(Tokyo Shimbun: March 4, 2015 – p. 6)
Following is the gist of interpellations at the intensive session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on March 3:
SDF’s overseas operations
Masakazu Hamachi (Komeito): The Diet should be involved with decisions to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) overseas.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: The Diet’s involvement is important from the standpoint of civilian control.
Yukio Edano (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ]): Minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East is not a case where the exercise of the right to collective self-defense can be invoked.
Abe: If Japan is deprived of its supply of oil, this will deal a fatal blow to the supply of electricity. It could also become a matter of life and death. Therefore, this could be a case that meets the three new conditions for the use of force (to exercise the collective self=defense right). The loss of energy sources would mean the loss of the very foundation of our livelihoods. It is the political authorities’ responsibility to enable response to such situations under the law.
Kiyomi Tsujimoto (DPJ): It will be possible to use force anywhere in the world as long as the three conditions are met.
Abe: Sending armed troops to another country’s territory, territorial waters, or airspace with the goal of using force exceeds the bounds of minimum required force for self-defense allowed under the Constitution.
Interpretation of history
Akihisa Nagashima (DPJ): There is a misconception that you are a historical revisionist.
Abe: I am definitely not a historical revisionist. The expression “departure from the postwar regime” is causing misunderstanding in other countries. This expression refers to domestic politics and is not meant to challenge the postwar order.
Tsujimoto: What is the purpose of the provision on civilian control in the Defense Ministry Organization Law?
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani: It does not mean that bureaucrats control the SDF.
Okinawa base issues
Mikio Shimoji (Japan Innovation Party): When will reclamation and embankment work start in Henoko, Nago City (where the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station will be relocated)?
Nakatani: Reclamation will start as soon as this summer if all the preparations can be made. We are proceeding with contracting to begin embankment work in fiscal 2015.
Shimoji: Aren’t you going to meet with Governor Takeshi Onaga?
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: I would like to meet with him in the not-so-distant future to reiterate the administration’s thinking in order to obtain his understanding.
Seiken Akamine (Japanese Communist Party): The U.S. military detained two citizens protesting Henoko relocation illegally.
Abe: The U.S. forces are authorized to take necessary measures to maintain order and security at facilities and sites under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). (Abridged)