The following is the gist of the interpellations at the House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on March 27:
Landfill work off Henoko
Yuko Mori (Democratic Party for the People): In your Diet reply on March 26, you said you received a report of the soft seabed (that it needs to be reinforced) on January 18. But in a press conference on January 21, you said, “I am not aware [of the soft seabed].” Which is correct?
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: I think both are correct.
Mori: What do you mean?
Suga: I was informed by the defense ministry on January 18. But I thought it would be inappropriate to publicly answer questions before explaining the results of our discussion to Okinawa. When I was asked at the press conference, I said, “I’d like to refrain from commenting on that.” But I was further asked, so I said, “I am not aware of it.” I think that is not a false in a sense.
Satoshi Inoue (Japanese Communist Party): You have been saying that you take [the outcome of] the Okinawa referendum sincerely. But what made the government start landfill work in a new area?
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: I understand that various thoughts were put into the referendum. But I also believe that Okinawa’s people want the government to mitigate Okinawa’s base-hosting burden.
Negotiations on return of Northern Territories
Hideya Sugio (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): Former residents of the islands were wavering while thinking to themselves that (the return of) the four islands will be reduced to “two islands with something extra” or to “nothing at all.” They have been buffeted by various information. The government’s failure to explain even the basic stance is tantamount to a diplomacy that ignores the public.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono: We’re currently negotiating to reach an agreement acceptable to both Japan and Russia. We don’t react to unofficial comments made by the counterpart country or don’t make unofficial comments, either. I’d like to ask you to let us negotiate in a quiet environment.