TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - The heads of the Diet plan to hold opinion hearings with parliamentary groups on legislation related to the Emperor’s abdication issue as early as the end of January, according to sources.
At a press conference on Jan. 16 or later, the speaker and the vice speaker of the House of Representatives as well as the president and the vice president of the House of Councillors are expected to make an announcement on how discussion on the issue should proceed.
To realize the Emperor’s abdication, the government plans to submit a bill during the ordinary Diet session opening on Jan. 20 to establish a special law that would allow only the current Emperor to abdicate. Diet leaders hope to build a basis for discussing the issue in the Diet by conducting hearings under their own leadership prior to the government’s move.
Possible scenarios include the leaders of each house speaking individually with parliamentary groups’ representatives, or holding a joint session among parliamentary groups.
The government is aiming to proceed with drafting the bill after a government advisory panel of experts tasked with studying the issue summarizes and releases the points of its discussions on Jan. 23. The government hopes to submit the bill to the Diet around the Golden Week holiday season in early May.
Meanwhile, opposition parties such as the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party call for revising the Imperial House Law to institutionalize abdication, in contrast to the government’s plan.
Calls are increasing within the government and ruling bloc for a bipartisan consensus prior to the bill’s submission. A senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said, “It is not desirable that the ruling and opposition parties clash over a bill regarding the Emperor.”