(Yomiuri: February 3, 2015 – p. 4)
Following are the main points of the questions and answers at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Feb. 2.
Masayoshi Nataniya (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ]): How did the government deal with the hostage taking incident by the ISIL?
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: The government’s policy was to give top priority to saving human lives. It made maximum use of all the communication channels cultivated to date to do everything possible for the early release of the hostages. We must never give in to terrorism and will never do so. We will further expand humanitarian aid to the Middle East and fulfill Japan’s obligations resolutely in the international community’s fight against terrorism.
Kohei Otsuka (DPJ): What did you mean by “working with the international community to hold them responsible for their deplorable acts”?
Abe: The terrorists who murdered the two Japanese are atrocious criminals. This was an expression of strong determination to cooperate with the international community to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice under the law, no matter how long this process will take.
Right to collective self-defense
Nataniya: What will you do if the U.S. asks the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to go to the other side of the world?
Abe: It will depend on whether the three new conditions (for the use of force) are met. This is not determined by geographical distance or proximity.
Otsuka: What are the issues for resolution to be able to rescue Japanese citizens (from ISIL-controlled areas)?
Abe: Consent of the territorial state, Syria, is improbable. Even with Syria’s consent, if ISIL is regarded as an organization equivalent to a state, it will not be possible to dispatch the SDF. In reality, even if all the legal requirements are met, there is still the very fundamental big question of whether it will be possible (for the SDF) to operate there.
Agricultural cooperative reform
Junichi Ishii (Liberal Democratic Party): What is your thinking on agricultural cooperative reform?
Abe: I will proceed with the radical reform of agricultural cooperatives boldly from the standpoint of the farmers. I am not saying that the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA Zenchu) should be relegated to the sideline; what I am saying is that farmers and the local agricultural cooperatives should be the main players. I would like to make agriculture a growth industry. (Slightly abridged)