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Japan's Parliament convenes for session in run-up to summer elections

Japan's Parliament convenes for session in run-up to summer elections

Japan's Parliament convened Thursday for a session expected to last until June, with issues such as education reform and a proposed constitutional amendment likely to be debated, and with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet fighting a range of scandals.
Parliamentary debates this session were expected to be particularly heated because of elections for half of the body's 242-seat upper house slated for July
"We would like to carry out parliamentary debates where the public can actually feel the results of reforms that will further enrich their lives," said chief Cabinet spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki.
Abe has set education and a revision to Japan's post-World War II constitution as his top priorities. His planned education reforms seek to raise the level of students' academic performance, which has been sagging, and reduce bullying. Abe is also looking to imbue a more "patriotic" tone in classrooms, a move that has been criticized by the opposition as an attempt to teach nationalism.
His proposed constitutional changes have also been controversial.
Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has long sought to eliminate the strict ban on the military from using force as a means of settling international disputes. The pacifist clause has been a cornerstone of the constitution promulgated shortly after Japan's surrender at the end of World War II in 1945.
Abe and others in his party want to free up the military to participate more broadly in international peacekeeping operations and to provide a stronger deterrent against attack from neighboring North Korea and other potential threats.
Opposition lawmakers, bolstered by a strong pacifist sentiment in Japan, are expected to question the need for the revision.
They are also planning to grill Abe on scandals within his Cabinet, particularly on the use of political funding.
One of Abe's Cabinet ministers had to resign amid allegations that he misused political funds, and there have been other allegations that public funds have been used for private purposes.
Parliament had been in recess since Dec. 19.


Updated : 2021-05-19 10:15 GMT+08:00