In spite of setting up a project team last July to coordinate its intra-party policy, it is apparent that opinions within the ruling coalition Komeito party remain divided, even as the submission of the IR Implementation Bill likely draws near.
This opens up the prospect that, just as occurred in December 2016 with the IR Promotion Act, some ruling coalition lawmakers may even vote against the bill. That would be a painful prospect, especially because this time it is legislation compiled, not by an independent group of lawmakers, but officially by the government itself.
NHK, the national broadcaster, televised a debate between the policy chiefs of the seven largest political parties last Sunday. Overall, it demonstrated the now-familiar ideological dynamic of enthusiasm for IRs being stronger as one travels to the political right, and opposition being stronger as one goes further left.
The Komeito policy chief, Noritoshi Ishida, put his emphasis on gambling anti-addiction measures and indicated that he would prefer a go-slow approach on enacting the long-awaited IR Implementation Bill.
It remains to be seen how much deference the Abe government will choose to give to its divided coalition partner, Komeito, but there’s no question that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party together with conservative opposition parties have more than enough votes to ram it through, should they choose to do so.