During Diet sessions of the Lower House Committee on Budget, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, rather than cabinet ministers in charge of the issues, answered questions from opposition parties. This seemed to suggest that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lacks talented politicians who can succeed Abe.
At a meeting of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Budget held on Oct 4, instead of Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Abe answered Democratic Party member Akihiro Hatsushika’s questions on the review of the nursing-case insurance system. The minister did not attend the session, because Hatsushika did not request his presence. Despite the absence of the relevant minister, Abe argued for the review by presenting data and even pointed out factual errors in Hatsushika’s questions.
As for the pension system, Abe held a heated discussion with Democratic Party member Nobuhiko Isaka, saying, “There is unfairness between generations, and we will revise the system to secure pension payments for future generations.”
Abe also answered questions from Democratic Party member Nobuyuki Fukushima regarding the issue of the lack of clarity in the trade of imported rice, which could become an obstacle to the Diet’s approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Abe assured him that “the TPP will have no impact on domestic rice as the government will buy up rice produced in Japan.”
Some ministers in charge of issues questioned at Diet sessions seemed unreliable. For example, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida oferred differing answers time and again concerning Japan-Russia negotiations over the Northern Territories held on Oct. 3. Under the circumstances, Abe took over by saying, “The government will resolve the issue of sovereignty over the four islands and conclude a peace treaty with Russia.” Defense Minister Tomomi Inada was also inarticulate when questioned about the inconsistency of her past remarks about the Senkaku Islands and the USFJ. Abe lent a helping hand, saying, “Inada is consistent in maintaining her view that both issues are important.” Through these answers, Abe apparently demonstrated a political capacity superior to ministers considered his potential successors. (Abridged)