(Yomiuri: January 13, 2016 – p. 8)
Following is the gist of basic interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Jan. 12:
Rintaro Ogata (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ]): How will North Korea’s nuclear test impact this issue?
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: (This nuclear test) poses a serious threat to Japan’s security. In light of such a grave act of provocation, things will not be the same from now on. On the other hand, we will not be the ones to close off the channels for dialogue for a solution to the abduction issue. While imposing sanctions on the DPRK, we will make every effort to work for a solution to the abduction issue under the principle of “dialogue and pressure.”
Ogata: Mr. Toru Hasuike, who was secretary general of the association of families of the abduction victims, has published a book. He wrote that you are the typical example of people using the abduction issue for political purposes.
Abe: I have not read the book. I have no intention to comment on it.
Ogata: Mr. Hasuike wrote that you did not try to stop the abduction victims from returning to North Korea even once.
Abe: At that time, the abductees were about to be returned to North Korea. I opposed this firmly.
Ogata: Are you a man who built his career using the abduction issue?
Abe: I am not even going to argue with you. By asking such questions, what you are doing is using this issue for political purposes. I have worked up to this date in the belief that it is the political authorities’ responsibility to repatriate the abductees.
Ogata: Are you saying Mr. Hasuike is lying?
Abe: I don’t want to say somebody is lying. What I am saying is the truth. If what I said is not true, I will resign as a member of the Diet.
North Korea’s nuclear test
Akira Kasai (Japanese Communist Party): The Six Party Talks is the only appropriate framework for dialogue with North Korea.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: The Six Party Talks framework is important for prodding North Korea to make a constructive response. We need to create an environment conducive to the DPRK’s participation. A meeting of the chief negotiators of Japan, the U.S., and the ROK for the Six Party Talks will be held in Seoul on Jan. 13.
Comfort women accord
Ogata: The announcement on the agreement between the Japanese and ROK governments on the comfort women issue said that “Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse.” Shouldn’t you be saying that in your own words?
Abe: I conveyed my sentiment to President Park Geun-hye. The issue has now been resolved. If I have to answer this question again and again, then it will not be a final resolution.
Ogata: Will the comfort women statue (in front of the Japanese Embassy) be moved?
Abe: The recent agreement represents a final and irreversible resolution of the comfort women issue. Under this agreement, it is our understanding that the ROK government will deal with this in an appropriate manner.
Ogata: Is there some other way to handle this besides moving the statue?
Abe: It is our understanding that an appropriate response means moving the statue.
Kensuke Onishi (DPJ): Will you proceed with the relocation of the Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City, as planned even if Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Aiko Shimajiri loses in the House of Councillors election (this summer)?
Abe: Matters pertaining to security are decided by the national government and not by an election in a certain locality.
Mikio Shimoji (Initiatives from Osaka [Osaka Ishin no Kai]): Our party would like to revise the constitution to introduce administrative reforms to realize decentralization of power. We are very interested in whether you will directly seek the judgment of the people on constitutional revision in the Upper House election.
Abe: The Liberal Democratic Party has been advocating constitutional revision since the time of its founding. We drew up a draft constitution under President Sadakazu Tanigaki. We will naturally include this in our vision of government in the upcoming election. (Abridged)