The following is the gist of representative interpellations at the House of Representatives plenary session on Oct. 29:
Yukio Edano (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan)
Amendments to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law will allow the entry of unskilled foreign workers. How is this different from a shift in immigration policy? Rushing off to do this may result in Japan’s human rights standards being questioned by the international community and leave serious problems for the future.
Tomomi Inada (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP])
How is the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement on Goods (TAG) different from a free trade agreement (FTA)?
Japan and China need to develop a friendly relationship from a broad perspective.
Japan needs to take active steps to resolve North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and abduction issues.
Japan was asked not to fly the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s flag at the ROK’s naval review. South Korean National Assembly members landed on Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture. These actions clearly contradict the posture of developing a future-oriented relationship confirmed at the Japan-ROK summit last month. Japan should lodge a strong protest.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) will be reviewed by the end of the year and that Japan’s defense capability will be reinforced drastically. Now is the time for Japan to embrace the spirit of defending itself with its own hands.
The acceptance of foreign workers is partly in response to the localities and industrial organizations hoping to fill the labor shortage. On the other hand, there are concerns about the impact of this on public order, employment, and social security.
Constitutional revision is an urgent task in order to preclude the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) from being called unconstitutional by anyone.
Yuichiro Tamaki (Democratic Party for the People)
While it is important to stand firm on principles in the negotiations with Russia on the Northern Territories, there is no denying that no progress has been made at all on this issue in the past 70 years. Japan should sign a peace treaty based on the Japan-Soviet Joint Communique and realize the return of the islands of Habomai and Shikotan first. Is there any future in maintaining the status quo? Now is the time to make a crucial political decision.
It is a malicious act to translate the trade agreement that Japan has agreed to negotiate with the U.S. as a “Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement on Goods” and even fabricate the acronym “TAG,” which was not found in the joint statement. This was a desperate step taken to prevent Prime Minister Abe’s past remark that Japan “will not engage in negotiations that will lead to an FTA” from becoming a false statement.
The Prime Minister’s statement that “nothing will change” is a lie, since the LDP is introducing constitutional revision proposals that will substantially expand the scope of the right of self-defense.
Prime Minister Abe’s responses
Amendment of the immigration law
We will not adopt a policy of unlimited acceptance of foreigners to sustain this country, or an immigration policy. We will accept foreigners who can join the workforce immediately for a limited period of time to relieve the serious labor shortage. We will consider broader concrete measures to improve the working environment, upgrade Japanese language education, provide housing assistance, promote enrollment in social security schemes, and so forth. (in response to Edano)
We will take effective measures to deal with illegal and fraudulent residents and other steps to prevent crimes as part of the overall effort to improve the environment. (in response to Inada)
Revision of Article 9 of the Constitution
It is the responsibility of politicians of our generation to create an environment in which the SDF members can perform their duties with dignity. Clear written provisions on the legitimacy of SDF members staking their lives for the people is an issue bearing on the very foundation of national defense. (in response to Inada)
It is necessary to face reality squarely and fully secure the required quality and quantity of defense capabilities in this review. This will not simply be an extension of past efforts; we will pursue a vision that will serve as the foundation for the next decades. (in response to Inada)
This does not envision the inclusion of the services and is different from the comprehensive FTAs that Japan has signed so far. On the other hand, there is no authoritative definition of an FTA. I am aware that as a matter of semantics there is the opinion that this is a form of FTA. (in response to Inada)
We will promote exchanges and cooperation in all areas and open up a new era in the Japan-China relationship through reciprocal visits by their leaders. (in response to Inada)
North Korea issues
The next step is for me to meet directly with Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un. With the family members of the abductees aging, I am determined not to miss any opportunity in working on this issue.
The series of incidents that run counter to efforts to build a future-oriented relationship, such as the MSDF flag issue at the international naval review hosted by the ROK and South Korean legislators landing on Takeshima, are indeed regrettable. We strongly hope that the ROK will deal with such problems appropriately. (in response to Inada)
Our consistent position is to resolve the issue of sovereignty over the four Northern Islands before signing a peace treaty. We will persevere in negotiations based on this basic policy. (in response to Tamaki)