Japan's Diet: Ordinary session starts

Japan's Diet: Ordinary session starts

The Japanese Diet has opened its new session. Ruling and opposition parties are expected to hold heated debates on several issues including botched labor surveys that underpaid insurance benefits to millions of people.

The opening ceremony was held with Emperor Akihito in attendance.

The Emperor said, "I am glad the Diet has been working for many years to improve people's lives and maintain stability, as well as for peace and prosperity around the world. I sincerely hope the Diet will fulfill its mission and public mandate as the highest organ of state power when it deals with various problems at home and abroad."

This is the 82nd time that the Emperor has delivered an address at the Diet's opening ceremony since his ascension to the throne. Monday marks the last time he will attend such a ceremony before his scheduled abdication in April.

During a policy speech Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized for the recent revelations that the labor ministry's monthly survey of wages and working hours have been flawed for years.

Abe said, "I'm aware that the faulty surveys conducted over many years have violated people's trust in social security. I apologize to the Japanese people for this. We will reimburse underpaid unemployment benefits and workers compensation as swiftly as possible using simple procedures."

Opposition parties are calling for intensive deliberation on the issue. They say the scandal has undermined public trust in government offices, and are calling for the Labor Minister to be dismissed.

During this session, the government and the ruling bloc are seeking early enactments of a supplementary budget for this fiscal year, and a budget for fiscal 2019.