INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Post-Lower House Election Mechanics

Published: Mon 17 Aug 2009 09:33 PM
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 001894
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV JA
SUBJECT: POST-LOWER HOUSE ELECTION MECHANICS
REF: TOKYO 1686
1. (SBU) Summary: Regardless of who emerges victorious in
the August 30 election, the mechanics for forming a new
government are determined by Japan's Constitution. These
include calling a special session of the Diet to order and
electing a new Prime Minister. With the Pittsburgh Summit
and UNGA only three weeks after the election, the winning
party will likely move swiftly to form a new government.
Most Embassy Tokyo contacts predict a 10-14 day period before
a new government is formed. Until then, the current Prime
Minster and Cabinet remain in office. End summary.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SPECIAL SESSION OF THE DIET
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2. (U) The first order of business in forming a new
government after an election is convening a special session
of the Diet within 30 days (by September 29 in this case).
Immediately after the election, leaders of the party with a
Lower House majority consult with other party heads to
determine the starting date of this session. Once the date
has been set, the Emperor calls the special session to order.
The duration of the session is determined by both the Lower
House and Upper House. If they disagree, the Lower House
makes the final decision. The special session can be
extended twice.
3. (SBU) The calendar of international events will be a key
factor in how quickly the victorious party seeks to call a
special session. With the Pittsburgh Summit scheduled for
September 20 and the UNGA shortly thereafter, the victorious
party will likely move swiftly to convene a special session
and form a government. Most Embassy Tokyo contacts predict
that a period of 10-14 days before a new government is in
place. Until then, the current Prime Minister and Cabinet
will remain in office.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
CREATION OF A NEW GOVERNMENT
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4. (U) The constitution (Article 70) states that the first
order of business at the special session is the resignation
of all current Cabinet members. Next, the Speaker of the
Lower House is elected by Diet members. The candidate with
the majority of votes wins. Traditionally, the Speaker is
selected from the ruling party or coalition, and the Vice
Speaker from the opposition. Once elected, both give up
their party affiliations and become independent Diet members.
5. (U) Usually on the same day, the Diet votes on the new
prime minister. Both the Lower and Upper Houses select a new
prime minister, or redesignate the current one. If the
houses do not agree on a designee or the Upper House fails to
put forth a designee within ten days, the Lower House's
designee becomes prime minister. After the decision is made,
the Speaker of the Lower House reports the result to the
Emperor, who must swear in the prime minister-designate
before he/she can officially assume their duties. The
process of imperial swearing-in takes about one to
one-and-a-half days, depending on the Emperor's schedule.
6. (U) Once sworn in by the Emperor, the prime minister can
officially appoint his/her ministers-designate. In reality,
however, the prime minister-designate is likely to have lined
up his or her Cabinet picks in advance. After he or she has
been nominated, the prime minister-designate usually sets up
a Cabinet Formation Headquarters in the kantei (prime
minister's office) for deliberation, then calls in the state
ministers-designate to inform them which position they are
requested to take up. After that, the Emperor officially
approves the prime minister's picks for Cabinet positions.
Although there is no law that limits the number of days
TOKYO 00001894 002 OF 002
within which a Cabinet must be selected, prime ministers
traditionally have appointed their ministers within a week of
being designated.
ZUMWALT
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