In January, the endgame was marred by Ozawa Ichiro’s storming out of the Diet before the refueling bill came to a vote again.
Wednesday, the endgame was marred by the DPJ’s boycotting the vote en masse and, more seriously, DPJ members barricading Kono Yohei, speaker of the House of Representatives, in his office for an hour before guards escorted him to the Diet chambers for the vote on the tax. The former is less troubling than the latter; not showing up is a great way to ensure that no one breaks ranks on the vote, and, as MTC notes in a comment to Jun Okumura’s post on the boycott, “Boycotting sessions en masse is also a recognized form of Diet protest. That opposition members chose to boycott the session was a reasonable response to an unreasonable approach to lawmaking.”
Barricading the speaker of the house in his office, however, is inexcusable. Reminiscent of the Socialist Party’s futile raging against the LDP during the cold war, the use of physical pressure to restrain a legislative officer has no place in a democracy. Whatever the DPJ thinks of the government’s use of the supermajority to reinstate the temporary tax despite public opposition, the government, contra Hatoyama Yukio (who according to Okumura-san likened the government’s acting without formal disapproval by the HC to an act of violence), is acting in accordance with the constitution. Article 59 gives the HR the right to override the HC with a two-thirds vote if the latter does not act on legislation within 60 days.
The LDP may come to regret governing by Article 59, but that is for the people to decide. It is for the DPJ to act with dignity, register its complaints through the proper channels, and then campaign like hell against this manner of rule when the next general election comes.