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LDP heavyweight on Abe’s policy on foreign workers, constitutional revision, other issues

By Koichi Hagiuda, LDP executive acting secretary general

(Interviewed by Masako Nagashima)

 

I was told to stay on my job in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secretary general’s office when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president) formed his fourth cabinet and reshuffled the party leadership recently. Since his personnel policy was to maintain the “backbone,” I am pleased that I am part of the lineup that he appreciated.

 

We are aiming at passing the amendments to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to expand the intake of foreign workers at the current extraordinary Diet session. With the upturn in the economy, there is a serious labor shortage in the regions and the small and mid-size enterprises. Certain sectors, such as medical and nursing care services, are now untenable without hiring foreigners.

 

Some people label the new system an immigration policy, but visa holders will not be allowed to bring in their family members and relatives eventually.

 

However, the reality is that 7,000 foreign technical interns have gone missing under the present system. We fully understand the people’s concern about deficient administration. There are also bad placement agencies which charge exorbitant commissions. The LDP will look into the actual situation and study ways to impose stricter regulations and take other necessary measures.

 

Support for foreign workers is also important in order to secure high-quality manpower. The private sector employers and the national and local governments will work together to set up a support system to provide assistance in terms of Japanese language education, consultation on daily living, and housing.

 

With regard to constitutional revision, we need to end the situation of continuous discussions and ask the Commissions on the Constitution of the Diet to examine the LDP’s proposals. We would like to create the conditions to enable us to submit constitutional revision motions as an extension of this process. Personnel changes have taken place in the bodies for the constitutional debate, with former Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura taking up the chairmanship of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution.

 

While some people say these changes mean a shift to constitutional revision, isn’t it better to have people who are enthusiastic to work on this issue? Certain opposition parties openly declare that they would not even participate in the constitutional debate under the Abe administration. Is that the right attitude? I would like to ask the people. Constitutional revision is the LDP’s basic policy. We shouldn’t be polishing the balls all the time but should start the game.

 

It is said that the government dominates the LDP in policymaking, but that doesn’t mean that the party is simply a subordinate of the government and will listen to everything it says. Even parents and children, husbands and wives quarrel sometimes, right? Do we need to brag that we said something to the government all the time?

 

Although we don’t show off, we are definitely talking to the government.

 

The Policy Research Council, the party’s policymaking arm, is taking steps to revitalize itself as an organization by reducing bodies that have overlapping roles and reorganizing the research commissions.

 

We are facing a major hurdle, the House of Councillors election, next year. It is important for us to control a stable majority, so it is necessary to draw up our strategy diligently.

 

The Prime Minister has a clear vision for this country and his sense of responsibility as the leader of this nation is incredibly strong. Although he has made many diplomatic achievements, there are people who would rather want him to work on social security and economic revitalization. However, even the TPP, which has nothing to do with the people’s daily lives on the surface, will actually expand Japan’s trading sphere and increase business profits and employees’ wages, thereby benefiting social security as well. It will enhance national interest tremendously. We hope that many people will understand that this will also contribute to individual happiness.

 

Since it is said that my faction, the Hosoda faction, does not have a candidate to succeed Abe, it would be fine for people from other factions to compete in the next election. As for me, I will work on anything I am tasked to do. Since the party has helped me grow as a politician, I would like to become the secretary general someday. Modesty aside, I have been saying so since I was elected to my first term in the Diet. (Slightly abridged)

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