Following enactment of the fiscal 2016 budget, the main focus of the second half of the current session of the National Diet is expected to be approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and the passage of related bills. Questioning concerning approval of the agreement and related bills was scheduled to commence in a plenary session of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Japan's bicameral Diet, on April 5.
With the aim of obtaining approval in the current session of the Diet, the ruling parties hope to have a proposal for approval of the TPP agreement and related bills, which include measures to support farmers after the agreement goes into effect, deliberated in a House of Representatives special committee as soon as possible.
Last week Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said, "[The TPP agreement] will be a big chance for the Japanese economy and, with the birth of such a large free trade area, extremely meaningful for the world economy. There are some concerns in Japan, but the related bills address them properly, so the most important thing is to explain them clearly."
A long extension of the current Diet session will be difficult due to the upcoming G7 Ise-Shima summit in May and an election for the House of Councillors in the summer. The ruling parties therefore plan to hold deliberations in a special committee of the House of Representatives as soon as possible and then get the bills passed by the lower house.
In response, President Katsuya Okada of the Minshinto (Democratic Party) last week criticized the government's inadequate disclosure of information relating to the TPP negotiating process, noting, for example, that the content of negotiations between former Minister for Economic Revitalization Akira Amari, who was in charge of negotiations, and US Trade Representative Michael Froman had not been made public at all. The opposition parties are expected to call on the government to submit necessary reference materials before deliberations begin in a special committee and to summon former Minister for Economic Revitalization Amari and Japan's chief negotiator, Koji Tsuruoka of the government's TPP headquarters, to appear before the committee.
RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) will keep an eye on the state of negotiations and the government's response from now on and take additional countermeasures if necessary. The confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties can be expected to heat up ahead of this summer's House of Councillors election.