TOKYO -- Opinion in Japan's government and ruling coalition is leaning against holding a special legislative session this autumn since the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement remains shrouded in secrecy, giving lawmakers nothing substantive to debate.
This year's ordinary session of parliament was extended until last month amid a contentious debate over national security bills, which eventually became law. Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sounded noncommittal on the prospect of an extra session.
Sadakazu Tanigaki, the Liberal Democratic Party's secretary-general, and Yoshihisa Inoue of ruling bloc partner Komeito agreed to hold consultations during the recess should opposition parties request information about the TPP.
Negotiations on the trade deal have just concluded, but the pact itself has yet to be drafted for signature and then must be ratified by each member state. Because the U.S. Congress is entitled to a 90-day consultation period before President Barack Obama puts pen to paper, the signing is not expected to happen until at least January. Japan's parliament essentially cannot begin its ratification debate until then.
With the TPP members still bound by confidentiality rules, "we would be able to do almost nothing with regard to the TPP in an autumn extraordinary session," says a senior LDP lawmaker. Abe also has a number of overseas obligations in his schedule in the coming weeks, so many officials see little reason to reconvene the Diet amid a lack of pressing legislative business.