The long-awaited parliamentary debate on the IR Implementation Bill began Tuesday in a plenary session of the House of Representatives, but on the very eve of its commencement a revelation regarding one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s swirling scandals shook the government anew.
Documents released by a prefectural governor on Monday proved quite clearly that the prime minister has been lying about his role in the Kake Gakuen school scandal. Abe, however, spent the day flatly denying the veracity of the new documentary evidence, offering nothing but his word in return.
As a result, almost half of the House of Representatives debate on the first day wasn’t about IRs at all, but rather attacks on the prime minister’s integrity.
This was particularly true of the fiery speech by Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Tomoko Abe (no family relationship to the prime minister), who spent almost all of her allotted time condemning the Abe government from top to bottom amidst cheers from the opposition benches and sometimes very loud heckling from the ruling party benches.
Other than Prime Minister Abe himself, most of the questions were fielded by Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii, who would have the primary authority within the Cabinet for overseeing many aspects of IR development.
The basic argument from the government side was that IRs would play a major role in promoting tourism and stimulating the economy, while the opposition focused on a variety of negative social effects that would attend the legalization of casino gambling.
The government hopes to secure passage of the IR Implementation Bill by the end of the Ordinary Diet Session on June 20. However, there is also talk of extending the session by a week or so if that proves to be impossible.