The Upper House on April 20 passed opposition-sponsored censure motions against two ministers of the Noda Cabinet.
Certainly, the way Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka often falters in answering questions in the Diet has raised serious concerns about his qualifications to do his job. Transport minister Takeshi Maeda apparently abused his position by putting political pressure on an industry he regulates to vote for a specific candidate in a local election.
We have urged the two ministers to step down quickly, even though we are critical of the use of censure motions by opposition parties as a political weapon.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has allowed the two ministers to remain in office, and they both appear to intend to retain their jobs. That is baffling.
Noda should not shy away from sacking the two ministers to address this situation. Failing that, is he prepared to accept significant delays in the enactment of important bills, including legislation for integrated tax and social security reform, which includes the consumption tax increase?
The Noda Cabinet must accept blame for what is happening in the Diet, but it is hard to deny that the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which has started boycotting all Diet deliberations, is acting in an unacceptable manner.
A censure motion followed by an opposition Diet boycott is now a familiar scene in the Diet, but some of the LDP’s action this time around are unusual.
The LDP began boycotting deliberations before the censure motions were approved and the party is even boycotting Diet committee sessions that the two ministers are not attending.
The bill to promote small- and medium-sized businesses and the revision to the fire service law, to enhance efforts to prevent fires, which have been passed by the committee, have nothing to do with the issues concerning the two censured ministers.
The timing is also unusual.
The two ministers are the fifth and the sixth lawmakers to be censured since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power. Previously, however, censure motions were submitted only during the last days of a Diet session. That's because there was a tacit agreement between the ruling and opposition camps to avoid prolonged disruption of the Diet. This time, there are still two months to go until the end of the current session.
New Komeito, the LDP's ally in the Diet, is also criticizing the main opposition party. New Komeito argues that a "basic rule" requires opposition parties to take part in deliberations on issues for which the censured minister is not responsible.
We believe the opposition parties should not boycott deliberations on necessary bills despite their right to take actions to hold ministers strictly accountable when they do wrong.
No matter what a minister has done, it is wrong for an opposition party to hinder people's lives by hampering the implementation of necessary policy measures.
Such an act does nothing but destroy the integrity and credibility of the entire Diet. What does the LDP think about this point?
The disparities in the numbers of voters lawmakers in both the Upper and Lower Houses are representing have been described by the judiciary as "unconstitutional." This situation should be corrected as soon as possible.
The LDP and New Komeito have agreed with the ruling DPJ to reduce the annual salaries paid to Diet members. Does the LDP intend to leave that agreement in limbo?
More importantly, efforts to rebuild areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year have barely begun.
The Diet has not even started discussing the bill to establish a new nuclear regulatory agency.
This is definitely no time for the Diet to waste time on partisan squabbling.
—The Asahi Shimbun, April 21
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