The following is the gist of interpellations at the budget committee meeting of the House of Councillors on March 8, 2021:
Kaneshige Wakamatsu (Komeito): The state of emergency was extended by two weeks.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga: What I have to do is prevent a rebound (another outbreak) in new cases to lift the declaration. We aim to do our utmost to bring infections under control as soon as possible by taking various measures to curb the outbreak.
Satsuki Katayama (Liberal Democratic Party): I would like to see the government support workers in difficult situations.
Suga: We want to decide on support measures for single-parent households and people suffering from unintended loneliness and social isolation. We will continue to listen to the views of business operators and provide various kinds of support to protect businesses, employment, and people’s livelihood.
Great East Japan Earthquake
Eiji Kidoguchi (Opposition parliamentary group consisting of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party): Will the government hold a memorial ceremony next year and thereafter?
Suga: The government’s policy is to hold a ceremony through this year, which is the 10th anniversary of the earthquake. We will decide what format the memorial ceremony should take next year and thereafter by closely communicating with local governments.
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
Wakamatsu: We would like [the Prime Minister] to attend the start of the torch relay for the Tokyo Games in Fukushima Prefecture on March 25.
Suga: I am still thinking about whether I can attend because I need to participate in a Diet session [that day]. The torch relay is an important opportunity for all of Japan to feel that the Games are drawing closer. I hope the torch will travel across the nation as a light of hope, with anti-infection measures thoroughly taken.
Katayama: We can’t afford to put off [digitalization].
Suga: With the digital agency serving as the command center, I aim to build a digital society comparable to those of other countries so that every citizen receives the maximum benefits of digitalization. We are facing a severe shortage of human resources necessary for digitalization. The entire government wants to work on developing such professionals.