The second override

The House of Councillors voted yesterday to reject the ten-year road construction plan passed by the House of Representatives in March. The bill was defeated 108 to 126, with DPJ (proportional representation) members Oe Yasuhiro and Watanabe Hideo rebelling against the party leadership to support the bill, and Kimata Yoshitake (Aichi) and Hironaka Wakako (Chiba) abstaining from the vote. The PNP’s four members, who caucus with the DPJ, also abstained from the vote.

The Fukuda government plans to bring the bill to a second vote in the HR Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday morning the government plans to secure a cabinet decision on Mr. Fukuda’s plan to phase out the special road construction fund, a precondition for forestalling a rebellion by Kono Taro and his band of reformists. The path to a cabinet decision has been tortuous, as reported by Mainichi. Until the LDP’s defeat in the Yamaguchi-2 by-election, the government’s policy was to wait until after passing the road construction plan a second time before securing a cabinet decision on the Fukuda plan. Taking the threat of rebellion seriously, the government has changed tacked, and, consistent with the Fukuda government’s poor sense of timing, has put off securing a cabinet decision until Tuesday.

Presumably that will ensure that Mr. Kono and his comrades will vote with the government in the afternoon. Yamamoto Ichita anticipates that not even one will defect. He argues, however, that the real battle is yet to come. A cabinet decision is not enough; the reformists will have to fight within the LDP to ensure that the party embraces the prime minister’s plan.

Assuming that the road construction plan passes Tuesday afternoon, an extra ten years of road construction funded by the special road construction fund will be law — and Mr. Fukuda’s plan still just words.

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