By Yoshikawa Maho and Uechi Kazuki
A bipartisan “political truce” urgently proposed by the heads of Tokyo municipalities is creating a stir within the government as well as the ruling and opposition parties. The opposition camp is expressing a degree of understanding for the idea, calling for the opening of an extraordinary Diet session for discussions with the ruling camp. On the other hand, the government is taking a cautious stance as this could lead to restricting Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s right to Diet dissolution.
The proposal issued by the Tokyo mayors on Aug. 12 urges the ruling and opposition camps to set a date for the next general election and concentrate on combatting the pandemic together until that date. Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) representative Edano Yukio noted that “I also agree that we are in that situation,” expressing his understanding at a party’s online event held on the evening of Aug. 15. With the pandemic showing no signs of receding, he said: “People’s lives are at risk and conventional politics is not functioning. We must tackle this challenge together by putting aside our political differences.”
On Aug. 16, CDPJ Diet affairs chief Azumi Jun referred to the need to issue a nationwide state of emergency and noted that “we are ready to cooperate with the government if they sincerely deal with revising laws and compiling a supplementary budget.”
On Aug. 17, the heads of the four opposition parties will meet inside the Diet building and call for the government and the ruling parties to convene an extraordinary Diet session to discuss COVID-19 measures.
Meanwhile, the government has a different scenario in mind. It wants to dissolve the Lower House by shelving Diet discussions on the budget and laws related to COVID-19 and to hold a LDP presidential election uncontested after clinching a victory in the general election. On Aug. 16, Liberal Democratic Party Diet Affairs Chairperson Moriyama Hiroshi, one of aides close to Prime Minister Suga, stressed that “we are having discussions and building a consensus with the opposition camp even when the Diet is in recess.” On the proposal by the Tokyo mayors, he noted that “our concern is the political significance of restricting Prime Minister’s right to Diet dissolution” and expressed a negative stance toward the idea. (Abridged)