THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
March 16, 2022 at 17:50 JST
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy receives a standing ovation as he appears via videoconference to make an address to the Canadian Parliament on March 15. (The Canadian Press via AP)
The Ukrainian government has asked Japan to allow its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to address the Diet via a video link, according to sources in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Tokyo told the Foreign Ministry it would make the necessary arrangements with its own government if the proposal proves acceptable.
There is no precedent for a foreign leader to address the Diet via video link.
However, senior officials of the LDP’s Diet Affairs Committee are considering whether a conference room in the Diet building equipped with a screen could be made available so Zelenskyy can address Japanese lawmakers online.
Zelenskyy addressed the British Parliament via video on March 8. In his speech, Zelenskyy expressed his determination to stand up against the Russian invasion of his country, stating: “We will not give up. We will fight until the end.”
He also delivered a speech via videoconference to the Canadian Parliament on March 15.
The issue in Japan is further complicated by the fact that no Diet session has ever been conducted online.
This is because there is no unified interpretation of Article 56 of the Constitution, which stipulates that a plenary session of the Upper or Lower House cannot be held “unless one-third or more of (the) total membership is present.”
Views are divided on whether lawmakers participating in Diet sessions online would be regarded as “present” as defined in the Constitution.
However, on March 3, the Lower House Commission on the Constitution approved a report by a majority vote that the general consensus among political parties was that Diet sessions can be held online under constitutional provisions without making any revision.
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