(Tokyo Shimbun: February 20, 2016 – p. 6)
Following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 19:
Lower House election system reform
Norihisa Tamura (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP]): How will you reduce Lower House seats?
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: A total of 10 seats will be reduced by rezoning based on the results of the 2015 (simplified) census to be released shortly. We will not put off seat reduction to 2020.
Yoshihiko Noda (Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ]): The Lower House speaker’s advisory panel recommended the reduction of 10 seats. What will you do about this?
Abe: I am responsible for this as the leader of the number one party. I will build consensus along this line as the party president.
LDP Diet members’ gaffes
Chinami Nishimura (DPJ): House of Councillors member Kazuya Maruyama said that U.S. President Obama is a black descendant of slaves.
Abe: It goes without saying that it is unacceptable to make statements violating human rights. When [Diet members] speak they should bear in mind that their statements carry weight.
Nishimura: The series of gaffes by LDP members elected for the first time in the 2012 Lower House election is a sign of the ruling party’s conceit.
Abe: They must not forget that they were elected by the people. I hope they will raise their awareness.
Takeshi Shina (DPJ): Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa, who said the government’s decontamination goal for the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant “has no scientific grounds,” is unworthy of her position.
Abe: All cabinet ministers must possess the awareness of a reconstruction minister when performing their duties. (Abridged)