Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Diet Deliberation Reform Must Center around Debates between Party Heads

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Diet Deliberation Reform Must Center around Debates between Party Heads

Article excerpt

It has long been noted that the prime minister and Cabinet ministers have been tied down by Diet deliberations, which has hampered the handling of state affairs. We think the ruling and opposition camps should quickly craft new rules that improve the conducting of Diet deliberations.

The secretaries general of nine parties from the ruling and opposition blocs have agreed that their Diet affairs committee chiefs will jointly study concrete measures for Diet reform.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its junior ruling coalition partner, New Komeito, and the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), have worked out their respective reform drafts. The upcoming discussions among the parties will focus mostly on these drafts.

The ruling parties have been seeking more fruitful one-on-one debates between party leaders in the Diet, while proposing that the prime minister's attendance at committee sessions be limited only to those of each chamber's Budget Committee. Ishin no Kai also has called for placing higher impor-tance on Diet debates between party chiefs.

Japan's prime minister attends parliamentary sessions considerably more often than prime ministers of other industrially advanced democracies.

This appears to be commonly recognized by all ruling and opposition parties. The ruling parties have often grumbled that the prime minister's Diet attendance requirements make it difficult to draw up his diplomatic schedule and gives him little time to deeply ponder policy formulation.

The prime minister should be allowed to attend fewer Diet committee sessions than is currently required. Instead, one-on-one debates between party leaders should be held more frequently and the debates lengthened significantly from the current 45 minutes. Putting these rules in place would enrich Diet deliberations with the prime minister attending, while minimi-zing the adverse impact on the administration of state affairs.

DPJ too opportunistic

As the ruling parties and Ishin no Kai have proposed, senior vice ministers should be more effectively used to expedite Diet business. This would alleviate the burdens on Cabinet ministers in dealing with Diet affairs. …

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