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Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011
Diet must get down to business
The Diet on Monday enacted the ¥12.1 trillion third supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 to finance reconstruction of the areas affected by the March 11 triple disasters. Bills for securing funds for the budget are expected to pass the Diet on Nov. 30, but Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will have a difficult time in the Diet.
There are no prospects that other important bills will be enacted during the current Diet session, which will end Dec. 9. Although the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito cooperated with the Democratic Party of Japan in passing the extra budget, they are now becoming combative. Mr. Noda is considering extending the Diet session by two weeks.
The LDP and Komeito insist that the planned Reconstruction Agency should be empowered not only to coordinate different government organizations but also to implement projects in disaster-hit areas. The DPJ may have to accept their revisions.
The government has submitted a bill to reduce the fiscal 2011 wages of national public servants by an average 7.8 percent, ignoring the National Personnel Authority's call for an average 0.23 percent cut. The authority makes recommendations on wage levels of national public servants because they are not legally given the power to negotiate their wage levels. The bill could raise constitutional issues.
The LDP calls for cutting the wages by 0.23 percent at first and then reducing them to 7.8 percent below their current level. The DPJ may also have to accept the LDP's proposal to make a detour of the constitutional problem.
All the parties must quickly rectify the large gap in the value of votes between the most and least populated constituencies in Lower House elections. But no consensus has been reached.
Consumer affairs minister Kenji Yamaoka's receipt of political funds from multilevel marketing businesses and Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa's absence from a dinner for the king and queen of Bhutan at the Imperial Court to attend a party of DPJ lawmakers supply fodder for the opposition offensive. (The defense chief should be severely censured for saying that the DPJ lawmakers' party was more important.)
At the very least, the DPJ leadership must select what it thinks are the most important bills and make serious efforts to strike compromises with the opposition forces.