January 4, 2012
During the 179th extraordinary Diet session (between October 20 and December 9), about 4.55 million petition signatures or 79% of the total of 5.78 million signatures were submitted to the Diet via the Japanese Communist Party, while the Liberal Democratic and the Democratic parties submitted 280,000 signatures (4.8%) each.
Petitioning is an established tactic which enables people to directly make a request to the Diet, national ministries, and local assemblies based on established rules. Along with the right to vote, the right to petition is one of the constitutional rights. Under rules established in both the Upper and the Lower Houses of the Diet, petitions should be submitted to the chairman of each House through a House member’s introduction. If a petition is adopted by a relevant committee of each House, the cabinet should respond to the petition.
The number of petitions submitted to the Diet via JCP Dietmembers totaled 402 out of 768 petitions presented to the House of Representatives and 405 out of 653 to the House of Councilors.
Farmers’ organizations, including the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-Zenchu), had submitted to both Houses a petition opposing Japan’s participation in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement through more than 300 lawmakers’ introductions who are members of the JCP and other political parties.
JCP lawmaker Kami Tomoko and an LDP lawmaker at a House of Councilors agriculture committee meeting urged the committee to discuss and adopt the petition. However, due to objections from DPJ lawmakers, the committee did not adopt the petition.
A petition calling for breaking away from nuclear power generation signed by 375,000 people was submitted to the House of Representatives by JCP Deitmember Yoshii Hidekatsu. When he demanded an adoption of the petition in a House committee meeting by saying, “Respecting public demand, the petition should be adopted,” many other representatives, including LDP members and DPJ members, opposed.
As well as JCP parliamentarians, some members of the DPJ agreed to introduce petitions against a consumption tax hike and petitions calling for the improvement of public childcare services. But they refused to adopt such petitions in the relevant committee meetings.
During the extraordinary Diet session, a total of 5 petitions were adopted in both Houses. Of them, a petition urging the government to take measures to prevent further negative health effects from the nuclear accident and to monitor the health conditions of residents near the Fukushima nuclear plant was introduced by JCP lawmakers. With increasing public pressure demanding immediate government measures to protect people’s health from radiation, the House of Councilors adopted the petition.