Following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Oct. 12.
Chizuko Takahashi (Japanese Communist Party): If the Ground Self-Defense Force contingent sent to South Sudan for UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) is given the new duty of “rushing-to-the-rescue,” they will be exposed to increased risk.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: All missions come with risks. An increase in duties does not necessarily mean increased risk.
Acceptance of foreign workers
Yasutoshi Nishimura (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP]): There is an acute labor shortage in agriculture and the Cool Japan sectors. It is necessary to create National Strategic Special Zones (NSSZ) for accepting foreign workers.
Abe: One major remaining issue with regard to the NSSZs is the intake of foreign workers. I would like to speed up deliberations with an eye to submiting legal amendments to the next Diet session.
Toshihide Muraoka (Democratic Party [DP]): The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has questioned dealers on dubious transactions in the bidding process for imported rice.
Abe: I have not read the investigation report itself but I have been briefed by MAFF. There is no impact in relation to the TPP agreement.
Rintaro Ogata (DP): Will you release the memos on the investigation?
MAFF Minister Yuji Yamamoto: The memos contain personal or corporate information, so we will not be able to make them public.
Ogata: The Cabinet Office has released documents on the results of negotiations between Akira Amari (former TPP minister) and USTR Michael Froman that were full of blacked-out passages. What the agriculture minister is doing is even worse.
LDP constitutional revision proposals
Shiori Yamao (DP): The Prime Minister is saying in the current Diet session that he is not in a position to answer questions on the LDP’s draft proposals for constitutional amendment, but he has done so in the past.
Abe: I have no obligation to answer questions as the government’s representative. I did comment on the draft proposals (in the past), but I have decided that now that constitutional revision has become a real possibility and the Commissions on the Constitution of both houses of the Diet will be discussing this issue, it is better for me to refrain from making statements as the LDP president. (Abridged)