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Gist of interpellations at Lower House Budget Committee, Feb. 5

The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 5:

 

Constitutional revision

 

Yuichiro Tamaki (Party of Hope): The proposal to add a provision on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Article 9 of the Constitution does not tackle the issue of the right of self-defense squarely.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: It is the government’s consistent position that the SDF is constitutional. This will remain unchanged even if the proposed provision is rejected in a referendum. What is important for the SDF is that its members take pride in risking their lives to defend Japan. Making clear the legitimacy of people who risk their lives in performing their duties is an issue that bears on the very foundation of national security. This is a fully justified reason for revising the constitution.

 

Moritomo Gakuen affair

 

Seiji Osaka (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): Why did National Tax Agency Commissioner Nobuhisa Sagawa not hold his inaugural news conference?

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso: A session focused on Moritomo Gakuen and related issues is not a news conference for the new commissioner to give his inaugural message.

 

Osaka: Mrs. Akie Abe should give an explanation.

 

Abe: I have answered on my wife’s behalf that she was not involved with the discount (given in the sale of government-owned land).

 

Kenji Eda (Group of Independents): The main reason why this issue blew up was the fact that Mrs. Abe consented to become the honorary principal of the elementary school Moritomo Gakuen was building.

 

Abe: It was regrettable that this caused the people to have suspicions.

 

Eda: It would be quite natural to think that political influence was involved in the sale of government land.

 

Abe: It is true that my wife (became the honorary principal and gave a speech at Moritomo Gakuen’s kindergarten). Neither my wife nor I were involved in the negotiations.

 

Eda: The prime minister’s wife is seen by the people as the prime minister’s alter ego and proxy.

 

Abe: In light of what happened, (Akie) needs to be very careful (in her activities).

 

Kake Gakuen affair

 

Eda: When you met with Kake Gakuen Director Kotaro Kake on April 7, 2015, did you talk about the opening of the new veterinary school?

 

Abe: I spent most of my time having pictures taken (with participants in the meeting). I believe I did not talk about work (with Mr. Kake).

 

Security legislation

 

Yasushi Adachi (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): Along with the discussions on the revision of Article 9 of the Constitution, we would like to discuss the security legislation with the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.

 

Abe: While the government thinks the security laws are optimal, the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly harsh. It will be very meaningful for political parties to discuss future policies. (Abridged)

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