On April 8, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council
approved a revised plan on the country’s new basic policy on energy
proposed by the government. In the new basic energy plan, it regards
the nuclear power as the country’s “important base-load resource,”
while at the same time announced to increase rate of renewable energy
to the extent “exceeding the past government goals.” The basic plan
also entailed words of reflection on the accident at Fukushima no.1
nuclear power plant and vows to decrease the country’s dependency on
the nuclear power, while it announces to resume operation of nuclear
power plants which passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety investigation.
Given approval of the ruling coalition of LDP and New Komeito, the
Cabinet approved the basic plan on energy on April 11. The government
held a first meeting of relevant ministers on renewable energy
(chaired by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga) based on the basic plan, and
affirmed to advance introduction of renewable energy with all the
ministries involved. The meeting will continue to be held to discuss
future energy composition or numerical targets of renewable energy.
On a bill to revise the local educational administration act to
advance reforms of the Board of Education in local governments, the
Lower House plenary session took up the bill on April 15 and entered
discussions. The ruling parties seek an early passage of the bill within April.
On the other hand, Democratic Party of Japan and Japan Restoration
Party on April 14 jointly submitted a counterproposal bill that plans
to abolish the Board and entitle the educational authority to
mayor/governor uniformly. The counterproposal suggests establishment
of a third party monitoring body on educational administration, as
well as an idea of school boards through which guardians and parents
can participate in management of public elementary and junior-high schools.
Discussions and consultative negotiations on the bills will likely be
active from this week.
*The state of deliberations in both Houses and committees are
available from the following websites.(Japanese only)
House of Representatives Internet TV：http://www.shugiintv.go.jp/en/index.php
Live broadcasts and video recordings of the deliberations in the
House of Councillors ：http://www.webtv.sangiin.go.jp/
On April 8, LDP, Komeito, DPJ, JRP, Your Party, Yuinotoh and
People’s Life Party jointly submitted a national referendum bill
setting procedures to amend the Constitution. The Lower House
Commission on the Constitution entered discussions on the bill on
April 10, and interpellation sessions are scheduled on April 17 and 22.
In the Upper House, New Renaissance Party, not having a seat in the
Lower House, has announced to act in concert with the seven parties so
the bill will likely be passed into legislation in the current Diet session.
The eight parties, in eye of expanding the voting rights to age of 18
from 20 in two years, schedule to establish a project team. Yet, there
are passive voices toward expanding the voting rights within LDP so it
is yet clear how the parties will reach an agreement. The bill also
entails controversial issues like expression of opinions by individual
government employees and their organizational campaigns. Furthermore,
as the joint-struggle by the eight parties exceeds 2/3 seats in both
Houses which fulfills requirements to submit amendments to the
Constitution, the political focus will likely shift to a way of
Constitutional amendments itself. In light of this, Natsuo Yamaguchi,
representative of Komeito, started asserting that the right to
environment should be manifested in the Constitution. But DPJ is
rather passive on such discussions.
On a new Diet monitoring body that oversees classification of special
intelligence by the government, LDP finalized its draft bill
officially on April 9. In a meeting of the ruling parties on April 11,
LDP agreed to establish a project team to discuss the new body to
finalize the bill with its coalition partner Komeito.which has had
different ideas with LDP. After coordination with Komeito, LDP plans
consultations with JRP and Your Party which have agreed with an idea
to establish a new Diet body. In order to establish a new body by
December when the special intelligence protection law will be taken
into effect, LDP seeks an early passage of the bill within this Diet.