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Gist of interpellations at Lower, Upper House Budget Committees, May 14, 2018

The following is the gist of interpellations at the Budget Committees of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors on May 14, 2018:

 

Kake Gakuen affair

 

Hiromasa Nakano (Komeito, Lower House): Former prime minister’s secretary Tadao Yanase met with Kake Gakuen officials at the Kantei.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Prime minister’s secretaries meet with a large number of visitors every day. I do not receive reports from them.

 

Nakano: Is there anything illegal about the meetings in terms of administrative procedures?

 

Abe: These meetings had absolutely no impact on the deliberations of the experts’ panel (approving applications for National Strategic Special Zones [NSSZ]). There was nothing wrong with these meetings. It has been shown that Yanase never received instructions from me nor did anyone else including former Vice Education Minister Kihei Maekawa. 

 

Hiranao Honda (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Lower House): Had Yanase ever reported to you on the new veterinary school in the NSSZ?

 

Abe: There was no specific mention whatsoever of Kake Gakuen or Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture (where the new veterinary school would be located).

 

Yuichiro Tamaki (Democratic Party for the People [DPFP], Lower House): Do you plan to ask Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura and other relevant officials to testify as sworn witnesses?

 

Abe: That is for the Diet to decide.

 

Tamaki: (Together with the Moritomo Gakuen affair), do you feel any responsibility for the present situation?

 

Abe: I object to the insinuation that everything was done in accordance with instructions from me. Please clarify when and where I gave those instructions.

 

Kohei Otsuka (DPFP, Upper House): Do you plan to summon Yanase as a sworn witness?

 

Abe: Yanase answered honestly. Diet business is for the Diet to decide.

 

North Korea issues

 

Fumio Kishida (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP], Lower House): How does Japan intend to be involved?

 

Abe: I will cooperate closely with President Donald Trump ahead of the U.S.-DPRK summit. I will also take advantage of the G7 Summit in Canada in June to fully convey Japan’s position to the U.S. I would like to hear about the results of the U.S.-DPRK summit directly from the President after the meeting. We will coordinate on how this meeting will take place.

 

Ichiro Tsukada (LDP, Upper House): You should meet with Mr. Trump directly to underscore Japan’s position.

 

Abe: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo takes the lead with regard to the U.S.-DPRK summit. When he stopped over at the U.S. forces’ Yokota base after his visit to North Korea, he talked with Foreign Minister Taro Kono over the phone. The two foreign ministers are communicating closely.

 

Hitoshi Asada (Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), Upper House): Do you have information on all the nuclear weapons made by North Korea and where they are kept?

 

Abe: I will refrain from commenting on a matter relating to intelligence. We work hard to collect and analyze information. Japan possesses unique information as well as information that we share with our allies.

 

Japan-North Korea summit

 

Kishida: What do you think of a Japan-DPRK summit?

 

Abe: It must lead to a solution to the abduction issue. We have been conveying Japan’s position to North Korea through all available channels.

 

Michiyo Yakushiji (Independents’ Club, Upper House): You should hold talks with Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un.

 

Abe: It is indeed necessary to convey Japan’s thinking. A summit meeting is for Chairman Kim to decide.

 

Abduction issue

 

Kozo Akino (Komeito, Upper House): Are you determined to resolve the abduction issue?

 

Abe: Japan, China, and the ROK differ in their enthusiasm about this issue. I will make every effort to achieve the reunion of the abduction victims with their parents while the parents are still in good health.

 

Iran nuclear agreement

 

Otsuka: What do you think of Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement?

 

Abe: Japan supports this agreement. On the other hand, the agreement does not cover the development of missiles. I do understand some of the issues raised by Mr. Trump.

 

(Abridged)

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