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2014年6月24日 (火)

通常国会閉幕 与野党協調を一層進化させよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ruling, opposition parties must continue productive cooperation
通常国会閉幕 与野党協調を一層進化させよ

The 150-day ordinary Diet session came to a close on Sunday. Many bills were enacted thanks to cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties. Continual efforts must be made to further revitalize Diet activities, placing high importance on this trend of cooperation.

Of 81 bills newly presented by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the just adjourned legislature, 79 were enacted, including one for the promotion of comprehensive arrangements for medical and nursing care services. That represents an amazingly high passage rate of 97 percent.

The ordinary Diet session, which was the first after the divided Diet was resolved in the House of Councillors election in July last year, can safely be said to have achieved a degree of success.

One factor behind the smooth proceedings of the Diet deliberations may be the fact that the Abe Cabinet has remained stable, with none of its ministers replaced since the inauguration of the second Abe administration in December 2012.

During the closing phase of the session, a remark made by Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara regarding the issue of finding intermediate places for storing radioactive soil and other materials from the Fukushima nuclear crisis—saying the problem could eventually “end up [being resolved] with cash handouts”—cannot help but be called inappropriate. It is only natural that Ishihara has apologized for the gaffe and retracted his words.

The opposition parties submitted to both chambers a nonconfidence motion and censure resolution against Ishihara, but both were voted down. All Cabinet members must bear in mind the need to address their duties properly, and not become complacent due to the ruling camp’s comfortable majority in the Diet.

Regarding bills sponsored by members of the Diet, the latest session saw a further remarkable step forward in terms of cooperation between the ruling and opposition blocs.

The revision of the national referendum law for clarifying procedures on revising the Constitution was favored by more than 90 percent of the House of Representatives and upper house lawmakers as seven ruling and opposition parties came together to form a suprapartisan agreement.

Accord on key policies

On the issue of creating a Diet organ in charge of supervising the enforcement of the special state secrecy law, the ruling coalition parties consulted with such opposition parties as Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party. Regarding the ruling coalition-presented bill for revising the Diet Law, an agreement was obtained from Your Party in the final stage of the Diet session, and it became law on Friday.

It is praiseworthy that the ruling parties, instead of trying to dominate Diet proceedings on the strength of their numerical superiority, were fairly successful in building cooperative relations with the opposition camp. The Abe administration should continue to keep in mind the importance of running the Diet conscientiously.

The configuration of strength in the Diet characterized as “one strong party versus the others, which are all weak,” with the Liberal Democratic Party as the strongest force, will remain unchanged. The Democratic Party of Japan has failed to exert its presence, as the leadership of its head, Banri Kaieda, has been waning to the extent that some party members are calling for a party representative election to be held earlier than scheduled.

Ishin no Kai will split due to the conflicting views of its coleaders, Shintaro Ishihara and Toru Hashimoto, over nuclear energy policy, in addition to a schism concerning how to forge ahead with the realignment of opposition parties. Hashimoto and his allies are set to finalize arrangements to merge with Yui no To as soon as possible.

We can understand the goal of rallying opposition parties to create a force capable of opposing the LDP, but the parties involved should first agree on key policies. The opposition parties should also take to heart the importance of being a “responsible opposition party” ready to extend cooperation to the government depending on the content of specific policies.

The Abe administration is poised to encourage discussions on reviewing the government’s constitutional interpretation regarding the nation’s right to collective self-defense. It is indispensable for the ruling coalition parties to redouble their efforts to garner cooperation from such parties as Ishin no Kai and Your Party, which have taken stands favorable to reinterpreting the Constitution on the matter.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 23, 2014)


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