In blow to Abe, panel delays showdown over prosecutor retirement bill
Japan Times -- May 16
In an unexpected move, the Lower House Cabinet Committee on Friday postponed a vote on a bill that would extend the retirement age for prosecutors, pushing back a showdown over the controversial plan until next week.

The ruling coalition was expected to ram the vote through the committee on Friday after allowing Justice Minister Masako Mori to testify, as demanded by the opposition.

The delay was a partial setback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had insisted that raising the retirement age is important to preserve expertise and that the move is consistent with a previous revision extending the retirement age for public servants. The ruling party is hoping to approve the bill next week.

The legislation is a target of vociferous protests from opposition lawmakers, lawyers and celebrities, who claimed the change would enable the politicization of an independent judiciary system.

“I can see why the government is trying to pass this bill amid the coronavirus outbreak,” said Yasufumi Fujino, an opposition Japanese Community Party lawmaker, before the committee vote. “I absolutely can’t condone the government acting like a thief at a fire and bulldozing this bill.”

The passage of the bill could impact Abe’s popularity, which is already taking a hit over the government’s handling of the coronavirus. The move may reinforce critics’ suspicions that the extension is politically motivated and that the government now has earned rationale to tap Hiromu Kurokawa — the head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office who is seen as having cozy ties with the Abe administration — as the next prosecutor general.

As of now, the retirement age for prosecutors is at 63 but that for the prosecutor general is 65. The legislation would uniformly extend the retirement age to 65, but with Cabinet approval, prosecutors and the prosecutor general could be kept on until age 68. It would be implemented from April 2022.

検察幹部が定年を迎えても政府の判断で幹部ポストにとどまることができる検察庁法の改正案を巡る与野党の攻防。15日、内閣委員会に森法務大臣が出席しました。  時の政権の判断で検察幹部の定年を延長できるようにする。それが、検察庁法改正案です。では、どういう基準で検察幹部の定年を延長するのでしょうか。  国民民主党・後藤祐一議員:「引き継ぐことができない・・・だから定年延長したり役職定年延長したりするわけでしょ?引き継げるんだったら次の人にやってもらえればいいじゃないですか。引き継ぎ不可能基準、これを明確に示してほしいんです」  森法務大臣 :「引き継ぎ不可能かどうかというのは事件の内容にもよりますし、また、その体制、また社会的な環境にもよると思いますので、一概にこの場でご答弁を申し上げることは困難でございます」  現在、検察官の定年はトップの検事総長が65歳。その他の検察官は63歳ですが、改正案では定年を一律65歳に引き上げたうえで、内閣や法務大臣が認めれば定年を迎えても最大3年間、在職できるとしています。この定年延長には元検事総長ら検察OBが反対を表明。かつての検察トップが法務省を訪れ意見書を提出する異例の事態となっています。  安倍総理大臣は、特例で認める検察幹部の定年延長については判断基準を事前に明確化すると表明しました。15日の委員会は午後に終了しました。
News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
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