Thursday, November 11, 2010

Opportunism Knocks

One cannot say enough about the political brio of the Komeito.

In the beginning of the extraordinary Diet session, the Komeito indicated that if the government worked together with the party and made some adjustments to the proposed supplementary budget, then the party would support the government when the legislation came up for a vote. The Democratic Party of Japan-led government complied with these requests, saying all kinds of nice things about the Komeito in public and private in the meanwhile.

Now, after the quadruple embarassments of the Chinese trawler captain's release, the inability to lure Ozawa Ichiro into answering questions about his political finances in some Diet forum, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's visit to Kunashiri and the leak of the videos of the collisions between the Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard ships -- all of which have combined to trigger a steep drop in the support levels for the Cabinet and for the DPJ -- the Komeito earlier this week indicated it had found fundamental problems with the structure of the supplementary budget making it impossible for the party to support the legislation.

Today, the Komeito confirmed that the party will be voting against the supplementary budget. However, not unexpectedly, the party confirmed that it will be voting in favor of the enabling legislation for the supplementary budget.

So they will vote against the supplementary budget--but for the legal framework that makes the supplementary budget possible.

Mindless? Pointless?

No, thanks to Article 60 of the Constitution.

The supplementary budget bill will sail through the House of Representatives thanks to the DPJ's huge 307 seat majority therein. The Komeito will join the opposition Liberal Democratic Party in voting against the bill. The bill will then move the House of Councillors where the LDP and the Komeito will again vote against it, meaning that the House of Councillors will have rejected the bill. However, since the House of Representatives will have voted for the bill and the House of Councillors will have taken action on the bill, albeit a negative action, during the Diet session, the bill will become law (Article 60).

Actual implementation of the plans outlined in the budget, including the plans for the tweaks the Komeito requested of the government back in the days when the DPJ and the Komeito were making friendly noises towards one another, requires the passage of some enabling legislation, however. This enabling legislation, being outside the purview of Article 60, must be passed by both Houses of the Diet if it is to become law (leaving aside for the moment the extremely unlikely possibility of a House of Representatives override of a rejection of the bill by the House of Councillors, a process outlined in Article 59 of the Constitution).

Not by strange coincidence is it then that the Komeito has no problems with voting for the enabling legislation necessary for the budget it is going to reject. By voting against the supplementary budget, the Komeito demonstrates its disgust with the lack of leadership of the Kan Cabinet in terms of both international and DPJ internal party affairs. It shows itself in solidarity with the other opposition parties. Yet by voting for the enabling legislation, it free rides on Article 60 to get the budget and the goodies too, with the added fillip of making the DPJ leadership look like fools.

One can have it all.

1 comment:

John Mock said...

Nice explanation, I was totally boggled reading about it. Now I (sort of) understand. Like the US, wonderous are the ways of modern national political systems.