It has been nearly a month since the opposition parties called the Cabinet to hold an extraordinary session of the House of Representatives in accordance with a constitutional provision.
“An extraordinary session of the Diet is expected next month,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking at the September 15 meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party faction he heads, said.
The government and the ruling coalition were reported to be considering October 3 as a possible date to open the session. But the Kishida administration was too slow to respond to calls to discuss the Diet on important policy issues.
It was also surprising to hear how Kishida talked about it as if it was someone else’s business.
Article 53 of the constitution states that the Council of Ministers must decide to hold an extraordinary session of the House of Representatives “when a quarter or more of the total members of either House are requested.”
Kishida’s occasional remarks indicate his lack of awareness of the fact that he is responsible for responding to the heavy demands based on the constitution.
Since the July 10 Senate elections, a host of issues have emerged that have eroded public confidence in politics.
In addition to the seventh wave of novel coronavirus cases and price hikes, controversy erupted over the government’s plan to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dividing public opinion bitterly.
Revelations also surfaced about the relationship between politicians and the Unification Church, now officially known as the Family Union for World Peace and Unification.
The Kishida administration should have responded to these issues by agreeing to a comprehensive debate in Parliament even without any request from the opposition camp.
An extraordinary session was held in August after the Senate elections but closed it after three days. Since then it has ignored the opposition’s call for a full Diet session.
The Kishida administration’s reluctance to fulfill its responsibility to explain its political decisions and actions, and the brief disregard for the people, must have caused his ministry’s low acceptance rates.
As for his decision to hold an official funeral for the slain prime minister, last week Kishida attended special meetings held by the committees of both houses to answer questions, although the Diet is not currently in session.
But his remarks in these sessions were mostly paraphrases of earlier statements that did not provide a direct answer to the many questions and doubts surrounding the decision.
Kishida has repeatedly said that he will continue to provide accurate explanations “to gain people’s understanding.”
But he failed to fulfill that promise. He did not hold a diet session or press conference to answer relevant questions.
As it stands now, the state funeral will be held at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan Hall on September 27 as scheduled while many Japanese remain uneasy and unconvinced. Is Kishida happy with this situation?
As for relations with the Unification Church, last week the ruling party published the results of an opinion poll of its members, based mainly on the reports of the members themselves.
But a series of new revelations about LDP lawmakers’ connections to the church and affiliated organizations have emerged since then, further undermining the credibility of the LDP’s “review” of the problem.
It was also found that members of other parties in both the ruling and opposition camps had ties to the church and its affiliates, although their ties are not as broad or deep as those of the LDP.
These include Komeito, the LDP’s junior partner in the ruling coalition, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Nippon Ishin (Japan’s Innovation Party) and the People’s Democratic Party.
To reflect on the past to learn lessons for the future, the diet as a whole needs to address the task of uncovering relevant facts.
Of course, much of the burden of this work should be placed on the shoulders of the LDP and the Kishida administration.
In particular, the ruling camp needs to clarify the roles played by Abe, who is said to have controlled how the UC’s vote is distributed among party candidates during election campaigns, and how the government has allowed the church to change it. name while Abe was in power.
Parliament’s upcoming extraordinary session will be a critical test of the legislature’s determination to dispel people’s doubts and restore their confidence in politics.
– Asahi Shimbun, September 16
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