Ruling parties cut discussion short to railroad bill through Upper House

A pension cut bill was rushed through the Upper House Committee on June 3 after the Liberal Democratic and the Komei parties cut discussions short.

The House of Councilors Health, Labor, and Welfare Committee held a general discussion in the morning on that day and was scheduled to allow opposition parties to take the floor in the afternoon for questioning Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro and Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Sakaguchi Chikara.

However, precisely when Japanese Communist Party representative Koike Akira was about to start his questioning, the ruling parties suddenly guillotined the discussions and read a motion calling for an immediate vote on the bill.

Ruling party members arbitrarily broke up the committee meeting by repeatedly raising their hands in support of the "motion" in disregard of opposition members'protests.

The vote was not on the agenda of the day's committee meeting.

The JCP, the Democratic Party of Japan, and the Social Democratic Party soon lodged a protest to the Upper House president and demanded that the bill be sent back to the committee meeting so that opposition party members can exercise their right of question time.

JCP Koike, who was denied his questioning period, said, "Nothing can be worse than this. It's the stifling of democracy."

JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi said to reporters, "This is a denial of the right to take part in deliberations and such a vote is unacceptable. The ruling parties bulldozed the bill through knowing that further discussions would reveal more defects in the bill. The committee should discuss the bill from scratch," he said.

The news about the outrageous vote angered many, and rallies and demonstrations were held throughout Japan in protest against the act that has trampled on parliamentary democracy. (end)

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