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1st Diet session held since pro-constitutional amendment camp's election success

Members of the House of Councillors cast their ballots in the chamber's presidential election at a plenary session on Aug. 1, 2016. (Mainichi)
Chuichi Date (Mainichi)
Akira Gunji (Mainichi)

An extraordinary Diet session was convened on Aug. 1 for the first time since those in the pro-constitutional amendment camp secured two-thirds of the seats in the House of Councillors following a July 10 election.

At a plenary session, the upper chamber elected Chuichi Date, 77, former secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) upper house caucus, as president of the chamber, and former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Akira Gunji of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP) as vice president.

The LDP has regained a single-party majority in the upper house for the first time in 27 years after Tatsuo Hirano, who served as reconstruction minister in the previous administration led by the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan, joined the ruling party following the election. Hirano had run in the upper house race as an independent.

Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner, is wary of the LDP's moves, fearing that Komeito's influence within the government could decline after the ruling party regained a single-party majority in the chamber.

Close attention is focused on how the LDP will steer the Diet over various issues including constitutional amendment.

The current extraordinary session lasts for only three days until Aug. 3, during which neither the House of Representatives nor the upper chamber will deliberate any bills.

At another extraordinary session that the government will convene in September, ruling and opposition parties are expected to have full-scale debate on the second supplementary budget draft for fiscal 2016 and other policy issues.

In the July 10 election, those in favor of constitutional revisions, including ruling coalition members, secured two-thirds of all seats in the upper house. Under Article 96 of the Constitution, constitutional revisions can be proposed through a concurring vote of two-thirds of all members of both chambers before holding a referendum. The ruling coalition already has two-thirds of seats in the lower chamber.

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