The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 6:
GSDF helicopter crash
Tetsushi Sakamoto (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP]): A Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) helicopter crashed in Saga Prefecture.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: As the SDF’s supreme commander, I offer my sincere apologies. It is truly regrettable that the accident endangered the local residents’ safety and caused serious damage. Ensuring safety is a top priority. We will make every effort to investigate the cause and prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera: The accident occurred during a test flight conducted after regular maintenance. The main rotor head connecting the rotor blades was replaced. We will take adequate measures for the girl who was injured and for the people who suffered damage from the fire.
Kazuhiro Haraguchi (Group of Independents): You should give full support to the families of the deceased SDF members.
Abe: I pray for the souls of the deceased SDF members and we will take adequate measures for their families.
Akira Kasai (Japanese Communist Party): It is necessary to review helicopter operations and training.
Abe: We will make every effort to conduct a thorough investigation.
Masato Imai (Party of Hope): If a new provision on the SDF is added to Article 9 of the Constitution, would there be consistency with the security laws?
Abe: We are considering a provision on the right of self-defense. I hope this will be discussed in the Commissions on the Constitution.
Soichiro Okuno (Party of Hope): Local autonomy should be discussed.
Abe: The LDP’s constitutional revision proposals include robust provisions on local autonomy.
Okuno: Provisions on a state of emergency are possible even under the present legal system.
Abe: Such provisions are extremely important for national security during a contingency. The absence of Lower House members is a real and important issue that needs to be discussed.
Toru Ishizaki (LDP): I would like to hear your determination to resolve the abduction issue.
Abe: The international community is applying maximum pressure on North Korea. We would like to create a situation in which the DPRK will seek dialogue because it wants to change its policies.
Nuclear plant policy
Naoto Kan (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): The zero nuclear power plant policy is a responsible policy.
Abe: Considering the cost of electricity and the response to climate change, the zero nuclear plant policy is not really a responsible energy policy. The cabinet’s policy is to minimize reliance on nuclear power. (Abridged)