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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 August 18 - 24  > Suga gov't extends COVID-19 state of emergency while refusing to hold extraordinary Diet session
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2021 August 18 - 24 [POLITICS]

Suga gov't extends COVID-19 state of emergency while refusing to hold extraordinary Diet session

August 19, 2021

The four opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, held a meeting in the Dietmembers' office building on August 17 and agreed to jointly demand that an extraordinary Diet session be immediately convened, following their similar demand last month, so that lawmakers can discuss more effective ways to tackle the current rapid rise in COVID-19 infections.

The Suga government on the same day extended a COVID-19 state of emergency until September 12 in six prefectures, including Tokyo, and the measure will newly apply to seven other prefectures. As of August 17, the number of new COVID-19 cases per day reached about 20,000 and the number of severe cases topped 1,600.

The Suga government, however, continues to refuse to open an extraordinary session. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has not even shown up for out-of-session meetings of the Diet committees on anti-coronavirus measures. He is leaving accountability to Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, who is also minister in charge of COVID-19 countermeasures, in explaining to both Houses' steering committees about the state of emergency Suga himself declared.

JCP Chair Shii Kazuo, in the meeting with three other opposition parties (the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Democratic Party for the People, and the Social Democratic Party), criticized the Suga government for neglecting to enhance the PCR testing capacity, sending a wrong and misleading message to the public by holding the Olympics and Paralympics during the state of emergency, and imposing on the public "self-responsibility" and forcing people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to recuperate at home in principle. Shii called on opposition party representatives to stress these points and have the government address them in the Diet session.

Article 53 of the Constitution stipulates, "The Cabinet may determine to convoke extraordinary sessions of the Diet. When a quarter or more of the total members of either House makes the demand, the Cabinet must determine on such convocation." The four opposition parties combined account for more than one-fourth of Diet seats. Ignoring this constitutional provision is the same as violating the Constitution.

Past related article:
> Expansion of COVID state of emergency indicates PM Suga’s lack of sense of crisis [August 1, 2021]

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