Japan's diet session likely to convene in january to address supplementary budget – chicago tribune

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TOKYO – The government and the ruling bloc are making preparations to convene the next ordinary Diet session in early January, much earlier than usual, it has been learned.

While the ordinary Diet session is usually convened in late January, the government and the ruling parties are focusing on a plan to convene the session on Jan. 4. The purpose of the earlier start is to secure sufficient time for Diet deliberations


to pass the fiscal 2016 budget before the end of this fiscal year and to broaden options for the date of the House of Councillors election, according to informed sources.

“It will be difficult to extend the next ordinary Diet session because the upper house election will be held next year. We are assuming a fairly tight schedule,” Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said at a press conference Tuesday.

With regard to the possibility of convening the Diet on Jan. 4, Toshihiro Nikai, chairman of the LDP’s General Council, said at another press conference on Tuesday, “The plan would be good.”

The government and the ruling parties are considering convening the next ordinary Diet session at an early date to deliberate the fiscal 2015 supplementary budget and personnel matters that require the approval of the Diet by the end of January.

They also aim to pass the fiscal 2016 budget before the end of this fiscal year, meaning that “it will be necessary to convene the ordinary Diet session in early January, because we also have to deal with tax system-related bills to introduce a reduced tax rate system and other bills,” a source close to the LDP said.

By starting Diet deliberations at an early date, they also hope to avoid criticism from opposition parties that would stem from a decision not to convene an extraordinary Diet session.

The schedule of the upper house election also figures into the call to convene the ordinary Diet session at an early date.

Under the Public Offices Election Law, there are two rules concerning the voting day of the upper house election.

First, the upper house election should be held within 30 days before the term of office for upper house members expires.

Second, if a period of 23 days after the end of the Diet session overlaps with the “30-day period before the expiration of term of office,” the upper house election should be held within 24 to 30 days after the Diet session ends.

The term of an ordinary Diet session is 150 days. Assuming that the upper house election will be held on Sunday and the ordinary Diet session will not be extended, if the Diet convenes on Jan. 4, the ordinary Diet session will end on June 1. In that case, voting in the upper house election can be held on one of five days – June 26, July 3, 10, 17 and 24 – based on the first rule of the law.

Meanwhile, if the ordinary Diet session is convened on or after Jan. 5, the second rule will be applied, and the voting day of the upper house election will be decided automatically.

For example, if the Diet session is convened on Jan. 5, the voting day will be June 26, but if it is convened sometime from Jan. 6 to 12, the voting day will be July 3.

If the ordinary Diet session is convened on Jan. 4, the voting day will likely be July 10.

The government and the ruling parties are considering the July 10 plan because the revised Public Offices Election Law that lowers the minimum voting age to 18 from 20 will be enacted on June 19. If the next upper house voting day is on July 10 or after, people 18 years old will be eligible to vote.

If the voting day is set on July 17, the date will fall on a three-day weekend, or if it is set on July 24, it will be during the peak summer tourist season. A lower turnout is likely on these dates.

Meanwhile, the Constitution and other rules stipulate that the House of Representatives election should be held within 40 days after the dissolution of the chamber.

Under the plan to convene the ordinary Diet session on Jan. 4, if the lower house is dissolved at the end of the Diet session, it will become possible to hold double elections for both chambers on July 10.

Since 1992 the ordinary Diet session has been convened every January, with the earliest start date on Jan. 5, 2009, under the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Taro Aso.