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Gist of interpellations at Upper House Budget Committee, March 27, 2017

The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on March 27, 2017:

 

Intensive session

 

Moritomo Gakuen issue

 

Mitsuru Sakurai (Democratic Party [DP]): Did a government official who is an assistant to Mrs. Akie Abe make an inquiry with the Finance Ministry on the government-owned land?

 

Finance Ministry Financial Bureau Director General Nobuhisa Sagawa: Yes. It was a general inquiry about the system.

 

Sakurai: It is really unfair to put the blame on this official. She needs to have a chance to explain.

 

Yuko Mori (Liberal Party [LP]): Mrs. Abe is also involved in the Moritomo issue. She should testify as a sworn witness.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: That is not necessary.

 

Mori: How much money was loaned to Moritomo Gakuen at one time?

 

Civil Aviation Bureau Director General Yoshinobu Sato, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism: Before a formal lease contract was signed for the government-owned land, a loan of 444 yen was made in October 2014 for the purpose of exploratory drilling. An official made a mistake in the calculations. The correct amount was 4,444 yen. The Osaka Civil Aviation Bureau collected the balance from the Moritomo Gakuen on March 7.

 

Toshiko Takeya (Komeito): The Central Japan Railway Company denied what Mr. Yasunori Kagoike stated in his sworn testimony on March 23. It is regrettable that he made unreliable statements as a sworn witness.

 

Kake Gakuen

 

Sakurai: The Prime Minister has dined and played golf with the president of Kake Gakuen many times. There is suspicion that such a relationship had something to do with interests relating to the founding of the new faculty of veterinary medicine at the Okayama University of Science operated by Kake Gakuen.

 

Abe: My relationship with the president has nothing to do with this. Something is wrong with the government office if this was taken into consideration in granting the permit.

 

Crime of conspiracy

 

Sohei Nihi (Japanese Communist Party): An official cable shows that in the negotiations on the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, Japan, along with the U.S., the UK, Germany, and others, was against including terrorism in the crimes covered by this treaty.

 

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: A conclusion still has not been reached on the definition of terrorism. Japan and the other countries were opposed to including terrorism in the list to prevent this from getting mired in the debate on the definition.

 

Nihi: The government has never given such an explanation. This is an irresponsible modus operandi to deceive the people by using the phrase, “crime of preparation for terrorist acts.”

 

Abe: While the treaty has no provisions directly referring to terrorism, if terrorist organizations qualify as organized crime groups, the treaty will cover terrorist acts.

 

Concluding interpellations

 

Moritomo Gakuen issue

 

Taro Yamamoto (LP): It is unconceivable that Ms. Saeko Tani, an assistant to Mrs. Abe, would have corresponded with the Finance Ministry in disregard of her wishes.

 

Abe: We are not saying that Ms. Tani acted of her own accord. She probably acted in the belief that she was doing what should have been done.

 

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada

 

Haku Shinkun (DP): Minister Inada withdrew her statements made in the Diet on Moritomo Gakuen and there was also the issue of the daily activity logs of the troops engaged in UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) in South Sudan. She is not trustworthy. She should resign.

 

Abe: I would like her to continue to perform her duties.

 

Inada: I will make sure to give honest responses and fulfill my responsibilities. (Slightly abridged)

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