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Saturday, Sep. 17, 2011

Extra Diet session extended two weeks

Staff writer

Bowing to demands from the opposition, the ruling bloc agreed Friday to extend the special Diet session by 14 days through Sept. 30.

The ruling bloc led by the Democratic Party of Japan originally planned to close the session Friday after only four days.

But the ruling bloc desperately needs the cooperation of the opposition parties to get through the Diet a third extra budget to finance Tohoku's restoration.

The extension was approved unanimously in a Lower House plenary session.

DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi floated the idea of extending the session during a morning meeting with his opposition counterparts.

"We have come to the conclusion that the Diet session needs to be extended after consulting with Prime Minister (Yoshihiko) Noda. We'd like to hold budget committee sessions in the both chambers of the Diet during the extended session," he said.

The Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and other opposition parties have been arguing the session should be extended by 28 days through Oct. 14 and submitted a proposal to that effect to the speaker of the Lower House and the president of the Upper House on Thursday.

The major opposition LDP welcomed the ruling bloc's compromise.

"Finally it's extended. I want to accept this decision positively," said LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki.

New Komeito Secretary General Yoshio Inoue said "it is at least a step forward to building trust."

DPJ members changed their mind at the last minute, after the protest against the short Diet session by opposition camps grew stronger, particularly after the resignation of trade and industry minister Yoshio Hachiro.

The DPJ's bloc doesn't hold a majority in the Upper House and therefore will need cooperation from opposition forces to pass the budget and other bills.

At first, the ruling party voted to close the Diet in four days and planned to hold budget committee meetings for two days in each chamber after Noda returns from the United States later in the month.

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The Japan Times

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