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Gist of Upper House representative interpellations, Nov. 22, 2017

The following is the gist of representative interpellations at the House of Councillors plenary session on Nov. 22, 2017:

 

Questions

 

Toranosuke Katayama (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party])

 

It is necessary to further reinforce nuclear and missile defense systems in light of the growing North Korean threat. Will you stop keeping the defense budget below 1% of GDP?

 

Hiroyuki Nagahama (Democratic Party)

 

There is insufficient evidence that Kake Gakuen met all four conditions for opening a new veterinary school. If you are claiming that administrative procedures were not biased in favor of Kake Gakuen, all the minutes of the meetings of the Council on National Strategic Special Zones (NSSZ) and other bodies should be disclosed.

 

Naoki Okada (Liberal Democratic Party)

 

While President Donald Trump’s meeting with the families of the victims of North Korea’s abductions was a consolation, these families are woefully crying out for help. Rescuing the abductees is the government’s responsibility.

 

It is necessary to discuss quick and effective measures to deal with North Korea’s missiles at an unprecedented level. Do you have plans to start concrete discussions on acquiring “enemy base attack capability”?

 

It is necessary to reinforce multiple interception systems, including the deployment of Aegis ship-based SM-3s, ahead of schedule.

 

Yoshiki Yamashita (Japanese Communist Party)

 

It is impermissible to evade serious suspicions of using national administration for personal purposes. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should take responsibility for investigating the facts. It is necessary to summon Mrs. Akie Abe and Kake Gakuen President Kotaro Kake to the Diet regarding the generous discount given to Moritomo Gakuen in the sale of government-owned land and the approval of Kake Gakuen’s plans for the NSSZ, respectively.

 

Adding a provision on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Article 9 of the Constitution would render Paragraph 2’s provision on not possessing war potential meaningless and open the way for unrestrained deployment of forces overseas. Isn’t this your goal? This is absolutely unacceptable.

 

While North Korea’s nuclear and missile development is absolutely impermissible, a war that would result in devastation must absolutely not be waged. Direct dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea is necessary to resolve the crisis and avoid war. The Japanese government should play an active role in realizing this.

 

Responses by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

 

Moritomo Gakuen, Kake Gakuen issues

 

Exchanges between the parties involved regarding the sale of government-owned land (to Moritomo Gakuen) will be disclosed by the investigation and judicial authorities. It is understandable that there would be suspicions partly because my wife (Akie) once served as its honorary principal. I have offered thorough explanations repeatedly, including during the off-session Diet meetings. (With regard to the Kake Gakuen issue), a private sector member of the Council on NSSZs said that there was nothing questionable in the selection process. It is up to the Diet to decide (whether to summon Akie Abe and the president of Kake Gakuen). (in response to Yamashita)

 

(Administrative procedures in the Kake Gakuen case) were conducted legally and openly. The relevant cabinet ministers did not have any objections. The application was confirmed to have met the four conditions and detailed minutes of meetings were released. The off-session Diet meetings showed that no one said they had received any instructions from me on the new veterinary school. (in response to Nagahama)

 

North Korea

 

North Korea is the one refusing to take steps toward denuclearization. No one in the world, including myself, wants conflict. In order to make North Korea change its policies, it is necessary to apply maximum pressure with all available means to create a situation in which it will seek to hold dialogue. (in response to Yamashita)

 

Japan relies on the U.S. for enemy base attack capability. I have no plans to change the division of labor between Japan and the U.S. I have a responsibility to study various options amid the increasingly harsh security environment. We are in the process of increasing the number of Aegis ships from four to eight. We will advance the schedule as much as possible. We will strive for a drastic reinforcement of defense capabilities through the deployment of Aegis Ashore and other measures.

 

Our mission will not end until the families of all the abduction victims can embrace them again. We will leverage the international community’s pressure to compel North Korea to make a decision to resolve the abduction issue at an early date. (in response to Okada)

 

Revision of Article 9

 

Lasting peace is the Japanese people’s dream. The provisions of Article 9 give concrete expression to pacifism. An explicit provision on the SDF will not change its mission or powers. Your claim is off the mark. (in response to Yamashita)

 

Defense budget

 

I have a responsibility to constantly think about what needs to be done to protect the people’s lives and peaceful existence based on reality. There is no rule that the defense budget needs to be kept below 1% of GDP, and it is inappropriate to link this automatically to a certain ratio of GDP. (in response to Katayama)

 

(Abridged)

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