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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 24 - 30  > House steering committee chair proposes to cut opposition lawmakers’ question time in general interpellation
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2018 October 24 - 30 [POLITICS]

House steering committee chair proposes to cut opposition lawmakers’ question time in general interpellation

October 30, 2018
Liberal Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives Takaichi Sanae, who heads the House steering committee, on October 25 unilaterally issued a proposal to reduce opposition parties’ time for general interpellation in order to prioritize discussions of government-introduced bills.

The Japanese Communist Party and five other opposition parties severely criticized Takaichi’s proposal, saying that it is an attempt to turn the Diet into an organization that serves only the interests of the ruling parties. Urged by the opposition parties, Takaichi on October 29 retracted her proposal and apologized for causing consternation.

Takaichi’s proposal was aimed at allocating less amount of time to general interpellations in which opposition lawmakers can ask the government any questions that they think are important. Given that this type of Diet questioning is an important part of the parliament’s right to investigate government-related matters, cuts in question time will damage the parliamentary function of overseeing government activities, which is important to ensure the constitutional principle of the separation of powers.

Takaichi published her written proposal as the chair of the Lower House Rules and Administration Committee. A person in this position has a responsibility to set the schedule for Diet discussions in a fair and impartial manner based on consent of both the ruling and opposition parties. However, Takaichi submitted the document without consulting opposition parties.

Takaichi is one of the closest aides to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and a key member of a parliamentary league directly connected to the Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi), Japan’s largest and most influential rightist organization which supports Abe’s move to revise the Constitution. The appointment of Takaichi as the House steering committee chair by Abe strongly suggests that he intends to control Diet deliberations.
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