Japan's Diet opens 150-day ordinary session on Monday

The Japanese Diet opens its 150-day ordinary session on Monday. The ruling and opposition parties are expected to hold heated discussions on measures to address rising prices and to bolster national defense.

An opening ceremony is to be held with Emperor Naruhito in attendance. This will be followed by policy speeches by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and ministers in charge of foreign, financial and economic affairs at plenary sessions of both houses.

Kishida plans to underscore his commitment to addressing the country's declining birthrate and to dramatically strengthening defense capabilities through earmarking 43 trillion yen, or more than 330 billion dollars, over five years for the defense budget.

The ruling coalition wants to pass the fiscal 2023 budget before the new fiscal year starts on April 1. It includes funds for COVID measures and steps to address surging prices.

The ruling parties also want to enact legislation to effectively extend the operational lifespan of nuclear reactors as part of the government's plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Opposition parties are accusing the Kishida government of making important policy decisions without Diet discussions. Opposition lawmakers will likely question the government's plan to raise taxes to cover the increase in defense spending, as well as its energy policy including the use of nuclear power plants.

The opposition camp is also expected to take up political scandals.
Four Cabinet ministers have resigned since last October over a series of scandals, including ones related to political funds and ties to a controversial religious group once called the Unification Church. The group is accused of soliciting large donations from its followers.