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Opposition mounts to Assembly limits on public questions during sessions

Date Posted: 2007-11-30

An Okinawa Prefecture Assembly steering committee wants to put a limit on public input during Assembly sessions, and opponents don’t like the idea.

The committee headed by the Liberal Democracy Party says “To make efficient assembly meetings, questions and answers together should last 51 minutes and then finish.” Opponents object, demanding there be no limits. “Sure, sometimes a motion is easy and the time can be short,” they argue, “but when the motion is difficult, time goes longer. It has to be case by case.”

Assembly statisticians say the longest question and answer time was 81 minutes, and the shortest 30 minutes. The current time is 17 minutes for discussion, which everyone agrees is too short. Longer public discussion periods would lead to longer work hours for Assembly staff, the LDP notes, and says it would send overtime soaring. “If we make limits,” the LDP points out, “Assembly members can squeeze in more questions and answers, and finish more easily.

Both sides have agreed to further discussions, saying they’ll do what is best for Assembly members and citizens.

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