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It’s time to bring back debates in Diet between party leaders

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"Toshu toron," or televised debates between party leaders in the Diet, allow the heads of ruling and opposition parties to argue their policies as equals.

But not one was held last year.

That, probably, was due to the apparent disrespect for the legislature that started with the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and was inherited by his successor, Yoshihide Suga.

Modeled on the British Parliament's Question Time, Japan's toshu toron was officially introduced in 2000 with an eye to enlivening Diet debates and encouraging legislators to play a more active role in policymaking.

Until 2006, debates were held four to eight times a year, but they gradually grew few and far between over the ensuing years. After Abe became prime minister for the second time in 2012, the frequency dropped to once or twice a year, until it hit zero in 2017--the year that was rocked by the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution scandals--and then again in 2020.

The ruling parties wanted to keep the prime minister off the floor as much as........

© The Asahi Shimbun

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