The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors Budget Committees on April 26, 2018:
Shigeyuki Goto (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP], Lower House): Japan should continue to put pressure on North Korea.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Japan, the U.S., and South Korea will closely cooperate in order to elicit from North Korea concrete actions on various problems such as the abduction issue and the nuclear and missile development programs.
Yoshihiro Kawano (Komeito, Upper House): A summit will be held between South and North Korea on April 27.
Abe: (South Korean) President Moon Jae-in will brief me face-to-face (on the results when he comes to Japan in May.)
Goto: The abduction issue was raised at the Japan-U.S. summit.
Abe: President Trump clearly demonstrated his commitment (to the abduction issue) to the world and North Korea.
Susumu Hamamura (Komeito, Lower House): You asked both the U.S. and South Korea to raise the abduction issue [at their summits with North Korea.]
Abe: The abduction issue will be raised at the South-North Korea summit. It is important that North Korea’s top leader acknowledges that it is an extremely important issue.
Ichiro Tsukada (LDP, Upper House): The families of the victims [abducted by North Korea] are hoping that their loved ones will be returned all at once.
Abe: It’s extremely regrettable that the abduction issue has yet to be resolved. I will act as the control tower and urge North Korea to reach an early settlement of the issue.
Tsukada: What do you hope will come out of the Japan-North Korea summit?
Abe: Resolution of the abduction issue should be expected at the summit.
Michiyo Yakushiji (Independent, Upper House): What was the U.S. stance in the economic field?
Abe: We agreed to start discussions on trade to seek ways that satisfy the stances of both Japan and the U.S., which calls for a bilateral deal.
[Moritomo, Kake Gakuen affairs]
Goto: You should have carefully addressed these issues.
Abe: While fully conscious of the harsh eyes of the Japanese public, I will step up efforts to give explanations as in-depth as possible.
Kazumi Sugimoto (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party], Lower House): Is there anything you regret?
Abe: It’s natural that the public became suspicious. Looking back, I was not fully aware [of the Moritomo and Kake Gakuen scandals]. That caused these issues to dominate Diet deliberations to the exclusion of policy issues. Frankly, I regret that. On the other hand, I did not give instructions to a single person [with regard to the Moritomo Gakuen or Kake Gakuen affairs].
Daisuke Katayama (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party], Upper House): You should make your former executive secretary Tadao Yanase disclose everything.
Abe: If the occasion arises, I want Yanase to reveal everything he knows.
Katayama: What were the results of the investigation into the alleged visit of officials of Imabari City of Ehime Prefecture to the Prime Minister’s Office?
Abe: We conducted an investigation but could not confirm any records.
Katayama: When did you learn about the establishment of a veterinary medicine faculty at the Kake Educational Institution?
Abe: I never heard (from Kotaro Kake) of a plan to set up a veterinary medicine faculty. I learned of the plan on Jan. 20, 2017.
[Sexual harassment scandal]
Katayama: What is your take on the scandal and the response of the Ministry of Finance?
Abe: The resignation of former administrative Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda is truly regrettable. Sexual harassment is not tolerated. The Finance Ministry should consider whether there is anything it must reflect on. An approach that is sympathetic to the feelings of the party is important to a certain degree in the case of a scandal like this one. I will order the Finance Ministry to swiftly conduct an investigation and take proper action.
[Dissolution of Lower House]
Sugimoto: Do you have any plans to dissolve the Lower House?
Abe: Dissolving the Lower House is not on my mind. I’d like to be very clear about that. What is needed now is to thoroughly discuss policies and put into action what we promised last year.