The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 20, 2018:
Workstyle, discretionary working-hour system
Toshiko Abe (Liberal Democratic Party): Please explain the issue of data relating to the discretionary working-hour system.
Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Katsunobu Kato: The handling of the data was very inappropriate. I apologize to the nation for creating this problem. We conducted a hearing to take testimony from inspectors and other officials involved with the survey.
Akira Nagatsuma (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan [CDPJ]): Your response based on this data would constitute a false response contrary to the truth.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: My response was based on information given to me by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. I am withdrawing my previous response because the data is being reviewed, but this does not mean the data itself is being withdrawn.
Nagatsuma: Was this not fabrication of data?
Abe: My staff has not issued such instructions. It was inappropriate to compare data of different characters. I offer a deep apology.
Nagatsuma: You should not submit bills relating to workstyle reform to this Diet session.
Abe: We are preparing (to submit the bills).
Seiji Osaka (CDPJ): The response that you withdrew was also used in a previous Diet session.
Kato: If I were in a position to do so, I would withdraw that response (made during the time of former Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki).
Kazunori Yamanoi (Party of Hope): The discretionary working-hour system aggravates long working hours.
Abe: This system does not necessarily result in shorter working hours.
Yamanoi: A new fact-finding survey should be conducted.
Abe: While comparing statistics of different characters was inappropriate, this does not negate the data on regular workers and the discretionary working-hour system itself. We have no plans to conduct further surveys.
Kensuke Onishi (Party of Hope): What was the data for?
Kato: I will check.
Takahiro Kuroiwa (Group of Independents): What was the reason for withdrawing the response?
Abe: I made the decision.
Moritomo Gakuen affair
Osaka: Was Mrs. Akie Abe not involved in the sale of the government-owned land?
Abe: My wife was not informed (by then Moritomo Gakuen President Yasunori Kagoike) at all about the contents of the land contract. While there were several phone calls, my wife rarely took them. The government official assigned to my wife told Kagoike it would not be possible to grant his requests. It is clear from this refusal that no special consideration was involved.