The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives and House of Councillors Budget Committees on Nov. 26:
Shiori Yamao (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan [CDPJ], Lower House): Does the Prime Minister have a definition of what he calls immigration policy?
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: I have no intention to adopt an immigration policy of the sort that many Japanese people have concerns about.
Yamao: Is there any possibility for workers holding “specified skills” visas to become permanent residents?
Abe: The Justice Ministry is considering not including holders of Type 1 visas in “qualification for employment” under the guidelines for granting permanent residence but including Type 2 visa holders.
Seiji Osaka (CDPJ, Lower House): Details of the proposed amendments [to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act] are still undecided. This is a bill with no substance. What is the present status of measures for accepting foreign workers?
Abe: We are actively promoting relevant policies to prepare the environment for accepting them.
Toshiro Ino (Liberal Democratic Party, Lower House): It is regrettable that there were errors in the findings of the Justice Ministry’s survey of foreign technical interns who have gone missing. Will these errors affect the proposed amendments to the Immigration Act?
Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita: While the errors were not intentional, they should never have happened. I would like to offer my heartfelt apologies. The survey findings per se will not affect the bill.
Tetsuro Fukuyama (CDPJ, Upper House): Will you not release the questionnaires used in the survey? It is unthinkable to pass the amendments without first grasping the situation surrounding the technical interns.
Yamashita: They were not meant to be made public. Some of them may result in criminal prosecution.
Takeshi Fujimaki (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party], Upper House): It is necessary to promote the use of AI and robots precisely when there is a labor shortage.
Abe: Foreign workers will only be accepted in sectors that suffer from labor shortages despite the use of robots and other steps to improve productivity. A serious imbalance in demand and supply in the labor force is not foreseen under this system.
Ino: How would you sum up the Japan-Russia summit meeting earlier this month?
Abe: President Putin and I share a strong determination not to leave this issue to the next generation and to resolve it with our own hands.
Hiroshi Ogushi (Group of Independents, Lower House): Are the Northern Territories being occupied by Russia illegally?
Abe: These islands are an integral part of Japan’s territory.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono: It is not in Japan’s national interest to talk about the government’s thinking in public.
Ino: How would you deal with the ROK’s moves, such as the court ruling on the forced laborers’ case and the dissolution of the comfort women foundation?
Kono: (The court ruling) overturns the legal foundation [of the bilateral relationship] after the normalization of diplomatic ties. At this point, in order to maintain high-level negotiations, we are not thinking of (the temporary recall of the ambassador to the ROK as a retaliatory measure) .
Daisaku Hiraki (Komeito, Upper House): Protectionism is on the rise. What is Japan’s role in this situation?
Abe: As the standard-bearer of free trade Japan will actively promote the strengthening of the trade system based on free and fair rules.