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Gist of interpellations at Upper House Budget Committee, March 5, 2018

The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on March 5, 2018:

 

Moritomo Gakuen affair

 

Shinya Adachi (Democratic Party [DP]): What is the result of your investigation into reports that the Finance Ministry’s documents might have been revised after the Moritomo issue was uncovered?

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso: (The report to be released on March 6) will focus on the investigation methods and notable points.

 

Adachi: How will you approach the investigation?

 

Aso: We have been told by the investigation authorities to refrain from (conducting investigation) to avoid allegations of coordinating testimony. In reality, it is difficult to conduct separate investigations before their investigation is duly completed. If revisions were indeed made, this would be a serious matter.

 

Kotaro Tatsumi (Japanese Communist Party [JCP]): Were passages indicating the involvement of Mrs. Akie Abe and politicians deleted?

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: I have absolutely no knowledge of this matter, so I am not be able to answer your question.

 

Tatsumi: If revisions were indeed made, this would warrant the resignation of the cabinet en masse. How would you take responsibility?

 

Abe: I cannot answer a hypothetical question.

 

Work style reform

 

Michihiro Ishibashi (DP): Did you know that the case of a male employee of Nomura Real Estate working under the discretionary work system who committed suicide as a result of overwork was recognized last December as a work-related death?

 

Abe: I have not received any report on this.

 

Ishibashi: Your previous responses in the Diet sounded like the (guidance and supervision) system was functioning properly, but in reality, death from overwork has occurred. This is proof of flaws in the present system. Isn’t this a case of concealment?

 

Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Katsunobu Kato: I have not received a report on every single case. There has been no intent to conceal anything.

 

Adachi: Will you remove all the provisions regarding the discretionary work system from the bills related to work style reform? Measures to ensure workers’ health are necessary.

 

Kato: All the provisions will be deleted. This system will be discussed after we have a clear picture of the real situation.

 

Yoshiki Yamashita (JCP): It is difficult to prevent abuse of this system in advance. There is the same concern with regard to the illegal application of the merit-based pay system for highly professional jobs (exemption from overtime pay).

 

Abe: It is a fact that there have been cases of death from overwork. The Labor Standards Inspection Offices will diligently collect information and provide appropriate guidance.

 

Consumption tax increase

 

Toru Azuma (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): The consumption tax increase slated for October 2019 should be put on hold.

 

Abe: Learning lessons from past experience, we will take adequate measures. We will come up with the best economic and fiscal policies possible.

 

Abenomics

 

Takumi Ihara (Liberal Democratic Party): What are the achievements and issues facing Abenomics?

 

Abe: We succeeded in creating a non-deflationary situation in a short time, but unfortunately we still cannot say that deflation has “ended.”

 

Security legislation

 

Tetsuro Fukuyama (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): In a lawsuit with a Self-Defense Forces member, the government claimed that issuing a mobilization order for defense duty is inconceivable in a survival-threatening situation. There is no such legal provision in the security legislation.

 

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera: We have not claimed that a “survival-threatening situation” under the security legislation is inconceivable. Since the court case is ongoing, what we can say is that the timing for issuing a mobilization order for defense duty is uncertain.

 

(Abridged)

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