Move to allow private companies to handle public water supply has politicians fired up, supporters unwilling to communicate as dissenter shouts “No! No! No! No! No!”

Traditionally, Japan prides itself on respectful conduct and polite, controlled communication, all in the interest of softening conflict and promoting harmony. At least, that’s how conversations in Japan go nine times out of ten.

An extreme exception to the norm took place this week in the Diet, Japan’s national parliament. A proposed amendment to Japan’s Water Supply Act aims to allow for private companies to handle water services. The plan received support from both the Liberal Democratic Party (which occupies the largest number of seats in the Diet) and the Komeito party but faced fierce opposition from critics belonging to other political affiliations.

Just how fierce? Take a look at the video below, though you might want to turn down your speaker volume first.

That was supposed to be a debate among members of the House of Representatives. Instead, it turned into a dozens-of-competitors-large shouting match, with some of the only words that can be clearly made out being the impassioned and repeated “Dame! Dame! Dame!” (“No! No! No!”).

You’ll notice that four seconds into the video, a large number of legislators calmly stand up from their desks, seemingly oblivious to the scene of chaos that’s unfolding at the podium. That’s because the amendments’ supporters, knowing that their numbers were greater than the opposition’s, decided to skip the discussion and jump straight into voting, railroading through the new law, which was also approved by the Diet’s upper house, the House of Councillors.

In broad terms, those in favor of the new law say it’s a necessary revision to provide needed upgrades to deteriorating infrastructure, something that government controlled local water utilities, one-third of which were operating in the red last year, can’t afford to do. Critics, meanwhile, say that the plan to allow local governments to sell the water supply rights to private companies for periods of up to 20 years is opening the door to outright privatization of a vital public service, and cite rapidly increasing costs to consumers in other countries that have established similar systems as a cautionary tale.

Again, that’s putting things in broad terms by skipping over a wealth of more detailed information and data, which are exactly the sort of things one would hope politicians would examine and discuss before making decisions that could have decades-long repercussions. Sadly, that hope seems to have gone unanswered.

Sources: Twitter/@article9jp via Hachima Kiko, The Mainichi