The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Feb. 28:
Moritomo Gakuen issue
Toshio Ogawa (Democratic Party [DP]): You stated at the House of Representatives Budget Committee that you approve of the educational policies of the Moritomo Gakuen.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: My wife told me that they offer spirited education. I approve of their strict discipline.
Ogawa: Have you met Moritomo Gakuen administrator Yasunori Kagoike?
Abe: I have never met with him one-on-one or in a small group. I have no personal relations with him whatsoever.
Katsuya Ogawa (DP): The Gakuen used your name and your wife’s photo. Don’t you feel any responsibility for this?
Abe: Neither my wife nor I were involved in the land sale or solicitation of donations. Since I rejected the name “Shinzo Abe Memorial Elementary School,” there is no way I can take responsibility.
Yasue Funayama (independent): The accounting report for 2015 of the PTA of the kindergarten operated by the Gakuen shows that payment was made to Akie Abe as “social education expense.”
Abe: I don’t understand what that is supposed to mean. My wife has not received any speaker’s fee or remuneration.
Funayama: This kindergarten adopts extreme educational principles. The national government should do something.
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirokazu Matsuno: We realize that this is a case on which we need to exchange information with the Osaka prefectural government (which has jurisdiction). Parents have also sent their opinions to the prefectural government. I have received reports that the prefectural government is questioning the kindergarten.
Northern Territories issue
Katsuya Ogawa: Are you determined to negotiate with Russia on the Northern Territories?
Abe: We hope that with progress in joint economic activities with Russia in the Northern Territories, the Russian islanders will have a greater understanding of the change of sovereignty over the four islands to Japan. (Abridged)