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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Diet session extension left to the last minute


By MASAMI ITO and NATSUKO FUKUE
Staff writers

The Nagata-cho political hub was in turmoil Tuesday as the ruling and opposition camps failed to come to an agreement on how long to extend the Diet session, which was slated to finish Wednesday.

The Democratic Party of Japan was seeking to extend the session by up to four months, even though an extraordinary session usually starts in September.

The opposition camp, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, has been more focused on getting Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the DPJ president, to commit to a date when he will step down, resulting in snarled negotiations over the session extension.

"We were originally trying to propose the length of the Diet extension to the other parties at around 3:30 p.m. today, but we wanted (more time) to coordinate within the party as well as with other parties," said DPJ Diet affairs chief Jun Azumi. "We have offered our apologies and have begun to make adjustments."

Opposition parties were critical of the DPJ's lack of coordination among its own members.

"They are sloppy," said an executive of New Komeito. "The DPJ has neither the competence nor the responsibility as a ruling party."

Kan recently expressed his "strong" intent to stay on until the Diet passes the second supplementary budget, which is to be submitted in early July, the bill to allow the issuance of deficit-covering government bonds necessary to fund a large part of the fiscal 2011 initial budget and legislation introducing a feed-in-tariff system to promote renewable energy sources.

The DPJ was believed Tuesday to have proposed to the LDP and New Komeito a 50-day extension, with the assurance that Kan would resign in exchange for the passage of the second extra budget and the deficit-covering bonds bill as well as speeding up deliberations on the renewable energy bill.

But Kan reportedly rejected the condition, saying he won't quit until the energy bill clears the Diet.

Although the LDP and New Komeito had initially leaned toward accepting the deal, things were thrown back into chaos again with Kan's refusal, opposition lawmakers said, adding that the ball is still in the DPJ's court.

Political commentator Harumi Arima noted that Kan appears unwilling to step down.

"If Kan were determined to resign, he would have said when he was going to step down," Arima said. "He probably doesn't want to resign, and no one can force him after (the recent) no-confidence motion was voted down."



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