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Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012
Diet must get to work
Although both the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the No. 1 opposition Liberal Democratic Party have chosen their new party leaders, the ruling and opposition forces still cannot agree on when to start an extraordinary Diet session. The primary responsibility rests on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. He must fulfill his promise to then LDP chief Mr. Sadakazu Tanigaki to dissolve the Lower House "in the near future" by clearly showing when he will do so. If he does so, the ruling and opposition forces will easily agree on when to start the Diet session. A delay in the start of the session will have a great negative impact on the people's lives.
Two months have already passed since Mr. Noda made his promise on Aug. 8 to Mr. Tanigaki. New LDP leader Mr. Shinzo Abe pointed out that Mr. Noda's promise is one with the people. Komeito chief Mr. Natsuo Yamaguchi said that voting in the next Lower House election must come on or before Dec. 9.
If the Diet session fails to start early, the government's execution of the fiscal 2012 budget will become difficult because the last Diet session failed to enact a bill to float bonds to cover about 40 percent of the budget funds. The government has already started to cut back on budget spending. The Finance Ministry says that the budget funds will run out at the end of November. The Diet must start deliberations as soon as possible.
Because the next Lower House election must be held within a year, the Diet should immediately enact a bill to rectify the disparity in the value of a vote between depopulated rural areas and populated urban areas. If the next Lower House election is held without a rectification of the vote-value disparity, the Supreme Court may find the next election results to be unconstitutional and nullify them.
A bill submitted by the DPJ to rectify the vote-value disparity is too complicated. The ruling and opposition forces should quickly agree to pass a bill to reduce the number of single-seat constituencies by one each in five prefectures as this would be the easiest way to rectify the disparity.
For the sake of smooth Diet deliberations, the opposition, which controls the Upper House, should refrain from the practice of trying to force the ruling camp to accept its demands by refusing to deliberate on important bills, including one on social welfare reform.