--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 20
EDITORIAL: Abe, take note: There is a pressing need for fall Diet session
(社説)臨時国会 召集の求めに応じよ

The Abe administration is set to forgo an autumn extraordinary Diet session.
安倍内閣は、この秋の臨時国会の召集を見送る方向だ。

In response, the Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties called Oct. 19 on the Abe Cabinet to convoke a Diet session quickly. Abe should immediately grant this totally legitimate demand.
これに対し民主党はじめ野党がきのう、早期の召集を求めることで一致した。当然の要求であり、安倍首相はただちに応じるべきだ。

It is customary to convene an extraordinary Diet session in autumn to resume work that was not finished during the regular Diet session, such as incomplete deliberations on important bills.
通常国会で尽くせなかった法案審議などのため、秋に臨時国会を開くことは慣例となっている。

It would be the first time since 2005 for an autumnal session not to be convened.
この秋に開かれなければ、05年以来ログイン前の続きのことになる。

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explained that the government “has no choice but to give a higher priority to the prime minister’s diplomatic agenda” rather than to calling a new Diet session now.
菅官房長官は「首相の外交日程を優先せざるを得ない」と説明する。

It is true that Abe’s diplomatic schedule through November is tight with a series of important international conferences, including a trilateral meeting with the leaders of China and South Korea and a summit of the Group of 20 industrialized nations.
11月にかけて日中韓首脳会談や主要20カ国・地域首脳会議などが続くのは確かだ。

But there is a heap of policy issues that demand Diet debate.
一方で、立法府の議論が求められる政策課題は山ほどある。

Abe reshuffled his Cabinet earlier this month and announced a new policy agenda, which includes “three new arrows” of "Abenomics" to achieve ambitious goals like increasing Japan’s gross domestic product to 600 trillion yen as well as a plan to build a society where 100 million people will all play active roles.
首相は第3次改造内閣を発足させ、GDP600兆円などを目標とする「新3本の矢」や「1億総活躍社会」を掲げた。

But many Japanese question the achievability of these policy goals and are unsure about what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meant by “active roles.”
ただ、その実現可能性や「総活躍」の意味について、首をかしげる国民も多い。

Abe needs to outline his vision in a policy speech at the Diet and then respond to people’s doubts by answering questions about his speech from other Diet members.
首相はまず所信表明演説でめざすところを明確にし、質疑を通じて国民の疑問に答える必要がある。

As for recently enacted national security legislation, Abe promised to “continue efforts to offer detailed explanations in order to gain more public understanding.”
また、安全保障関連法制について首相は「国民の理解がさらに得られるよう丁寧に説明する努力を続けたい」と語った。

He should fulfill his promise by offering more explanations about related questions, such as what steps he intends to take in the future under the new security laws.
言葉通り、今後どのような運用を考えているのかなど、いっそうの説明責任を果たすべきだ。

Other topics that need to be discussed at the Diet include the content of the agreement recently reached in the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact; the controversial plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, which has led to bitter confrontation between the Abe administration and the prefectural government; the challenge of mending Japan’s strained relations with its neighbors; and the question of how Japan should respond to the unfolding refugee crisis.
環太平洋経済連携協定(TPP)での合意内容、政府と沖縄県の対立が深まっている米軍普天間飛行場の移設問題、近隣外交の立て直しや難民対策なども議論しなければならない。

It would be outrageously selfish of the government to demand that the Diet deal with all these issues in the ordinary Diet session to be called early next year. The government should be criticized for belittling the importance of Diet debate on policy issues.
これだけの論点を、すべて年明けの通常国会に持ち越せというのは身勝手ではないか。国会軽視と言われても仕方がない。

There are also questions that some of the new members of the Cabinet should answer.
新閣僚にも問いたいことがある。

It has been revealed that the local branch of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party headed by farm minister Hiroshi Moriyama received political donations from construction companies that had been barred from bidding for public works contracts with the Kagoshima prefectural government.
森山農水相が代表を務める自民党支部は、鹿児島県から指名停止となった建設会社による寄付を受けていた。

There are also other ministers who are caught up in scandals.
不祥事が指摘される閣僚はほかにもいる。

It is not in Abe’s best interest to allow people to suspect that the government is reluctant to convene a Diet session because it wants to delay the opposition camp’s attacks on its policies as much as possible.
政府側が早期の国会に及び腰なのは、野党の追及をできるだけ遅らせたいからではないか。そう見られては首相としても不本意だろう。

The opposition parties are considering invoking Article 53 of the Constitution to force the Cabinet to call a Diet session.
野党は憲法53条に基づく召集要求を視野に入れている。

It stipulates that the Cabinet must convoke an extraordinary session when a quarter or more of all the members of either House demands it.
53条は、衆参いずれかで総議員の4分の1以上の要求があれば、内閣は召集を決定しなければならない、と定めている。

But the article doesn’t state when the Cabinet must do so. That means the Cabinet can postpone taking action.
条文には召集期日の規定はなく、内閣としては引き延ばしも可能だが、

Refusing to convene a session at an early date, however, would run counter to the constitutional principle of respecting the intentions of minority groups.
だからといって早期召集を拒めば、少数派の意向を尊重すべきだという憲法の趣旨に反することになる。

The Abe Cabinet should decide to call an extraordinary Diet session on its own without waiting for the opposition camp to make the demand.
野党の要求を待つまでもなく、安倍内閣はみずから臨時国会召集に踏み切るべきだ。

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