The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Jan. 29, 2018.
Konosuke Kokuba (Liberal Democratic Party): The people of Okinawa have been deeply hurt (by a remark made by Fumiaki Matsumoto as Cabinet Office state minister).
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Politicians should speak responsibly and practice self-discipline in order to gain trust. The cabinet will address various policy challenges by improving discipline.
Hiroshi Kawauchi (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): The remark constitutes verbal abuse against the people of Okinawa.
Abe: I am responsible for appointing him. I would like to offer my deepest apologies.
Kokuba: How will you reduce Okinawa’s base-hosting burden?
Abe: We will make utmost efforts. We hope to achieve results in the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, which is considered to be the world’s most dangerous base.
Kokuba: Accidents involving U.S. military aircraft are occurring due to structural factors.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera: (Regarding the recent forced landing by a U.S. military helicopter,) I was told that the U.S. had checked all of its helicopters of the same type before flying them again. I will not accept this at face value. I will verify it for confirmation by taking advantage of the Self-Defense Force’s specialized and technical knowledge.
Kawauchi: Akie Abe, the prime minister’s wife, took the post of honorary principal of the elementary school that was being built by Moritomo Gakuen.
Abe: It was inevitable that this would arouse suspicion among the public. (The Asahi Shimbun’s report in May last year that said Moritomo Gakuen submitted a prospectus for building “Abe Shinzo Memorial Elementary School” to the Ministry of Finance) was a complete lie. I was asked whether it was the result of sontaku [the pre-emptive, placatory following of an order that has not been given] (at a Diet session), but it was not.
Akira Nagatsuma (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): The appointment of Nobuhisa Sagawa as National Tax Agency Commissioner will erode public confidence in taxation. He should resign.
Finance Minister Taro Aso: Sagawa is conducting his duties appropriately. I want him to continue fulfilling his responsibilities. He has experience in the taxation area, having served as the deputy commissioner of the National Tax Agency and the chief of the Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau.
Yuichi Goto (Party of Hope): U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed his intention to return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
Abe: I would like to welcome this. At the same time, the 11 signatories have reached an agreement. The agreement is like a delicate piece of glass artwork and I think it is optimal. Changing the agreement would be extremely difficult.
Kensuke Onishi (Party of Hope): Expanding the discretionary labor system to include certain sales positions runs counter to rectifying excessive working hours and will allow employers to force their employees to work as long as they want.
Abe: We are taking the requests of the Rengo [Japanese Trade Union Confederation] president seriously and have decided to specify the types of operations that will be included. This will dispel the concerns.
Distribution of incense sticks
Seiji Osaka (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): There are some reports that incense sticks were distributed in a constituency.
Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi: I distributed them as part of the political activities of a local party chapter. My name wasn’t on them.
Osaka: So your understanding is that “goods can be distributed free of charge if there’s no name on them.”
Motegi: I understand that the provision of the Public Office Election Law says so.
Measures against global warming
Teru Fukui (Liberal Democratic Party): Promptly drawing up a long-term strategy is absolutely necessary for realizing a low-carbon society.
Abe: I will promote both economic growth and measures against climate change by utilizing our country’s environmental technology.
Noriko Horiuchi (Liberal Democratic Party): How will the government encourage men to take paternity leave?
Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato: We will give awards to companies that make outstanding efforts. The active participation of men in child-rearing will allow women to continue to work.
Problems caused by heavy snow
Kazuyoshi Akaba (Komeito): The closure of highways after heavy snowfall significantly disrupted the functions of logistics networks.
Abe: It’s important to ensure that they can function properly both in normal and emergency situations.