TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide, who took office last month, is likely to give his first policy speech before parliament after an overseas trip in mid-October.
On Thursday, the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party started arrangements to convene an extraordinary session of the Diet, the country’s parliament, on Oct. 26.
Suga is expected to deliver the speech that day, 40 days after he assumed the top government post. It is unusual for a prime minister to take such a long time to give the first policy speech.
The decision to prioritize Suga’s first overseas trip as prime minister over the Diet session triggered a backlash from opposition parties, which said he is belittling the Diet.
On Wednesday, LDP Diet affairs head Hiroshi Moriyama told Jun Azumi, his counterpart in the biggest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, that the government and the ruling bloc plan to convene the Diet session Oct. 23.
But the plan was changed soon, after the prime minister’s office told Moriyama that it wants the Diet session to start on Oct. 26 because the mid-October trip to Southeast Asia was decided on.
At Wednesday’s meeting with Moriyama, Azumi said that it is usual for a prime minister to deliver the first policy speech before visiting other countries. He stressed that the order should not be reversed.
On Thursday, Azumi criticized the government and the ruling camp. “Delaying the start of the Diet session means disrespecting the Diet and the public,” Azumi told reporters.
Other opposition leaders, including Social Democratic Party head Mizuho Fukushima, were also critical.
Among all prime ministers who took office in or after 2000, Taro Aso is the only one who went abroad before giving the first policy speech before parliament, excluding two cases that involved changes of government. Aso made the trip to attend the UN General Assembly.