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Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010
DPJ bumps up extraordinary Diet session to Oct. 1
By ALEX MARTIN
The government and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan decided Wednesday to convene an extraordinary Diet session on Oct. 1 instead of Oct. 6.
The extra session will be the first since Prime Minister Naoto Kan was re-elected DPJ leader, defeating party heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa. Kan reshuffled his Cabinet and the party leadership last week.
The dates for extra Diet sessions are technically the domain of the DPJ-led Cabinet. At a morning news conference, DPJ Diet Affairs Chief Yoshio Hachiro confirmed the date, which was pushed forward to secure enough time for the ruling and opposition camps to deliberate.
Hachiro also said arrangements were being made to cancel Kan's appearance at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels scheduled for Oct. 4 to 5.
If Kan misses the meeting, he will be the first prime minister to skip it since 1996, when the forum held its first meeting.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada said the opposition had been requesting an earlier start, and that he believes a longer session is necessary to properly deliberate the legislation.
"We will need (to negotiate with the opposition) with all sincerity. Since we lack a majority in the Upper House, we need to win the cooperation of the opposition to enact budgets and other legislation," he said.
"Steady deliberations will be important in order to protect the livelihood of the people, as well as for the national interest," said the former foreign minister, who replaced his predecessor, Yukio Edano, in the reshuffle.
Kan's priority will now be to secure an extra budget for fiscal 2010, but with the DPJ deprived of its Upper House majority in the July 11 Upper House election, his administration will face difficulty enacting policies in a divided Diet.
The DPJ also lacks the two-thirds Lower House majority needed to override Upper House votes, which means the government could wind up stuck in a stalemate, unable to pass budget and other related bills by the March 31, 2011, end of the current fiscal year.
While Sadakazu Tanigaki, the president of main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, has said he is willing to cooperate with the ruling party as long as it was "for the benefit of the public," the LDP also has been calling for the DPJ to hold a snap general election, and it remains unclear how far the DPJ will need to compromise to garner the opposition's support.