Abe's Cherry Blossom Party Seen as Focus at Japan Diet

Politics

Tokyo, Nov. 17 (Jiji Press)--With only about three weeks left before the end of the current extraordinary session of the Diet, Japan's parliament, a scandal over a cherry blossom-viewing party hosted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to become a major issue in the political world.

Opposition parties are demanding that intensive debates over the issue be held at a budget committee meeting participated by the prime minister, but the ruling coalition, led by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, has no plan to accept the demand.

The opposition side at the same time is increasingly cautious about the scenario of Abe dissolving for a snap election the House of Representatives, the all-important lower chamber of the Diet, at next year's ordinary parliamentary session, which is slated to be convened in January, in an attempt to divert public attention from the matter.

The opposition camp is accusing Abe of using taxpayer money for his own interest, claiming that guests to the state-funded party included many of his supporters. Abe is also under fire as his personal office allegedly covered part of costs for a dinner for his supporters held on the eve of the cherry blossom party, a practice that could be in violation of the public offices election law. In addition, the list of guests to the cherry blossom party was discarded.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Abe tried to defend himself over the scandal, saying, among other things, that the costs for the dinner were fully borne by the guests and that there was no legal violation.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press