(Nikkei: February 21, 2015 – p. 4)
Seiji Maehara (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ])
Resale of Chongryon headquarters
Q: If the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) signs a lease contract with the company that acquired its headquarters building, it will be able to continue using the building. The former House of Councillors member who mediated the deal says this is in the national interest because it will contribute to the development of the Japan-North Korea relationship. Do you agree?
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: This is a commercial deal that is completely separate from the Japan-North Korea negotiations.
Q: The government should issue an order to prevent the illegal use of the building.
Abe: Since taxpayer money had been injected [to dispose of bad debts], debt collection should naturally be enforced strictly.
Takeshi Shina (DPJ)
Q: Don’t you think you behaved improperly at the DPJ division meeting on Feb. 18?
NHK Chairman Katsuto Momii: It is regrettable if my remarks resulted in misunderstanding. I will make sure to give careful explanations with sincerity from now on.
Q: Don’t you feel any responsibility for appointing him?
Abe: The government should not comment on specific remarks by the chief executive of a broadcaster. I hope that he will continue to fulfill his responsibility without fail.
Kiyomi Tsujimoto (DPJ)
Q: While you were going to concerts and watching movies in late 2014, the lives of two people and the country were in danger.
Abe: It is also an important job of the prime minister to remain both physically and mentally healthy. We dealt with the incident properly. The relevant officials will continue to deal with issues accordingly.
Masato Imai (Japan Innovation Party [JIP])
Q: Relocation opponents won all elections in Okinawa, including the gubernatorial and House of Representatives elections.
Abe: We must take those results seriously.
Q: The government’s leader should be meeting with Governor Takeshi Onaga, who won the popular mandate.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: I am more than willing to meet with him. My schedule allowing, I will certainly consider a meeting.
Q: You did not mention the final disposal sites for radioactive waste in your campaign pledges for the Lower House election and your policy speech to the Diet.
Abe: It is the political authorities’ responsibility to identify disposal sites in order not to leave the burden to future generations. We will proceed with the selection process step by step while obtaining the understanding of the Japanese people and the local communities. The national government will take the lead in this process based on scientific evidence.
Q: The consent of surrounding communities should also be required for the reactivation of Kansai Electric Power Company’s Takahama nuclear plant.
Abe: The scope of local community consent and how to obtain such consent should not be determined by the national government alone. It is important to proceed by consulting with the local communities. We would like to communicate closely with the stakeholders and deal with this appropriately.
Kenta Matsunami (JIP)
Q: Don’t you think we need to revise the constitution promptly?
Abe: We have finally reached the starting point for the final step before holding a referendum. The Commissions on the Constitution [of both houses of the Diet] should discuss the timetable and other issues.
Toshihide Muraoka (JIP)
Farm minister’s political donations
Q: You are suspected of having served as the adviser of a timber processing company that was receiving subsidies from the government when you were out of office.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Koya Nishikawa: I had no income when I was out of office, so I served as adviser to several companies. I will give you a detailed answer after looking into this matter properly. (Abridged)