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POLITICS

Gist of Lower House Budget Committee meeting, Nov. 10

  • 2015-11-12 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: November 11, 2015 – p. 6)

 

 Following is the gist of deliberations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on Nov. 10, held while the Diet was in recess:

 

 Tomomi Inada (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP])

 

 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

 

 Inada: A basic TPP agreement has been reached. What is its significance and what is your strategy from now on?

 

 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Japan takes pride in its safe and tasty agricultural products. These products will be given the recognition they deserve. Agricultural will be made an industry with a future. The government as a whole will be supportive in dealing with farmers’ concerns and adopt and implement all possible measures. Agriculture will become a growth industry. Deepening economic interdependence with countries with which we share common values is also extremely important for Japan’s security.

 

 Relations with China, the ROK

 

 Inada: The Japan-China-ROK summit was held for the first time in three years and six months.

 

 Abe: Cooperation among the three countries has been restored completely. This is a major achievement. I would like to continue to improve relations (with China and the ROK) through candid exchange of views.

 

 South China Sea issue

 

 Inada: China continues to build artificial islands.

 

 Abe: I will appeal strongly for the importance of the rule of law at the international conferences and bilateral summits (later this month).

 

 600 trillion yen GDP

 

 Inada: What are the concrete policies for realizing this goal?

 

 Abe: We will provide more opportunities to women and the elderly through labor reform and work vigorously on regional revitalization. We would like to achieve these goals by employing all possible policy options.

 

 Noritoshi Ishida (Komeito)

 

 TPP

 

 Ishida: What do you think of the results of the TPP talks?

 

 Abe: Backed by the Diet resolution, we negotiated hard with various nations on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries products. While other countries will be abolishing 98.5% of tariff on these products, Japan will only be doing so for 81%, obtaining exemption from tariff elimination for around 20% of products. We were able to fulfill our promise when we decided to join the TPP talks.

 

 Katsuya Okada (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ])

 

 Constitutional revision

 

 Okada: Do you intend to submit proposals for constitutional revision, including amendment of Article 9, to the Diet in order to authorize unrestricted exercise of the right to collective self-defense?

 

 Abe: At this point, the important thing is to deepen the national debate.

 

 Statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II

 

 Okada: You issued a statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

 

 Abe: We must not make the generations that have nothing to do with the war apologize indeterminately. We have the responsibility to face the past humbly and hand history down to future generations.

 

 Yuichiro Tamaki (DPJ)

 

 TPP

 

 Tamaki: You need to look into the self-sufficiency rate for food before adopting TPP measures.

 

 Abe: We are currently doing a comprehensive analysis of the economic effects. A clear explanation will be provided to the people before the end of this year.

 

 Reconstruction Minister Tsuyoshi Takagi’s issue

 

 Tamaki: Did a company involved with the fast breeder Monju project buy fund raising party tickets from you?

 

 Takagi: It is true that this company bought tickets as one of the companies in my constituency. This has nothing to do with my political principles or my duties as reconstruction minister.

 

 Michiyoshi Yunoki (DPJ)

 

 Takagi issue

 

 Yunoki: The LDP chapter that you chair and your political fund management organization indicated in their accounting reports that monetary offerings for funerals were made in your constituency. Don’t you think this requires an apology?

 

 Takagi: I went to the funerals and made the obituary gifts out of my own pocket. The bookkeepers made a mistake in recording them as expenditures of the political organizations. I will be very careful in conducting political activities from now on and make sure that this will never happen again.

 

 Yunoki: Do you plan to replace Mr. Takagi?

 

 Abe: The important thing is for him to fulfill his responsibility to give an explanation.

 

 Yunoki: A weekly tabloid reported that you were once caught stealing women’s underwear. Is that true?

 

 Takagi: That is not true.

 

 Kazunori Yamai (DPJ)

 

 Extraordinary Diet session

 

 Yamai: An extraordinary Diet session should be convened.

 

 Abe: The cabinet has the prerogative in scheduling Diet sessions. We are considering (what to do) taking into account the diplomatic schedule and the budget formulation process with the spirit of the Constitution in mind.

 

 Yamai: Are you hiding something? Why are you being evasive?

 

 Abe: If we were evading, we would not have extended the regular Diet session for the longest period in postwar history.

 

 Seiji Maehara (DPJ)

 

 Consumption tax increase

 

 Maehara: Will you raise the consumption tax rate to 10% by April 2017?

 

 Abe: Unless it is judged that the damage will be comparable to the Lehman Shock, we basically plan to go ahead with the increase.

 

 Yorihisa Matsuno (Japan Innovation Party [JIP])

 

 TPP

 

 Matsuno: Will budget allocations be made like after the Uruguay Round agreement of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)?

 

 Abe: It is true that there are criticisms that many projects that were unrelated to improving agricultural productivity or making agriculture a growth industry had been implemented in the past. We will compile really necessary measures in order not to be criticized for pork barrel spending.

 

 Matsuno: What will be the size of the budget allocations?

 

 Abe: It is necessary to analyze the impact on each agricultural product first. We don’t want to make assumptions by setting an amount now.

 

 Masato Imai (JIP)

 

 BPO’s criticism of the LDP

 

 Imai: The Broadcast Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO) criticized the LDP’s questioning of senior NHK officials as a form of pressure. The LDP should take to heart the BPO’s comment that the LDP is wrong in its disposition.

 

 Abe: The Diet members are responsible for approving the NHK’s budget, so it is quite natural to discuss if NHK is distorting the facts. I don’t see any problem in this. The BPO is not a legal entity. It is a matter of course that the ministry in charge should respond in accordance with law.

 

 Nobuhiko Isaka (JIP)

 

 U.S. bases in Okinawa

 

 Isaka: Okinawa bears the bulk of the base-hosting burden. Is it not possible for the mainland to take over [some of the burden]?

 

 Abe: It is necessary for the whole country to share the burden. We will take proper steps to reduce the burden.

 

 Seiken Akamine (Japanese Communist Party)

 

 Futenma relocation

 

 Akamine: The government has suspended the effectivity of Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s cancellation of the landfill permit for waters off Henoko in Nago City for its own convenience, in order to resume construction work at an early date.

 

 Abe: The governor’s cancellation of the permit was illegal and this act compromises public interest seriously. We decided that undertaking the substitute execution procedure to pave the way for obtaining a judicial decision eventually is the appropriate course of action. (Slightly abridged)

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