The following is the gist of the interpellations at the Upper House Audit Committee meeting on April 5, 2021:
Yukihito Koga (Opposition parliamentary group consisting of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party): How do you view the possibility of a fourth wave of infections?
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga: New infections are on a slight increase in Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures, but people traffic has sharply increased in these areas. There are concerns that cases in these areas may shoot up again.
The current situation has yet to reach a major nationwide surge that could be called a fourth wave, but a strong sense of vigilance is needed to tackle the issue.
Chair of the government’s expert panel on coronavirus measures Shigeru Omi: The impact of the increase in people traffic after the state of emergency was lifted [in the greater Tokyo area] will begin to emerge in one to two weeks. The situation in the capital could come to resemble that in Osaka.
Emergency-level priority measures to contain the spread of COVID-19
Masayo Tanabu (Opposition parliamentary group consisting of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party): The government has initiated emergency-level priority measures for the prefectures of Osaka, Hyogo, and Miyagi.
Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura: Infections are quickly spreading in the three cities of Osaka, Kobe, and Sendai to the level that an emergency could be declared. It is important to prevent infections from spreading throughout these prefectures.
Yuichiro Koga (Liberal Democratic Party): The spread of COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the nation’s economy.
Suga: We will firmly support businesses and jobs by carefully listening to the views of business operators and implementing various support measures.
Japan-U.S. summit meeting
Katsuo Yakura (Komeito): Are you going to ask U.S. President Joe Biden to get involved in the abductions issue?
Suga: The abductions issue is a top priority for my administration. We want to closely cooperate with the U.S., China, and other relevant countries to resolve this and other pending issues.
Yakura: How about climate change?
Suga: I would like to take up climate change as a major issue. I want Japan and the U.S. to lead the international community in [its efforts to tackle] climate change. I hope to cooperate closely with the Biden administration in calling on China to fulfill its obligations as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. I’m determined to advance decarbonization worldwide.
Meeting at Kantei
Yukihito Koga: You held a meeting (with a group of unaffiliated lawmakers) at the Prime Minister’s Office [Kantei].
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai: I often exchange views on political matters with various people, including lawmakers. I don’t see a problem in the meeting itself. I regret that I did not exercise enough caution [in selecting the venue]. I will not hold such a meeting there again.
Ryosuke Takeda (Japanese Communist Party): The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant was found to have serious flaws in its anti-terrorism facilities.
Suga: I take this problem very seriously. This issue inevitably leads people to harbor doubts about Tokyo Electric Power Company and its qualifications to operate nuclear power plants. TEPCO needs to handle the inspections by the Nuclear Regulation Authority with sincerity and to take necessary measures.