The speaker and the vice-speaker are elected by secret ballot. Their term of office coincides with their term of office as members.
The speaker has the following powers:
(a)The power to maintain order in the house
When a member disturbs the order of the chamber or impairs the dignity of the house, the speaker warns or restrains the member or orders him or her to retract any inappropriate remarks. If the member refuses to obey the directive, the speaker may prohibit the member from speaking again until the sitting is over, order him or her to leave the chamber, or, according to circumstances, refer the case to the Standing Committee on Discipline. When a visitor in the public gallery obstructs the proceedings of the house, the speaker may order the person to leave the house or may, if necessary, direct that he or she be handed over to the police. The speaker may order the gallery to be cleared in the case of a disturbance.(b)The power to arrange the business of the house
(c)The power to supervise the administration of the house
- to refer a bill, after it is introduced, to an appropriate committee,
- to determine the order of the day,
- to call a plenary meeting by giving notification of the date and time of the sitting in the official bulletin of the house,
- to limit the length of time available for questions, debate, or speeches unless otherwise decided by the house,
- to allow a member to put a written question to the Cabinet,
- to call upon members of the house, the Prime Minister, other Ministers of State, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Senior Vice-Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Government special advisers to speak, and
- to declare the adjournment or suspension of the sitting.
(d)The power to represent the house
When the house has negotiations with the House of Councillors, the Cabinet, or others, the speaker represents the house. It is through the speaker that members can demand that the Cabinet convoke an extraordinary session and that a committee can request the presence at its meetings of the Prime Minister, other Ministers of State, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Senior Vice-Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Government special advisers or the president and members of the Audit Board.(e)Authority over committees
The speaker may attend and address committee meetings. With the consent of the speaker, a committee may hold public hearings and dispatch committee members for the purpose of examination or investigation.(f)Authority to record the minutes
The minutes are recorded under the supervision of the speaker, who has various powers over them. When a member is unable to complete a speech owing to time restrictions, the unfinished portion shall be entered in the minutes to the degree considered appropriate by the speaker unless otherwise decided by the house.(g)Police power in the house
The speaker exercises police power in order to maintain discipline in the house.
Diet guards perform police duties inside the house. When the speaker deems it necessary, however, he or she may call police officers inside the house. Upon such a request from the speaker, the Cabinet dispatches the necessary police officers, who are placed under the speaker's direction. When any person is found committing a criminal act in the house, guards or police officers can immediately arrest the offender and afterwards ask for further orders from the speaker. In the chamber, however, they cannot make such an arrest except on the order of the speaker.
Before the speaker exercises any of the powers mentioned above, he or she must consult with the Committee on Rules and Administration.
<<Return to Diet functions