The following is the gist of representative interpellations at the House of Representatives plenary session on Nov. 20, 2017:
Yukio Edano (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan)
The exercise of the right to collective self-defense is unconstitutional. It is impossible to engage in a proper constitutional debate without addressing this situation that violates constitutionalism. Adding a provision legitimizing the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) (to Article 9) in this situation will result in a serious deviation from the strictly defensive security policy. We intend to persevere in calling attention to this attempt at harmful revision of the constitution.
We will actively promote constitutional debate on appropriate restrictions to power based on the principles of constitutionalism. The issues that need to be discussed right now are restrictions to the power to dissolve [the Lower House] and the expansion of the right to know.
We ask that the government continue to deal firmly with the North Korean abduction, nuclear, and missile issues. The evacuation of Japanese nationals in South Korea in the event of a contingency is a serious responsibility of the Japanese government.
Fumio Kishida (Liberal Democratic Party)
It is said that our recent victory in the Lower House election was the result of “the opposition’s disarray.” We must not become conceited over the election results in conducting politics.
It is very important to continue to offer thorough explanations on the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen issues as long as there are doubts among the people.
China holds the key in applying stronger pressure on North Korea. It is an unprecedented development in recent years that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in the span of a few days.
Constitutional revision must not be undertaken for the sake of constitutional revision. We must engage in thorough discussions on the provision on the SDF and three other issues both inside and outside the party and aim for constitutional revision after holding a referendum. Conducting open and thorough discussions will give momentum to constitutional revision.
Yuichiro Tamaki (Party of Hope)
With regard to constitutional revision, there needs to be a broad-ranging debate on the people’s right to know, the basic principles of local autonomy, restrictions on the power to dissolve the Lower House, and other issues. However, we are baffled by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sudden proposal on a provision in Article 9 on the SDF. We will take the lead in ensuring proper constitutional debate based on the principles of constitutionalism.
We will aim at submitting proposed amendments to the security laws. In light of Japan’s limited national power, personnel, and equipment, it is not in its national interest to meet all the U.S.’s demands. We will also consider legislation to reinforce the policing of remote islands and missile defense.
Responses by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Constitutional revision is achieved by the submission of motions to the Diet and the final decision is made by the people through a referendum. It is very important for constructive deliberations to take place in the Diet to deepen the people’s understanding. (in response to Kishida)
Moritomo Gakuen, Kake Gakuen
I have given thorough explanations to the Diet repeatedly, including attending off-session Diet committee meetings. There were also many questions asked in the discussions during the Lower House election and I gave thorough explanations then as well. My thinking on this matter will remain unchanged. Taking advantage of the National Strategic Special Zones (NSSZ) forms the very foundation of the reform of bedrock regulations. (in response to Kishida)
A strictly defensive policy is Japan’s basic defense policy. It goes without saying that we will continue to uphold this policy. We will face the harsh security environment squarely and tackle difficult issues head-on. (in response to Edano)
Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless. In order to make North Korea change its policies, all possible means must be employed to apply maximum pressure on it to create a situation where it will seek dialogue. The abduction issue is the Abe administration’s top priority. I will take the lead in pressuring [North Korea] to make a decision on this issue at an early date by leveraging the international community’s pressure. (in response to Kishida)
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship. This will be a good opportunity for the steady development of an amicable cooperative relationship based on the concept of a mutually beneficial strategic relationship. We will strive to hold the Japan-China-ROK summit at an early date and realize Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Japan. This will be followed by my visit to China, and we also hope for President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan. (in response to Kishida)
Japan will serve as the standard bearer in initiating efforts to expand an economic sphere based on high-quality free and open 21st century rules. The government will take measures to strengthen agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, including through the formulation of a FY17 supplementary budget. It will exert utmost efforts to build strong agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. (in response to Kishida)
U.S. military helicopter crash
During President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan, I told him “it is important to address the local community’s concerns in good faith.” We will continue to ask the U.S. side to give maximum consideration to safety and minimize impact on the local residents. (in response to Kishida)