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News Navigator: What happens if a bill that has a typo is passed in the Japanese Diet?

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato instructs government officials to prevent a recurrence of mistakes in bills at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, on March 26, 2021. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about typographical errors in Japanese Diet bills.

    Question: Were there mistakes in the bills that the government submitted to the current Diet session?

    Answer: As a result of investigations by government ministries and agencies, a total of 134 errors were found in 23 proposed bills and one treaty, which account for nearly 40% of all government-sponsored bills. Three bills and one treaty have a total of 12 errors in articles describing the content of laws, while 22 bills have 122 errors combined in reference materials such as the outline of the content of laws. Two bills, the amendment to the Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response and the amendment to the Act on Strengthening Industrial Competitiveness, contained errors in both the text and reference materials.

    Q: What kind of mistakes are there?

    A: There were mistakes in numbers and kanji. Some characters such as "law" were left out, and "Naranai" (must not or will not) was rendered "Narana." Also, in some of the reference materials, the "Canadian army" was written as the "British army."

    Q: Didn't they notice that earlier?

    A: Bills are prepared by each ministry and agency. They check for errors by having multiple staff members read bills together and by using a system that generates an error message if there is a typo or omission, among other efforts. However, there have apparently been cases where only the person who created the document checked it and did not notice any errors.

    Q: What happens if a law is enacted with mistakes in the bill?

    A: Typos and other errors that do not change the meaning of the law are corrected by publishing a correction list in the official gazette, which provides government information. In some cases, the erroneous parts are also corrected when the next amendment to the law is proposed.

    Q: What happened to the revised pandemic influenza special measures act?

    A: In the case of this law enacted in February, the government-proposed bill was altered in the Diet before the passage, and the part that contained the errors was deleted in the process. As a result, the law was not affected.

    (Japanese original by Tadashi Sano, Political News Department)

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