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Gist of interpellations at Upper House Budget Committee, March 1, 2018

The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on March 1, 2018:


Work style reform, discretionary work system


Kohei Otsuka (Democratic Party [DP]): What have you decided about the bills related to work style reform that you originally planned to submit to the Diet?


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: We take seriously that data on the discretionary work system will now have to be reexamined in light of criticism that the data is flawed. We will completely drop the discretionary work system from the bills and hold fresh discussions after getting an accurate picture of the real situation.


Otsuka: If you give up on the merit-based pay system for highly professional jobs, we would agree to engage in positive discussions on the bills.


Abe: The pay system for professionals will enable flexible work styles as well as enhance productivity. This will be included in the bills as planned.


Saori Yoshikawa (DP): What will you do to obtain accurate data on working hours under the discretionary work system?


Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Katsunobu Kato: We will consider the specific steps from now on. It goes without saying that it will be necessary to conduct a survey with new methods.


U.S. military aircraft mishaps


Otsuka: After the incident in which a U.S. military helicopter’s window dropped onto the playground of an elementary school (adjacent to the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa), we demanded that U.S. forces not fly over schools.


Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera: We have asked the U.S. military to take effective measures also for aircraft that fly to the Futenma base.


Abe: Such incidents and accidents should never happen. Ensuring safety is of highest priority. I have also conveyed this message to President Trump.


Otsuka: An F-16 fighter from the Misawa base dropped fuel tanks into Lake Ogawara in Aomori Prefecture.


Onodera: The Self-Defense Forces [SDF] have retrieved around 90% of the parts of the fuel tanks.


North Korea


Tamayo Marukawa (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP]): It is necessary to demonstrate that North Korea’s possession of nuclear arms will not be tolerated.


Abe: The situation will be critical after the end of the PyeongChang Paralympic Games. North Korea continues with its development of nuclear arms and missiles even while it is engaged in its smile diplomacy. Japan, the U.S., and the ROK will collaborate closely and solicit the cooperation of China, Russia, and other relevant nations to make North Korea change its policies. The SDF and the Japan Coast Guard are conducting missions to deal with ship-to-ship transfers and this has produced some results. We will take all possible measures to maximize pressure.


G20 Summit


Shuji Miyamoto (LDP): Japan will host the G20 Summit in 2019.


Abe: This will be the biggest summit meeting to be hosted by Japan. We would like to exercise strong leadership.


(Slightly abridged)

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