Insufficient Amount of Fruitful Debates Held on Important Issues

It is regrettable that debates between the ruling and opposition parties have not been deepened, even as there are only a limited number of days remaining until the closing of the current Diet session. They must strive to engage in constructive debates within the time available.

Less than a month remains until the closing of the Diet session on June 21. The Diet schedule has been tight from the beginning, due to the unified local elections and the summit of the Group of Seven advanced nations.

The government and ruling parties intend to ensure the passage of a bill to secure financial resources to increase defense spending. The bill would create a “fund for strengthening defense capabilities” in which nontax revenues, such as those from surpluses of special accounts, are to be used for bolstering defense capabilities from fiscal 2024 and beyond.

With the growing threats from China and North Korea, the security environment surrounding Japan has been deteriorating to an unprecedented degree. It is understandable for the government to secure the necessary funds for the future to strengthen defense capabilities.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which opposes the bill, has submitted a resolution to dismiss the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Affairs chairman, and a no-confidence motion against Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki. Both were rejected by a majority of votes from other parties, including the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People.

The CDPJ’s crude Diet tactic of aimlessly submitting a no-confidence motion and a resolution in order to delay the vote on the bill is truly astonishing.

While the CDPJ has expressed its understanding of strengthening the nation’s defense capabilities, the party has not clarified its position on how defense spending will be secured. If the party opposes the bill, it should present a counterproposal.

A bill to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law to eliminate the long-term detention of foreign nationals at immigration facilities was amended by the LDP, Komeito, Ishin and the DPFP. The amended bill is currently under discussion in the House of Councillors.

It is important for the ruling and opposition parties to hold discussions in pursuit of better policies. Hopefully they will continue their efforts to find common ground on various domestic and foreign issues. The Diet also has a responsibility, through policy debates, to present the public with information on which to base decisions.

The LDP and Komeito have submitted a bill to the Diet to facilitate understanding of sexual minorities with the aim of promoting policies related to LGBT people. It calls for the government to create a basic plan, and for companies and schools to implement necessary measures as well.

However, the LGBT bill does not specify what acts constitute discrimination against LGBT people. What kind of “promotion of understanding” will be required of businesses and schools? If these issues are left unattended, it will only lead to social confusion. A hasty legislation process will leave the roots of trouble for the future.

In the wake of the G7 summit, some in the ruling parties are calling for an early dissolution of the lower house. But it is problematic that the timing of the dissolution will be determined solely on the basis of whether it would be advantageous for the next national election. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida needs to steadily tackle domestic and foreign policy issues and produce tangible results.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 23, 2023)