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Thursday, April 3, 2003
Triumvirate to top Diet agenda with data bills
In prioritizing their legislative goals, the secretaries general of the three ruling parties agreed Wednesday to push a controversial set of personal-data protection bills through the House of Representatives by the end of the month.
They also agreed to extend by two weeks their March 31 deadline for the Democratic Party of Japan to submit a counterproposal to a package of bills that would establish the guidelines for Japan's response to a military attack.
Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, had previously said the ruling camp would ram the contingency bills through the Lower House, even if DPJ lawmakers boycott Diet sessions.
However, a senior member of coalition partner New Komeito said Wednesday the triumvirate has not agreed on what to do if the DPJ fails to meet the deadline.
The DPJ, the largest opposition force, is staunchly against immediate resumption of deliberations on the war-contingency legislation. Party officials said they are trying to hammer out an alternative version, which will probably be completed by early May.
At a news conference later in the day, DPJ policy chief Yukio Edano said his party unveiled basic ideas for alternative proposals last spring, and it will be "a matter of weeks" before the Lower House Legislative Bureau and the party finish drafting the bills.
Edano also said it will probably be difficult for the Lower House to pass the personal information bills by the end of April as the ruling camp hopes, given limited deliberation time and various shortcomings in the government-drafted bills.
Some top DPJ officials claimed that the April 14 counterproposal deadline unilaterally set by the ruling coalition is an attempt to cause confusion within the party. Reaching a consensus on the thorny issue of national security is likely to take more time, they say.
The officials questioned how serious the ruling bloc was, saying the new deadline may be a bluff. Observers said New Komeito, a self-proclaimed pacifist party, won't want to rush the contingency bills in a month when a host of level elections will be held across the nation.