Japan's Diet convenes ordinary session with focus on political reform

Japan's Diet convened an ordinary session on Friday. The primary focus of debate is on political reform including legal revision, with the main governing Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio mired in a political funding scandal.

Upper House members opened their plenary session at 10 a.m. by offering a silent prayer for the victims of the quake that hit the Noto Peninsula in central Japan on New Year's Day. The chairs of the chamber's standing committees were then appointed.

At 1 p.m., an opening ceremony was held with Emperor Naruhito in attendance.

Prime Minister Kishida had earlier told a meeting of the LDP's Lower and Upper House members that voters are critical of his party because of the scandal. He said he is ready to debate with other parties on how to deal with the transparency of political funds. He said he will tackle the pressing issues facing Japan with a resolve that the country's future depends on the LDP's efforts to steer the helm.

The head of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, Izumi Kenta, spoke at the party's meeting of Upper House members. He criticized Kishida's government, saying it lacks a sense of crisis and the ability to manage the situation and does not focus on the people's lives. He said his party should strive to take power through dialogue with voters and cooperation with various sectors.

The session is scheduled to last for 150 days through June 23.

The prime minister normally delivers his annual policy speech on the day the session is convened. However, Kishida will give his speech on Tuesday.

Lawmakers are set to hold committee deliberations over political funding on Monday.

Three factions of the LDP, including one that was headed by Kishida, are suspected of failing to declare some revenue from fundraising events and giving kickbacks to members. The failure to report such revenue violates the political funds control law. Ten people, including three current and former lawmakers, are facing charges over the allegations. Many of them belonged to the largest faction that was formerly led by late Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

At the request of the opposition camp, 11 lawmakers who belonged to the Abe faction were replaced as committee or council chairs of the Diet.