Legislative Scheduling: A Case of the Japanese Diet

Mikitaka Masuyama

Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 3-6, 1998, Boston MA.


The Japanese Diet has several institutional features that together create a short session system. The scarcity of legislative time makes the possession of agenda power a central concern of parliamentary politics in Japan. How does Japan's short session system work? What difference can one make by exercising scheduling power? Why does the majority maintain such a system to limit its own deliberation time?
In this paper, I will describe the major institutional features of the Diet: (1) a parliamentary cabinet system, (2) an asymmetric bicameral system, and (3) a committee-centered deliberation system. Then, I will present a spatial model of law making that captures the constitutional design of the Diet. The model implies that a certain group of legislative proposals get agenda priorities while others do not receive enough deliberation time. To take account of the censored nature of legislative proceedings, I apply a duration model to estimate the hazard rate of legislative proposals and test the relationships between agenda priorities and legislative outcomes.