Party leaders should deepen Diet discussions on mountain of issues

Deliberation time in the Diet must not be devoted solely to the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the issue of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church. The ruling and opposition parties should squarely address domestic and foreign policy issues.

The plenary session of the House of Representatives has started with a question-and-answer session with representatives from both the ruling and opposition parties responding to the recent policy speech by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Kenta Izumi, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, criticized the Cabinet’s decision to hold the state funeral, saying, “The way the Cabinet made the decision was unreasonable.” He also stated that rules for holding state funerals should be set on a bipartisan basis.

The creation of rules for state funerals was also proposed by Yoko Kamikawa, acting secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. “We will aim to establish certain rules on what procedures should be followed,” Kishida said.

Opposition to the state funeral, which was the first in 55 years, was fueled partly due to the government’s failure to debate the matter at the Diet for as long as 1½ months after the decision at a Cabinet meeting, making the public feel there had been insufficient explanation. It is important for the administration of the time to carefully follow procedures.

Regarding the relationship between the Unification Church and the LDP, Izumi called for the replacement of Daishiro Yamagiwa, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, pointing out that Yamagiwa “had kept a tight lid” on the fact that he met the top leader of the Unification Church in 2018.

Kishida said that Yamagiwa “has a responsibility to provide a thorough explanation of the issue.” Yamagiwa stated that he “will be careful not to have anything to do with the organization.”

It has been revealed that many Diet members from both the ruling and opposition parties were involved with the Unification Church such as by attending meetings associated with the organization. It is reasonable for the government and the ruling and opposition parties to cooperate to clarify the actual activities of the organization. If antisocial activities continue, they must work together to rectify this.

There is a problem if lawmakers focus solely on the government’s mishandling of the state funeral and pursuing the issue of the Unification Church in the Diet. It is important to deepen policy debates on a mountain of challenges, such as soaring prices, the coronavirus pandemic and the deteriorating security environment.

Izumi called for the government’s provision of ¥50,000 to each household that is not subject to residential tax, a measure to deal with price hikes, to include “working poor” households that do not earn enough even though they work.

With the prices of many foods and other items rising from this month, it is essential to support households and small and midsize companies. However, Izumi’s proposal will be unconvincing if it does not include ways to secure financial resources.

Regarding the possession of counterattack capabilities that the government is considering in order to strengthen Japan’s defense power, Izumi said, “We’ll have a realistic discussion in the Diet.”

If he is saying this in public, Izumi should first clarify the entire picture of the CDPJ’s security policy.

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