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POLITICS

Gist of Upper House Budget Committee meeting, Nov. 11

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

(Tokyo Shimbun: November 12, 2015 – p. 6)

 

 Following is the gist of deliberations at the House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on Nov. 11, held while the Diet was in recess:

Eriko Yamatani (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP])

 

 Constitutional revision

 

 Yamatani: Don’t you think there needs to be constitutional provisions on national emergencies, in order to respond to disasters and protect the people’s life and property?

 

 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Constitutional provisions on the role of the state and the people in protecting the people’s safety are an extremely important issue. The people’s understanding is indispensable for constitutional revision. Concrete provisions will take shape in due course through a national debate based on the people’s understanding.

 

 Abduction issue

 

 Yamatani: How determined are you to resolve this issue?

 

 Abe: The repatriation of the victims has not been realized more than a year after the start of reinvestigation. This is truly regrettable. We will work for a solution by making North Korea realize that unless this issue is resolved, it cannot hope to have a vision of its future.

 

 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

 

 Yamatani: An enormous trade zone will be formed.

 

 Abe: Other countries can also join later if they are committed to following the rules. Many countries have shown an interest in participating since the basic agreement was reached.

 

 Takeyuki Watanabe (LDP)

 

 Relations with China, the ROK

 

 Watanabe: What was accomplished at the Japan-ROK and the Japan-China summits?

 

 Abe: Japan had consistently asserted that no preconditions should be set for summit meetings and we succeeded in holding these meetings. I was able to have a candid discussion with ROK President Park Geun-hye. I also agreed with China on the possibility of realizing various potentials through cooperation in the economic field.

 

 TPP

 

 Watanabe: Agriculture in the semi-mountainous areas should be protected.

 

 Abe: We will be supportive in dealing with farmers’ concerns. We will compile and implement all possible measures and persist in efforts to increase farmers’ income.

 

 Eri Tokunaga (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ])

 

 TPP

 

 Tokunaga: Participation in the TPP will not benefit the people but will result in many causes for concern.

 

 Abe: Our basic stance is that a beautiful countryside and agriculture forms the foundation of this country, which needs to be safeguarded.

 

 Tokunaga: Will ratification procedures be taken at the regular Diet session next year?

 

 Abe: There are still some legal and technical issues. It may be necessary to hold a meeting of the national leaders. The schedule is currently being considered.

 

 Toshio Ogawa (DPJ)

 

 Extraordinary Diet session

 

 Ogawa: Please convene an extraordinary Diet session.

 

 Abe: The Constitution has no provisions on scheduling a Diet session. We are studying various options.

 

 Reconstruction Minister Tsuyoshi Takagi’s issue

 

 Ogawa: The LDP chapter you chair and your political fund management organization paid out monetary offerings for funerals in your constituency.

 

 Takagi: It is true that I attended the funerals and made the obituary gifts out of my own pocket.

 

 Ogawa: A weekly tabloid reported that you stole women’s underwear.

 

 Takagi: That is not true. I am thinking of consulting with lawyers on demanding a correction from the publishing company or suing them for libel. My responsibility is to make every effort to perform the duties of the reconstruction minister in order to accelerate the reconstruction process. I would like to work very hard for this.

 

 Tomoko Kami (Japanese Communist Party)

 

 TPP

 

 Kami: Can food safety be ensured?

 

 Abe: The TPP agreement is expected to promote the export of food products. On the other hand, it is important to maintain safety and trust in food products. Inspections will be undertaken properly.

 

 Yoshiyuki Inoue (Assembly to Energize Japan)

 

 TPP

 

 Inoue: How would you protect part-time and small scale farmers from the effects of the TPP accord?

 

 Abe: It goes without saying that small scale farming means higher production cost. Our basic policy is to increase the scale.

 

 Toranasuke Katayama (Osaka Ishin no Kai)

 

 South China Sea issue

 

 Katayama: The U.S. has started its Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea. What is Japan’s position on this?

 

 Abe: We support the U.S. action because this is in accordance with international law and the U.S. is exercising leadership in the international community. We will continue to promote joint bilateral or multinational military exercises. We have no specific plans for the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to participate in surveillance and reconnaissance operations. We would like to consider the issues thoroughly, keeping in mind the various options.

 

 Futenma relocation

 

 Katayama: The government should persist in patient dialogue with Okinawa on the Futenma issue.

 

 Abe: Inaction on the situation in Futenma is tantamount to abandoning political responsibility. We will persist in patient discussions.

 

 Michitaro Watanabe (independent)

 

 SDF operations

 

 Watanabe: The SDF will bear additional burden as a result of overseas deployment under the policy of proactive pacifism.

 

 Abe: We are working on the expansion and reinforcement of the SDF in light of the increasingly harsh security environment.

 

 Mizuho Fukushima (Social Democratic Party)

 

 Fast breeder Monju

 

 Fukushima: The Nuclear Regulation Authority has recommended a change in the operator of the fast breeder Monju. Shouldn’t you simply decommission it?

 

 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hiroshi Hase: We take the recommendation seriously. I would like to exercise leadership to make sure that this issue is resolved as soon as possible. (Slightly abridged)

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