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PM Suga under fire over short response to opposition legislator in Japan's Diet

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga came under fire during questioning at a plenary session of the House of Councillors on Jan. 21 for spending less than 10 minutes answering some 30 minutes of questions from an opposition legislator, with criticism emerging even from within the ranks of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

    Suga gave the brief response following questions from Shunichi Mizuoka of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), which were divided into around 15 categories ranging from COVID-19 vaccinations to expanded testing for the coronavirus.

    The Diet chamber erupted with jeering from opposition parties after Suga's response, with legislators asking, "What are you doing fleeing like that?" and, "Is that it?" Directors of the Committee on Rules and Administration from opposition parties including the CDP crowded around the podium and protested to the ruling parties, and in a subsequent committee meeting Suga's response was also criticized as being too short.

    Questions were raised about the length of Suga's comments even from within the ruling coalition, with one official agreeing that such a short response was "inappropriate." Toshiei Mizuochi, chairman of the chamber's Committee on Rules and Administration and a member of the LDP, told reporters, "If the question time is 30 minutes, then it's the norm to give a response that is on par with that," and asked the government for "in-depth explanations."

    CDP Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama spoke to reporters on the afternoon of the same day and commented, "I was astonished and appalled. Finishing with an abstract and extremely short response is tantamount to refusing to provide an explanation to the public."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Mizuwaki and Shun Kawaguchi, Political News Department)

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