Monday, January 14, 2008

Goodbye to all that

After 128 days, the resignation of one prime minister, the selection of another, the aborted resignation of the leader of the largest opposition party, and the "re-passage" of a major bill in the House of Representatives over the rejection of the House of Councillors, the 2007 special session of the Diet — Japan's latest experiment with divided government — has come to a close.

Despite the impression of gridlock, Mainichi reports that the Diet passed twenty-six bills this session (fourteen government bills, twelve individual member bills), one more than was passed in the 2006 special session. Of the thirteen bills submitted to the HC by the DPJ, only one — on support for disaster victims — passed.

The battles of this session, however, were nothing more than a prelude to the showdown to come. The LDP is now divided over whether the anti-terror law should be the government's last use of its HR supermajority (not to mention the underlying divisions in the party that were only temporarily settled when Mr. Fukuda took office). Thanks to the precedent, various government and LDP officials have begun making the case for the use of the supermajority to pass budget-related bills and an extension of the temporary gas tax, most recently Finance Minister Nukaga. The DPJ's divisions are equally apparent after the struggle over the anti-terror law.

Will all of this result in a general election, whether in the middle of this Diet session or in the late summer (or another time of the government's choosing)? That question will loom large over this session's deliberations.

Hold on tight.

1 comment:

Bryce said...

Use a controversial political tactic to pass a tax? Are they nuts?

In any case, the amount of legislation that got through in the end shows that what I've been saying about this all along holds. There is no "stagnation" in the current arrangement. Only stalling.

As for using the supermajority* on budgetary items, why doesn't the LDP just wait for the budget and slip the items in there? That's due in a few months and they don't need their supermajority to get it passed.

*I've been studying politics for years now and that word STILL sounds like a professional wrestling move to me.