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Gist of representative interpellations at Lower House plenary session, Jan. 24

The following is the gist of representative interpellations at the House of Representatives plenary session on Jan. 24:

 

Questions

 

Yukio Edano (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): There have been a series of accidents in Okinawa involving U.S. military helicopters. A helicopter part dropped on the playground of an elementary school in an incident that could have endangered children’s lives. You should strongly demand that the U.S. stop the flights of helicopters. You should at least suspend the plan to build a military base in Henoko, Nago City, and try to find ways to obtain the Okinawan people’s understanding.

 

A constitution lays out the rules by which a sovereign people restrict political power. Except in the case of a dictatorial state under one-party rule, the ideals of the state are modified progressively through the platforms and policies presented by political parties in elections.

 

Toshihiro Nikai (Liberal Democratic Party): Seventy years have passed since the constitution took effect. It is necessary to present the appropriate issues for discussion to the people in a process of constitutional revision. Full consideration needs to be given to the opinions of all parties for a more robust constitutional debate.

 

In his video message to a gathering last May, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his thoughts on the feelings of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) members, who who have been described as unconstitutional. We should enable the SDF members who devote their lives to the performance of their duties to have dignity, pride, and courage.

 

The Japan-China relationship is extremely important. The world is watching its development. While there were difficult times in the past, there is now a growing momentum for the improvement of relations. It is important to continue uninterrupted exchanges.

 

North Korea has conducted various ballistic missile launches and a total of six nuclear tests. It is rapidly improving its capabilities. This is a very serious situation. We should not tolerate its outrageous actions that intimidate the world.

 

Yuichiro Tamaki (Party of Hope): Japan’s possession of cruise missiles would amount to deviation from the strictly defensive security policy. This may also heighten tensions.

 

Prime Minister Abe’s proposal to retain Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9 of the Constitution and add a provision on the SDF would make permanent and clear the contradiction with Paragraph 2, which bans the maintenance of war potential and the right of belligerency.

 

Prime Minister Abe’s responses

 

Okinawa base issues

 

Why is it that Okinawa alone shoulders a tremendous base-hosting burden and faces threats to its safety even more than 70 years after the end of World War II? We can fully understand such sentiments of the Okinawan people and take to heart their feelings. Japan and the U.S. will work together on the top priority issue of ensuring the local residents’ safety. (in response to Edano)

 

Constitutional revision

 

It is irresponsible to tell the SDF members to stake their lives to help us when something happens even though they might be unconstitutional. It is the responsibility of our generation to leave no room for such arguments to be made. We are facing a historical turning point. It is time to discuss how we want to build this nation. (in response to Nikai)

 

By retaining Paragraph 2 of Article 9 and adding a provision on the existence of the SDF, there will be no change in the duties and powers of the SDF. (in response to Tamaki)

 

Japan-China relations

 

We hope that the modern version of the Silk Road that China is advocating, the Belt and Road economic sphere, will contribute to regional peace and prosperity by incorporating the common principles of the international community, such as openness and transparency. Japan would like to cooperate from this standpoint. (in response to Nikai)

 

Japan-ROK relations

 

If I am able to attend the PyeongChang Olympics opening ceremony, I would definitely like to meet with President Moon Jae-in to tell him directly that we must not waver in the policy of applying maximum pressure on North Korea. I will clearly convey Japan’s position on the agreement on the comfort women issue and ask the ROK to meet its commitments in good faith. (in response to Tamaki)

 

North Korea

 

In order to make North Korea abandon its nuclear programs, it is necessary to fully implement the UN Security Council resolutions and apply maximum pressure by all available means. We will protect the people’s lives and peaceful living to the end by maintaining a high level of vigilance through close cooperation between Japan and the U.S. We will also take all necessary measures for surveillance and patrolling of the adjacent sea areas, including a crackdown on illegal operations by North Korean fishing boats. (in response to Nikai)

 

Building defense capability

 

Long-range cruise missiles are meant to enable the SDF to respond from a distance beyond the range of the threat from the other party. They will defend our country effectively while ensuring the safety of SDF members. (in response to Tamaki)

 

(Abridged)

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