Spotlight: Japan's opposition bloc demands Diet be reconvened over defense minister's controversial SDF remarks

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-29 16:48:16|Editor: ying
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TOKYO, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Japan's opposition parties on Thursday demanded an extraordinary session of the Diet be convened to deliberate Defense Minister Tomomi Inada's controversial remarks about using the Self-Defense Forces to promote a specific candidate in the upcoming Tokyo metropolitan assembly election.

The opposition parties made their demands to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by way of the House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima, who said he would pass the request on to the Cabinet.

The last ordinary Diet session ended on June 18.

"The Diet should be opened to bring issues to light, but the prime minister is running away," Democratic Party Secretary General Yoshihiko Noda was quoted as saying prior to a meeting with Oshima.

The main opposition Democratic Party, Japanese Communist, Liberal and Social Democratic parties have jointly called for Inada to be sacked for violating the nation's Self-Defense Forces Law, which strictly prohibits political activities by its personnel.

On Tuesday Inada called on voters at a stump speech to cast their ballots for a Liberal Democratic Party candidate, saying that the request came from "the Defense Ministry, the Defense Minister and the LDP."

Hours later she retracted her contentious comments saying that they might lead to "misunderstandings."

Democratic Party leader Renho, who goes by her first name, at the time said that Inada's remarks ran contrary to the SDF law and were out of line and insisted that she should resign immediately.

She added that Abe bore the responsibility as well as it was him that appointed her to her post as defense minister.

A scandal-mired LDP is hoping to cling on to its majority in the metropolitan assembly when voters in the capital go to the polls on July 2, but a new party, formed by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, is gaining traction during campaigning and will ensure the elections are not a one horse race.

Koike also blasted Inada's remarks calling them "inconceivable" and said that a defense minister should not have misunderstood the SDF's position on political neutrality.

Abe, for his part, cautioned Inada over her remarks but asked her to stay on, the government's top spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.

Suga conceded that Inada's remarks were misleading and that it was him that advised her to retract them and apologize for them as swiftly as possible.

The top government spokesperson was quoted as telling Inada that, as defense minister, she should have been fully aware of the the political neutrality of government institutions when declaring her support for a candidate, as per Japan's Self-Defense Forces Law.

As the opposition bloc continues to take aim against the ruling camp, it has already invoked Article 53 of the Constitution, to convene a separate extraordinary parliamentary session.

This is to further explore Abe and the Cabinet's involvement in favoritism allegations connected to the selection of a school operator chaired by a friend of Abe to open a new department in a special deregulated zone.