Abe eyes Diet extension to September

Abe eyes Diet extension to September
In an interview on Monday with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV at the prime minister's residence in Tokyo, Abe said, "Japan will never take the path of waging a war again like 70 years ago, as we have pledged no more war."

The government and ruling parties have started to discuss and make arrangements for an extension of the current Diet session - initially set to close on June 24 - to September, considering such a significant extension to be unavoidable in order to enact security-related bills that will allow limited exercise of the right of collective self-defence.

The government and the ruling bloc originally planned to secure 80 to 90 hours of time for deliberation by the lower house's special committee on legislation for peace and security, and have the bills passed there around the end of the Diet session, as well as securing the equivalent amount of time for deliberation in the upper house with the aim of enacting the bills by early August.

Prime Minster Shinzo Abe is set to announce his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II by August 15. He is scheduled to visit Central Asia in late August and run in the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election in September. These plans had anticipated that the security-related bills would already have passed.

Abe takes a negative position on using the word "apology," which appeared in the statement on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and elsewhere. Abe intended to release his statement after the end of the current Diet session, mindful of criticism expected from opposition parties.

Meanwhile, it is now thought that having the security-related bills pass in the lower house during June will be difficult, as the amount of time available for deliberations had come to only about 48 hours as of Monday due to intermittent suspension of debate.

It seems the prime minister thinks the government's political base would be weakened if these bills are not enacted in the current Diet session. As the ordinary Diet session can only be extended once, he seems to consider an extension of more than two months to be necessary.

Opposition parties are stepping up their efforts to question the government over the security-related bills, insisting that these bills should be deliberated in two or three Diet sessions. The government and ruling parties plan to present a display of careful deliberation, securing the time required with the long extension.

The government and the ruling parties are also taking into consideration the so-called 60-day rule (see below), which allows a bill to become a law when passed a second time by the House of Representatives. This rule would be useful for them in the event that passage of the security-related bills in the lower house is delayed to July or later and opposition parties reject deliberations in the House of Councillors.

However, it could give the impression that the upper house is superfluous, as the 60-day rule does not require deliberations in the upper house.

Some upper house members of the LDP insist that the current Diet session should be closed in late August, not taking into account the 60-day rule.

Abe met with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who also serves as supreme adviser to the Japan Innovation Party, in Tokyo on Sunday night, and asked for his co-operation over deliberations on the security-related bills.

60-day rule

A rule based on Article 59 of the Constitution, which provides the lower house with superiority over the upper house in terms of decisions on bills. Under the rule, the lower house can regard a bill that was already passed there as having been rejected by the upper house if no vote has been held on it for 60 days in the upper house. The bill can be enacted through a second vote in the lower house by a two-thirds majority of members present.

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