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Gist of interpellations at Lower, Upper House Budget Committees, April 29, 2020

The following is the gist of interpellations at the Budget Committees of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors on April 29, 2020:

 

September start of school year

 

Yuichiro Tamaki (Democratic Party for the People, Lower House): The spread of the new coronavirus has been forcing schools to continue to remain shut. The government should change the start of the school year [from April] to September.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Our country faces major changes like this one, and I would like to study various options beforehand. Some people are cautious [about shifting to a September enrollment], arguing that it would have a major impact not only on children and their caregivers but also on all of society, and I’m fully aware of such opinions.

 

Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Koichi Hagiuda: It could be one of the key options if it gains wide recognition among the public.

 

Yasushi Adachi (Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), Lower House): I want the government to closely communicate with the National Governors’ Association about the September enrollment system.

 

Hagiuda: Both the central and regional governments have to take responsibility.

 

New coronavirus situation

 

Tamaki: How long does the public have to endure [social distancing]?

 

Abe: We can see that reducing human-to-human contact has been effective to a certain degree, but the 80% reduction target hasn’t been achieved yet. We can’t consider the outbreak to have ended until the virus is under control worldwide.

 

Special coronavirus law

 

Tamaki: The amendment to the coronavirus special measures law should be discussed.

 

Abe: Of course we have to consider new measures if the current measures and law are not enough to eradicate the virus.

 

Rent support

 

Tamaki: The government should swiftly enact a bill to support business operators in paying their rent.

 

Abe: It has been discussed between the ruling and opposition parties.

 

Financial burdens on hospitals

 

Kazuo Shii (Japanese Communist Party, Lower House): Hospitals should be compensated for their income losses caused by the new coronavirus.

 

Abe: The government will protect the functions of the medical service system in a responsible manner.

 

State of emergency declaration

 

Renho (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Upper House): Will the state of emergency be ended?

 

Abe: It’s still very uncertain whether we’ll be able to say the emergency situation is over on May 6. This is not something I can make a decision on right now.

 

Renho: Are you going to make a decision before May 6?

 

Abe: Announcing [an extension] too close to the May 6 end date could lead to great confusion. We’ve also been receiving requests from municipal governments. The government will make a decision in light of such factors.

 

Yuko Mori (Democratic Party for the People, Upper House): When will the decision be made?

 

Abe: Experts will make proposals after analyzing the spread of infections and the number of individuals whose infection route is unknown.

 

Postponement of Tokyo Olympics

 

Shinkun Haku (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Upper House): The government has proposed the Olympic Games be postponed one year. Is the proposal based on premise that the new coronavirus outbreak has ended?

 

Abe: We’ll hold the Games amid ideal conditions so that both athletes and spectators can participate without worry. We can’t hold the Games in such conditions if the virus has not been eradicated.

 

University tuition

 

Yuka Miyazawa (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Upper House): The government should assist with universities tuition.

 

Hagiuda: We’ve been repeatedly asking universities and vocational schools to extend their deadline for tuition payment, and all national and public schools and 96% of private schools have created a system to deal with the issue.

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