Below is the gist of the interpellations at the Lower House budget committee meeting on June 1, 2022.
Countermeasures against rising prices
Izumi Kenta (CDPJ): Prices are soaring to extraordinary levels, and some people say, “This is Kishida inflation.” The government is not taking any countermeasures against the rising commodity prices. There are no measures against rising food prices in the FY2022 supplementary budget.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio: While price increases in Western countries are said to be between 7% and 8%, Japan has kept the rise down at the 2% level. There is no question that the government measures have been effective in Japan.
Suzuki Yoshihiro (DPFP): An inflation allowance of 100,000 yen should be given to all citizens across the board.
Prime Minister: The government does not plan to disburse any new benefits to the people. We want to develop multilayered measures to protect the people’s lifestyles.
Baba Nobuyuki (Nippon Ishin): A realistic measure against the rising prices would be to lower the consumption tax on all food products to 8% by applying a reduced consumption tax.
Prime Minister: Given the current system, it is difficult to change the system in an agile manner.
Oishi Akiko (Reiwa Shinsengumi): Aren’t you going to reduce the consumption tax?
Prime Minister: I don’t plan to reduce the consumption tax. It [the consumption tax] is important as a stable source of revenues for social security.
Izumi Kenta (CDPJ): In addition to strengthening [Japan’s] military capabilities, diplomacy is necessary as well. Dialogue with China is also important.
Prime Minister: I will deliver a keynote address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue [Asia’s premier defense summit]. As the only Asian member of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations, Japan will firmly communicate what role it will play in today’s harsh diplomatic and security environment. I will say what needs to be said to China to ensure that China fulfills its responsibilities as a major power. While speaking frankly with China, Japan will maintain a constructive relationships with that nation.
Noda Yoshihiko (CDPJ): Since the 2016 summit agreement in which Japan and Russia agreed to begin talks to initiate joint economic activities in the Northern Territories, Russia has amended its constitution and banned the cession of territory. Russia is “running away without paying the cost that needs to be paid.” The Japanese government should strictly review what went wrong.
Prime Minister: It was a very important step for Japan to legalize joint economic activities with Russia.
Noda: The 2018 summit agreement [between Japan and Russia] stated that negotiations for a peace treaty would be accelerated on the basis of the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration, which stipulates the handover of two of the four Northern Islands. As a result, the summit agreement set back bilateral negotiations over the return of the Northern Territories. Back then, only Japan was duped into being optimistic. Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo spread such an illusion.
Prime Minister: Even after the 2018 summit agreement, the Japanese government has repeatedly confirmed its policy to clarify the ownership of the four islands and proceed with negotiations with Russia.
Eto Taku (LDP): Food security needs to be a major core policy.
Prime Minister: Ensuring the secure and stable supply of food is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of a nation.
U.S. forces Futenma airfield
Akamine Seiken (JCP): During the Japan-U.S. summit meeting in May, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to steadily promote the relocation of the U.S. forces Futenma airfield to the Henoko district of Nago City in Okinawa Prefecture. How do you view Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny’s four-point policy [which he recently submitted to the national government]?
Prime Minister: While we appreciate Governor Tamaki’s views, the government maintains that relocation to Henoko is the only viable solution, considering the importance of maintaining the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and eliminating the danger posed by the Futenma airfield. (Abridged)