Japan on Wednesday voted to create a National Security Council, much like the one in the US. The Diet committee approved a bill to set up the new framework for gathering information and speeding up decision-making in diplomacy and defense.
With the backing of the House of Representatives’ Special Committee on National Security, the lower house will likely pass the bill on Thursday, increasing the likelihood it will be enacted before the current extraordinary Diet session ends on Dec. 6th.
If established, the NSC will empower the prime minister’s office to take the lead in crafting foreign and defense policy by gathering information from various ministries and agencies.
Japan’s ruling political party has proposed extending the current parliamentary session, which is set to end on Thursday, until Sept. 8 to buy enough time to vote on several contentious tax and social security reform bills, according to media reports. The Democratic Party of Japan and two key opposition parties sent a pair of bills to the Diet Wednesday night in a rare show of unity, the Nikkei newspaper reported in its online edition Thursday. The three parties will submit revised versions of a more contentious proposal to increase a consumption tax rate, as well as changes to the country’s social security, in the coming days. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda addressed an assembly of DPJ lawmakers Wednesday evening, calling for solidarity on the reforms package, but ran into opposition from a faction of the DPJ, headed by heavyweight politician Ichiro Ozawa, which is resisting the consumption tax hike, the Nikkei added.