Deterioration of politics stood out in extraordinary session

Due to internal strife and other factors, a Diet speech to pay tribute to a former prime minister was postponed. On top of that, a newly elected lawmaker continues to miss Diet sessions. The political world has deteriorated severely.

The extraordinary Diet session convened in the wake of the House of Councillors election in July was adjourned after three days, during which the selections of the upper house president and vice president were decided, among other things. Although it is customary for the Diet session immediately following the upper house election to be a formality, there have been cases in the past when the ruling and opposition parties conducted debates.

It is unfortunate that the Diet stuck to convention and did not engage in substantive deliberations, amid a mountain of issues such as the coronavirus pandemic crisis and surging prices. The ruling and opposition parties must carefully discuss various issues in deliberations held while the Diet is closed.

Former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Akira Amari was scheduled to deliver a memorial speech for the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the wish of Abe’s bereaved family, but the speech was postponed due to opposition from both the ruling and opposition camps.

In the LDP, some members of the Abe faction are said to have voiced opposition to the selection of Amari, who has expressed criticism of the faction without Abe.

The U.S. Senate last month adopted a resolution honoring Abe. A speech paying tribute to Abe was delivered at the Australian Parliament. It is deplorable that Japan, his own country, is spending so much energy on political disputes.

Attention has been focused on the relationship between politics and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification — widely known as the Unification Church — because the suspect in Abe’s killing cited the former prime minister’s relationship with the group as a motive.

Many members of the ruling and opposition parties have had contact with the Unification Church, but the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and others are pursuing the idea that the LDP is the party that is most closely involved with the group.

First of all, it is necessary to sort out that problem.

The Unification Church has been involved in various problems, including a “spiritual sales” tactic that involves cajoling people into buying expensive items. Antisocial conduct should naturally be criticized. There needs to be a rigorous investigation into their actual activities.

On the other hand, under the Constitution, it is not considered to be a problem for religious organizations to be involved in political activities. Support for specific political parties and candidates is also provided by other religious organizations.

While politicians must be careful about associating with problematic organizations, it is unreasonable to assume that they condoned immoral activities just because they received support in the election.

Some opposition parties have opposed the holding of a state funeral for Abe, citing the former prime minister’s ties to the Unification Church. It is difficult to understand the attitude of focusing only on the scandal and turning a blind eye to his national achievements.

A newly elected upper house member from the NHK Party, which claims to protect people from the public broadcaster, was absent from the Diet because he is staying overseas. The date of his return to Japan is not known.

NHK Party leader Takashi Tachibana has stated that he does not have to attend the Diet for six years. During that time, will the public need to keep providing him with a salary and other benefits? This is nothing but a desecration of the legislative branch.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 6, 2022)