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Gist of interpellations at the Lower House Budget Committee, Feb. 10

  • 2016-02-12 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: February 11, 2016 –p. 6)

 

 Following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 10:

 

 Money scandal

 

 Toru Kunishige (Komeito Party): It is regrettable that “politics and money” scandals continue to occur.

 

 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: I truly apologize for the situation that led to a change in cabinet minister. We [politicians] must discipline ourselves so as not to undermine public trust and provide explanations as needed to meet the mandate of the people.

 

 Kunishige: Regulations need to be tightened.

 

 Abe: That would impose a heavy responsibility on representatives and have a significant impact on political activities. The issue should be discussed carefully.

 

 Keiji Kokuta (Japanese Communist Party [JCP]): Donations from businesses and groups, including for fund-raising parties, should be all banned.

 

 Abe: I think companies are making donations in the hope that the economy will improve. We certainly aren’t required to fulfill companies’ requests.

 

 Remarks by Environment Minster Tamayo Marukawa

 

 Goshi Hosono (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ]): You said that “decontamination standards were decided by the environment minister at the time without any scientific basis” to deal with the nuclear meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. What did you mean by that?

 

 Environment Minister Marukawa: If my remarks caused misunderstanding to people in Fukushima who are worried about the nuclear accident, I would like to apologize from the bottom of my heart. Some people are not sure of whether (the long-term goal of 1 millisievert) should be achieved only through decontamination or this is a benchmark to allow people return to their homes. I wanted to point out that there was a lack of communications with residents.

 

 Hosono: (Decontamination standards were set) to meet the strong demands of residents in Fukushima. Your comment was disrespectful of the people in Fukushima.

 

 Marukawa: I am not denying your efforts, Mr. Hosono, in setting the standards.

 

 Shinji Oguma (Vision of Reform [VOR]): I must urge the government to fight against groundless rumors.

 

 Abe: I strongly promote [the safety of Japanese produce] whenever I travel to countries that restrict imports of Japanese farm products.

 

 Remarks on suspension of use of radio waves

 

 Hiroshi Ogushi (DPJ): Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi referred to the possibility of the government blocking radio waves if a broadcaster repeatedly violates the law.

 

 Abe: Takaichi shared a conventional view on the Broadcast Act. Decisions are made not based on a single program but all of the programs offered by a broadcaster.

 

 Ogushi: You don’t deny the possibility of blocking radio waves, do you?

 

 Abe: Takaichi answered that (the suspension of radio waves) exists in law. The method of spreading the impression that [the government] will arbitrarily apply the law to unfavorable programs is similar to the one that (the security legislation) would allow military conscription.

 

 Reduction of 10 seats in the House of Representatives

 

 Masato Imai (Japan Innovation Party): Will the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) put it off until 2020?

 

 Abe: Our decision has been made based on a proposal submitted (by an expert panel). The unconstitutionally (over a vote disparity) must be redressed immediately. That does not affect the right to dissolve the Lower House for a next election.

 

 Remarks on Northern Territorial Issue

 

 Ogushi: You were unable to read the word ‘Habomai,’ weren’t you?

 

 Minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Aiko Shimajiri: I would like to apologize if I caused concern among people involved in the matter. I would like to work hard to fulfill my duties.

 

 Negative interest rate

 

 Hosono: That is causing turbulence in the market.

 

 Abe: We cannot turn backward. I trust Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

 

 Equal pay for the same job

 

 Chinami Nishimura (DPJ): Is the government planning to introduce law?

 

 Abe: Improving job conditions for non-regular workers can also help redress wage disparities based on gender. We will indicate a specific direction to consider necessary changes in the system.

 

 Survey on areas around U.S. bases

 

 Hodaka Maruyama (Initiatives from Osaka [IFO]): The government should investigate the buying and selling of land indispensable to national security.

 

 Abe: The Ministry of Defense is currently examining the ownership of land around defense facilities, including remote islands along the national border.

 

 Japan’s overseas assistance

 

 Toshiko Abe (LDP): It is necessary to seek the public’s understanding when we extend aid using taxpayers’ money.

 

 Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: We will do our best to execute budgets in an appropriate manner.

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