Opposition demands extraordinary Diet session to probe LDP links to Unification Church

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sumio Mabuchi, Diet affairs committee chairman of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, center, hands a written demand for convening an extraordinary Diet session to Speaker of the House of Representatives Hiroyuki Hosoda at the Diet building on Thursday.

Leading opposition parties are calling on the government to convene an extraordinary session of the Diet to investigate the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s involvement with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Japanese Communist Party, Democratic Party for the People, Reiwa Shinsengumi and Social Democratic Party all submitted a written demand to the speakers of both the House of Representatives and House of Councillors on Thursday.

The government and ruling parties are not expected to immediately respond.

The opposition is basing its demand on Article 53 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the Cabinet shall decide to convene an extraordinary session of the Diet upon the request of at least one-fourth of the total members of either House of the Diet. However, the timing is not specified, and it is up to the Cabinet to decide when to convene such a session.

The written demand was addressed to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and called for early holding of deliberations in the Diet. It cited such matters as current concerns about the Unification Church, the planned state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the spread of the novel coronavirus, and soaring prices.

Regarding the connection between the LDP and the Unification Church, CDPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Sumio Mabuchi said at a press conference, “We expected that [the Cabinet reshuffle] was to conceal [the connection], but instead of a cover-up, it revealed how rampant the situation is.”

The submission of the demand carried the names of 126 members of the lower house and 77 from the upper house, exceeding the one-quarter threshold for each house. It included factions aligned with the opposition in both houses.

The Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) was noticeably not involved. The party’s Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Takashi Endo met with LDP counterpart Tsuyoshi Takagi and asked for deliberations during the adjournment of the Diet.

Komeito Vice Representative Kazuo Kitagawa, speaking at a press conference Thursday, said discussions on the issue can be held at an out-of-session meeting of the Diet.

As contacts between the Unification Church and the newly appointed Cabinet members are being brought to light, the opposition parties’ intention is to expose the LDP’s involvement with the religious group in Diet deliberations.

However, as some CDPJ members also have been found to have links with the Unification Church, there are voices within the party wondering whether it will be able to adequately pursue the matter.