(Yomiuri: February 4, 2015 – p. 4)
Following are the main points of interpellation at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Feb. 3:
Japanese hostage incident
Takayuki Shimizu (Japan Innovation Party): It is necessary to review the hostage taking incident by the Islamic State dispassionately.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: This will be reviewed thoroughly by the government and we will also seek the views of experts. Information will basically be disclosed, except for items that need to be kept secret on account of cooperation with other countries and such other reasons.
Akira Koike (Japanese Communist Party): When did the government learn about Mr. Kenji Goto’s capture?
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: Last Nov. 1, we were contacted by the family and informed that Mr. Goto had gone missing. We were later told that the abductors’ group sent their first e-mail to the family on Dec. 3, and we became aware that he had most likely been captured.
Koike: Why did you not contact the Islamic State?
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: (The Islamic State) is indeed a terrorist organization, so it was not the kind of situation where we could contact them directly. The government used the most effective method possible by building channels of communication with the relevant countries, tribal leaders, and various other contacts.
Koike: Mr. Prime Minister, when you made the speech in Egypt, were you aware that this might endanger the hostages?
Abe: If Japan shows that it is afraid of terrorism and adopts an attitude of giving in to threats, the terrorists will think that their methods are effective, and this will give rise to new risks for Japanese nationals. It is extremely important to declare our continuous support for the countries fighting extremism. While it is not advisable to provoke the terrorists unnecessarily, there is absolutely no need to be overly solicitous to them.
Shinichi Yokoyama (Komeito): Will you strengthen information collection to ensure the safety of Japanese overseas?
Abe: I intend to send more defense attaches overseas. This will be effective for enhancing the protection of Japanese nationals since certain information can only be obtained through military contacts.
Mizuho Fukushima (Social Democratic Party): Why are you proceeding with the construction work (for the relocation of the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City) arbitrarily?
Abe: The Futenma base’s remaining permanently where it is must absolutely be avoided. (Relocation to Henoko) is the only solution, considering the need to maintain the U.S. forces’ deterrence and remove the danger posed by the Futenma base. We are working on this steadily in accordance with law. (Slightly abridged)