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Ruling bloc to put off plan to pass bill to revise constitutional referendum act

Ruling and opposition legislators are seen during a gathering of directors of the Commission on the Constitution at the House of Representatives on July 4, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner Komeito have decided to put off a plan to have a bill to revise the constitutional referendum act pass the Diet during the current session, it has been learned.

The move came as the ruling coalition deemed that its attempt to ram the bill through the Diet could stall discussions on constitutional amendment with opposition parties, especially when the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) and other opposition parties maintain reservations about revising the supreme law.

The ruling coalition had planned to see the passage of the bill to revise the Act on Procedures for Amendment of the Constitution of Japan during the ongoing session in order to adjust the specifics of public referendums for constitutional amendment to those of the Public Offices Election Act. The ruling bloc aims to see the bill clear the legislature during this fall's extraordinary session.

LDP and CDP directors of the Commission on the Constitution at the House of Representatives agreed on July 3 to hold a meeting on July 5 to start deliberating the bill to revise the national referendum act. As explanations on the bill would take up most of the meeting time that day, there would be not much time left for both chambers of the Diet to discuss the bill before the end of the current session on July 22.

According to a source close to the LDP, the party's caucus at the House of Councillors has shown a reluctance to initiate deliberations on the bill in the upper house as the caucus would rather prioritize the passage of a bill to revise the Public Offices Election Act, which will increase the upper house seats by six. In addition, ruling and opposition parties have yet to deepen their discussions on the items up for constitutional revision during the current Diet session, lessening the need to hastily prepare the public referendum system.

The bill to revise the national referendum act was jointly submitted by the LDP, Komeito, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and Kibo no To. It is aimed at eliminating differences between the law and the Public Offices Election Act by allowing common polling stations to be set up at railway stations and commercial facilities, among other measures.

(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Tanaka and Hiroshi Odanaka, Political News Department)

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