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Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010


Diet must focus on duties

Monday marked the 120th anniversary of the ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Imperial Diet, which was held on Nov. 29, 1890, with the Emperor Meiji attending and reading an imperial message. Under the Meiji Constitution, the Diet was composed of the House of Peers and the House of Representatives. The Emperor was empowered to issue imperial decrees, independent from laws enacted by the Diet.

After World War II, the House of Peers was abolished and the House of Councilors was established. The current Constitution's preamble says that "sovereign power resides with the people," that "Government is a sacred trust of the people" and that its powers "are exercised by the representatives of the people." Article 41 of the Constitution says that "The Diet shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be the sole law-making organ of the State."

Lawmakers as well as Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Cabinet members must examine whether they are properly carrying out the duties entrusted to them by the people. A number of incidents during the current Diet session indicate Mr. Kan and his Cabinet don't take their duty of steering Japan through economic, diplomatic and other difficulties seriously enough. One after another, Cabinet ministers have made careless statements and then were forced to offer apologies.

The opposition forces recently launched a new offensive against the ruling block by passing censure resolutions against Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku and transport minister Sumio Mabuchi over their statements and behavior. Meanwhile, Diet discussions remain shallow on such important matters as how to build a sustainable social welfare system, how to improve relations with China and Russia and how to best cope with the security situation around Japan.

Political parties should refrain from taking actions solely aimed at promoting partisan interests, and also cease discussions on reducing the number of Diet seats, which is sham reform. Instead, they should concentrate on their primary responsibility, which is to identify and solve the serious problems that are confronting our nation.

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