The following is the gist of representative interpellations at the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives on Nov. 21, 2017:
Questions in the Upper House
Kohei Otsuka (Democratic Party)
North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile launches are a threat to Japan’s security and to peace in the Far East. We ask for disclosure of as much information as possible.
Our position is that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is constitutional whether or not there is an explicit provision in the Constitution. How will adding a provision on the already constitutional SDF change the SDF’s existence and actions?
Questions in the Lower House
Katsuya Okada (Independents Club)
North Korea is the most serious security issue. It is obvious that a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula would cause tremendous casualties. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should persuade President Donald Trump to rule out preemptive military action as an option.
Kazuo Shii (Japanese Communist Party)
The Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen issues are a serious matter of suspected distortion of administrative processes that are supposed to be fair and impartial by powerholders and taking advantage of national administration for personal purposes. These issues must absolutely be clarified. It is necessary to summon Mrs. Akie Abe, who was an honorary principal of the elementary school Moritomo Gakuen was planning to open, and Kake Gakuen President Kotaro Kake, who is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “close friend,” to the Diet for the purpose of fact finding.
The government has begun new embankment work for the relocation of the Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa) to Henoko, Nago City. This is an outrageous act that disregards the popular will in Okinawa.
The Prime Minister’s proposal to add an explicit provision on the SDF in Article 9 of the Constitution will make possible the overseas deployment of forces and the full invocation of the right to collective self-defense. There will be no restrictions to the use of force overseas. We are absolutely opposed to the harmful revision of the Constitution.
Nobuyuki Baba (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party])
The San Francisco city council has passed a resolution on accepting the donation of a statue of young girls (symbolizing the issue of comfort women serving the Japanese Imperial Army). This is a diplomatic issue that the Japanese government needs to resolve.
Responses by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
I believe it is the responsibility of our generation to eliminate any room for questioning the constitutionality of the SDF. I am making it clear that an explicit constitutional provision will not change the mission or powers of the SDF. (in response to Otsuka)
North Korea is working on extending the range of its missiles, creating an unprecedentedly serious and imminent threat. It is believed that it possesses hundreds of Rodong missiles capable of attacking Japan. Cooperation between Japan and the U.S. is indispensable for dealing with this threat. (in response to Otsuka)
My most important mission is to protect the people’s lives and peaceful living to the end. In order to make North Korea change its policies, it is necessary for Japan and the U.S. to cooperate in employing all possible means to apply maximum pressure to create a situation in which North Korea will seek to engage in dialogue. (in response to Okada)
It is understandable for the people to be suspicious, partly because my wife once served as the honorary principal (of the elementary school Moritomo Gakuen intended to open). I have offered thorough explanations in the Diet repeatedly and my thinking on this matter will remain unchanged. It is up to the Diet to decide on how to conduct its deliberations (including the summoning of witnesses). (in response to Shii)
I have never issued any concrete instructions (in the government) or lobbied for the plan to open a new veterinary school. The approval process took place appropriately, with the concerned ministers being consulted on whether they had any objections at each turn, thus obtaining their consent. (in response to Shii)
Comfort women issue
The donation of the statue of young girls to the city of San Francisco runs counter to Japan’s position. This is truly regrettable. (in response to Baba)
Futenma Air Station
The permanent presence of the Futenma base must be prevented by all means. We will make every effort to realize the early return of this base. (in response to Shii)