Photo/IllutrationThe Upper House plenary session on June 16 passes revisions to the Criminal Law to impose harsher penalties for sex crimes. (Takeshi Iwashita)

The ruling coalition passed dozens of bills in the ordinary Diet session that effectively ended on June 16, drawing boasts from the dominant Liberal Democratic Party.

But during the 150-day session, the coalition used strong-armed tactics to roll back reforms related to Diet debate and left questions unanswered about the integrity of top leaders, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The opposition parties again found themselves unable to mount an effective offensive against the ruling coalition, which occupies about two-thirds of the seats in both chambers of the Diet.

“(The government) continued to flee (from questioning) and conceal (facts),” Kazunori Yamanoi, chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee of the main opposition Democratic Party, said on June 16. “That was the intention of the prime minister.”

The Diet session ended on a sour note for the opposition camp: the high-handed passage of the contentious anti-conspiracy legislation.

“In this Diet session, we were able to pass all the bills we had wanted to pass,” Wataru Takeshita, chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee of the LDP, said on June 16.

Other bills passed included those for the fiscal 2017 budget, special case legislation to allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate, a bill on rezoning single-seat constituencies for Lower House elections, and revisions to the Criminal Law.

The ruling parties set the pace for Diet deliberations. Committee chairmen chosen from the ruling camp of the LDP and Komeito frequently used their official powers to decide the schedules for debate and voting.

For the anti-conspiracy legislation, those powers were used to ensure bureaucrats would always take part in committee meetings on behalf of Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda, who had faltered in his responses to opposition questioning.

In the latter half of the 1990s, a “reformed Diet framework” was established so that the public’s election representatives would be more active than bureaucrats in answering questions in the Diet.

The ruling parties destroyed that framework by bailing out Kaneda.

In addition, the just-completed ordinary Diet session was the first that did not include one-on-one debates between party leaders.

Opposition lawmakers went on the offensive during the session over the dubious sale of state-owned land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, to school operator Moritomo Gakuen.

Moritomo Gakuen had planned to open an elementary school on the land, and first lady Akie Abe assumed--and later stepped down from--the post of honorary principal of the school.

The opposition camp demanded that Abe’s wife be summoned to the Diet to clarify her relationship to the school operator and other issues. But the ruling camp refused to allow that to happen.

Moritomo Gakuen’s former head director, Yasunori Kagoike, did testify in the Diet as a sworn witness, and he said he received a donation of 1 million yen (about $9,030) from Abe through the first lady.

The prime minister denied making any such donation, and the Diet session ended without determining who was telling the truth.

Abe is also suspected of involvement in the scandal over a veterinary medicine faculty planned by the Kake Educational Institution, run by a close friend of the prime minister.

Documents showed that the Cabinet Office pressured the education ministry to swiftly approve Kake’s plan, noting it was the “prime minister’s intent.”

Government officials initially described the documents as “dubious.” And by the time a reinvestigation by the education ministry confirmed the existence of the documents, the Diet session was essentially over.

In the first half of the session, opposition parties raised the possibility of a cover-up of the dangerous situation in South Sudan, where Ground Self-Defense Force members were involved in a peacekeeping operation. The situation was described in daily reports written by the GSDF members, but the Defense Ministry said the records had been destroyed.

Digital records of the reports later surfaced at the ministry, but Defense Minister Tomomi Inada refused to provide an explanation, saying she left the investigation of the issue to the inspector’s office at the ministry.

The announcement of the results of that investigation was postponed until after the close of the Diet session.

The government submitted 66 bills to the ordinary Diet session, and 63 were passed, a success rate of 95.5 percent. The figure does not include bills submitted by lawmakers.

The ratio is the second highest for an ordinary Diet session since the LDP returned to power in 2012. In the 2014 session, the rate was 97.5 percent.