Public Policy Planning & Consulting Co. (SEISAKU-KOUBOU) is a public policy consulting firm based in Tokyo, covering broad policy areas such as economic policy, fiscal policy, regulatory policy, administrative reform, international trade and investment, etc.
PPPC provides consulting and briefing services to the clients in the central/local governments, Diet, local assemblies and the private sector.

This blog is aimed at providing general information, latest updates and some of our analytical reports about Japan's public policy in English.
The contents include;
- updates on some important government councils, especially those in which our executive officers serve as the members,
- weekly reports on latest news in Nagata-cho, the political center in Japan, (partially).
- analytical reports and articles by our members and distinguished experts outside the firm,(partially).


This Week’s “Nagata-cho”(June 10-17)

On June 13, the revised bill on national referendum aiming at expanding the voting age from 20 to 18 years old from four years later was passed into legislation due to approval by 8 ruling and opposition parties except the Social Democratic Party and Japan Communist Party. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan requested a supplementary provision restricting free reinterpretation of the Constitution by Cabinet at times and promoting Diet deliberation on the issue, which was finally entailed in the revised bill.
The current legislation, enacted in May 2007, has maintained that not only the voting rights for national referendum but for general elections and adultery age in the Civil Law should be older than 18 years, but political gridlock has prevented the Diet from designing detailed system of national referendum. This time, it was arranged that the Cabinet should “take necessary legislative measures within two years” by establishing a joint project team by the eight parties in the Diet.
At the same time, accordingly with passage of the bill, moves toward amending the pacifist Constitution kicked off, as well. Since this time’s passage obtained more than 2/3 votes in both Houses which also enables amendments of the Constitution, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party started seeking ways leading to practical discussions on Constitutional amendments. LDP will first grope ways to actually amend some Article which seems to be easier to obtain understanding of the opposition parties within two years or so. In particular, candidates include addition of “the right to environment” and “the right to privacy” to basic human rights. LDP schedules to hold hearings from the party members in the Diet to consider what part of the Constitution are easier to be amended. Yet, because there are wide gaps on views and attitudes among the eight parties so it is yet to see whether they will reach an agreement. Political bargaining will likely continue for the meantime.
Besides that, there were passages of the revised Power Business Act to allow full-scale entry into power sales industry in 2016 on June 11, as well as passage of the revised local education administration act to expand mayoral and gubernatorial authority on education on June 13.

*The state of deliberations in both Houses and committees are available from the following websites.
 House of Representatives Internet TV
 Live broadcasts and video recordings of the deliberations in the House of Councillors (Japanese only)

The Diet members entered discussions on the revised Diet Act bill to establish a committee for information protection and oversight based on the Special Intelligence Protection Act enacted late-last year which gives suggestions to the Cabinet and entails punishment to Diet members who leaked information on June 10. On the same day, DPJ, Japan Restoration Party and Yuinotoh jointly submitted a counterproposal bill to the Diet and both legislations were entered into discussions simultaneously on June 10 in the Lower House Rules and Administration Committee and there were voting on June 12 which resulted to passage of the Cabinet’s bill and denial of the opposition camp’s bill. The ruling camp’s bill was immediately sent to the Upper House. For the tight schedule toward end of the ordinary Diet on June 22, the ruling parties and Cabinet will haste on passing the bill on around June 20 through the Upper House. On the other hand, Japan Communist Party and Social Democratic Party submitted a bill to invalidate the Special Intelligence Protection Act in the Upper House. The two parties will call for cooperation to DPJ and other oppositions.

On Lower House election system reforms including reduction of the seats, the Lower House Rules and Administration Committee agreed on an idea to delegate selection of members of a third-party panel to discuss new election system to the Lower House President Ibuki. In a meeting on June 13, it was arranged that an outline of the panel such as number of members and items to be discussed in the Committee’s next meeting on June 20. President Ibuki will then advance selection of members taking into consideration the opinions of the various parties.

Intra-coalition discussions on reinterpretation of Japan’s Constitution to exercise its right to collective self-defense have continued and LDP and its junior coalition partner New Komeito have remained as far apart in a meeting held on June 10. LDP Vice President Komura had asked government officials to prepare a draft of the constitutional reinterpretation and the Cabinet eyes approving the draft on June 20. On the other hand, Komeito officials involved in discussions with the LDP have so far expressed opposition to the Abe administration’s plans to change the interpretation of the pacifist Constitution to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense.
However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has instructed LDP officials to wrap up talks with Komeito so that his Cabinet can approve a change in the constitutional interpretation before the current Diet session ends on June 22.
Under pressure from its coalition partner, Komeito is considering giving its consent for Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense but only in limited situations.
During talks with Komeito on June 13, Komura presented three conditions for Japan’s use of military force in exercising the right to collective self-defense.
The three conditions, which all had to be met before Japan could exercise the right to individual self-defense, were: a tense and inappropriate invasion of Japan; the absence of other means to eliminate that threat; and the use of the minimum required level of military force. New Komeito officials will take the proposed conditions back to their party for further discussions, as the proposal opens the door for the exercise of the right to collective self-defense. Sharp discussions and bargaining between the coalition partners will likely continue until closing of the ordinary Diet on June 22 .

Toward practical end of the Diet on June 20, the ruling parties schedule to advance the remaining legislations steadily. Meanwhile, there are sharp consultations on controversial issues such as the Constitutional reinterpretation with regard to the collective self-defense and drafting of the new growth strategy to be released within this month. A close look at the delicate political situation is now required.

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