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2013年12月10日 (火)

臨時国会閉幕 与野党は不毛な対立解消せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 10, 2013
Both ruling, opposition blocs must stop engaging in unfruitful debate
臨時国会閉幕 与野党は不毛な対立解消せよ(12月8日付・読売社説)

With the latest Diet session now adjourned, there can be no denying that a streak of futile showdowns between the ruling and opposition blocs made what could have been constructive policy discussions recede into the background.

The extraordinary Diet session was virtually brought to a close Friday before the end of the session, which was extended to Sunday.

As a law for establishing a Japanese equivalent to the U.S. National Security Council that will oversee foreign diplomacy and national security policies and one for the protection of specially designated state secrets have been enacted, the foundation for crafting national strategies has been significantly bolstered.

In addition, bills ensuring mainstays of the growth strategy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, such as one to ramp up the nation’s industrial competitiveness and another to create national strategy special zones, have become law.
Other important bills, including those related to social welfare reform and revisions of the public livelihood assistance law, have also passed the legislature.

The Diet can be said to have produced a degree of achievement within this short period of its sitting. This is due mainly to the fact that the state of a divided Diet was brought to an end as a result of the House of Councillors election in July.

The face-off between the ruling and opposition parties over the bill on specially designated state secrets near the close of the Diet session, however, took on the appearance of a mudslinging contest. Indications are that something must be done to address the task of fixing the soured ruling-opposition relations to pave the way for the ordinary Diet session to be convened early next year.

What we believe should be brought into question is the attitude adopted by the Democratic Party of Japan toward the end of the Diet session, as if it had become a party entirely for out-and-out opposition.

The DPJ presented a no-confidence motion to the House of Representatives against the Abe Cabinet on Friday night, protesting that the Cabinet was rushing relentlessly to enact the state secrecy law.

Opposition camp in disarray

Under the circumstances, it was quite reasonable that Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) opposed the DPJ move on the grounds that the act of submitting a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet as a way of steering the Diet agenda “should be ruled out as pointless.” The difference in views between the two parties brought to the fore the failure of the opposition camp’s attempt to act as one in fighting the coalition government.

When it came time to vote on the state secrecy law in an upper house plenary session, the DPJ lawmakers at one point walked out. They, however, ended up taking a detour, eventually returning to the floor due to a spate of objections against the walkout from among party members, casting dissenting votes against the legislation.

Though Ishin no Kai and fellow opposition Your Party were in favor of cooperating with the ruling camp regarding amendments to the law, both parties fell into internal disarray, resulting in a walkout just before the vote to protest the speed with which the ruling bloc handled the legislation.

There were schisms before the voting within both parties, but the intraparty rifts seemed to have been aggravated over pros and cons regarding the state secrey law. This will likely have some implications for moves to realign opposition parties.

The way the ruling parties ran the Diet agenda was forceful and clumsy.

Up until the voting on the state secrecy law at the upper house’s special committee, it cannot be denied that the parties in power incurred unnecessarily adverse reactions from the opposition through such actions as the unilateral setting of the committee’s deliberation schedules at its chairman’s discretion, abruptly halting interpellations on the issue and holding a lopsided public hearing on the divisive legislation.

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba likened demonstrations against the state secrecy bill around the Diet building and elsewhere to “terrorism,” a comment that he had to rescind later.

The demonstrations were carried out using loudspeakers, creating a possibility of infringing on the law requiring maintenance of peace in the vicinity of the Diet building. The remark by Ishiba, however, resulted in providing the opposition with ammunition for attack.

Given the Diet’s current configuration of power, which can be characterized as “a single dominant party with all others hot on its heels,” the LDP should never be arrogant about its the numerical advantage, instead bearing in mind the importance of running Diet affairs humbly and politely.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 8, 2013)
(2013年12月8日01時23分  読売新聞)


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