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The Japan News/Yomiuri
The Japan News/Yomiuri
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Scheduling snafu sends Diet into 9-day stall

The Diet is in the unusual situation of being open but effectively closed at the same time, as the Budget Committees of the upper and lower houses will not meet until Monday and only a limited number of other committees will gather in the meantime.

It's customary to prioritize deliberations of the Budget Committee over other groups, so opposition parties have refused to hold some committee meetings.

Hiroshige Seko, secretary general for the Liberal Democratic Party in the House of Councillors, said at a press conference Tuesday that "no more mistakes will be tolerated" regarding the future management of the Diet. He was referring to the fact that Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki's plans to attend an international conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday were not shared within the LDP and the government, affecting the Diet schedule.

Questions from each party in response to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's policy speech ended Friday. Meetings of the Budget Committees of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors, which the prime minister and all the Cabinet members attend, are normally held right after the questioning sessions.

A nine-day gap, including weekends and holidays, is unusual. The most recent similar situation was in 2012, when there was a 10-day gap in the extraordinary Diet session under the Democratic Party's leadership.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara and LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairperson Tsuyoshi Takagi act as liaisons between the Prime Minister's Office and the LDP regarding the management of the Diet. In September, the prime minister attended the U.N. General Assembly and a state funeral was held for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This led some to believe that Kihara had a lot on his plate and could not coordinate matters properly.

A senior LDP official said "the two coordinators are jointly responsible" for the current Diet situation.

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