Diet to convene extraordinary session Monday

The Diet will convene an extraordinary session on Monday, lawmakers said, with opposition parties aiming to grill Prime Minister Fumio Kishida over links between his party and a controversial religious group.
The session will continue for 69 days through Dec 10, the lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito said Wednesday, with approval ratings for Kishida's cabinet on a downward trend.
Opposition parties have called on Kishida to explain ties between his LDP and the Unification Church as well as the state funeral for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot during an election campaign speech in July.
Abe's state funeral, held Tuesday, drew criticism for lacking a legal basis and its ballooning costs. The government allocated more than 1.6 billion yen of taxpayers' money for the event, the first state funeral for a former prime minister in 55 years.
Regarding the Unification Church, founded by a staunch anti-communist in South Korea in 1954, there is growing concern about the controversial religious organization's links with ruling party lawmakers.
The organization, often labeled a cult, has come under scrutiny since Abe's assassination. The gunman, Tetsuya Yamagami, has been quoted by investigative sources as saying he harbored a grudge as his mother's substantial donations to the church had ruined his family's finances and Abe was targeted because of alleged links to the group.
In 2021, Abe appeared in a video message aired at an event held by an organization affiliated with the church.
The LDP has pledged to sever ties with the Unification Church and an internal investigation found around half of the party's lawmakers had some connection with the organization.
Kishida is likely to deliver a policy speech on the opening day of the parliamentary session, followed by questioning of his cabinet by other party leaders and budget committee sessions in both chambers.
The government is considering submitting around 20 bills to the Diet during the upcoming session, including a second supplementary budget bill for the fiscal year through March 2023 to address rising food and energy prices.

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