02/17/2012 National Security Dormant Deposits

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(Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka)I’m Yasuo Tanaka representing the People’s New Party and New Party Nippon.
I believe it’s the state’s fundamental responsibility to protect the lives of its people and their properties. It also forms the basis of the nation’s diplomacy and it’s a matter of national security. From this perspective, I believe Takeshima Island is definitely an integral part of the Japanese territory. Would you agree?
(State Minister, Mr. Koichiro Genba)Yes, definitely, Takeshima is an integral part of Japan.
(Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka)I thank you for your answer.
In his foreign policy speech on January 24th, Mr. Genba said the territorial dispute over Takeshima Island cannot be solved overnight, but the Japanese government will make it clear to the South Korean government what’s unacceptable will remain unacceptable. He said he will patiently and persistently seek understanding from South Korea.
As most of you probably know already, the size of Takeshima is about the same as the Hibiya Park in Tokyo. The area comprises of the two main islands; the East Island (Onnajima) and the West Island( Otokojima), plus 37 small reefs. But because of sharp cliffs along the coastlines, no one lives there.
Would you please identify in concrete terms what’s unacceptable to Japan, and also what action the government plans to take to reclaim the Island?
(State Minister, Mr. Koichiro Genba)I will first talk about what’s unacceptable to Japan. Incidentally, I understand I am the first state minister after former Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira who spoke on the dispute over Takeshima Island in a foreign policy speech.
I chose to speak about the issue because I strongly felt the need of taking a strong stance against South Korea, because some of their state ministers visited the Island recently or the country is trying to construct buildings around the Island. Such moves certainly challenges our position on the island.
(Committee Member, Yasuo Tanaka)Thank you.
Last year on August 1st, three lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party — Mr. Yoshitaka Shindo, Ms. Tomomi Inada and Mr. Masahisa Sato — attempted to visit the disputed Island of Ulleung with a population of 10 thousand. But they were denied entry as South Korea applied the anti-terrorist clause of the Immigration and Control Law. The measure was taken for the first time since the founding of the Republic of Korea.
The three lawmakers didn’t try to enter the Island just for fun. They had a statement to make. As Mr. Genba pointed out, 6 South Korean ministers and 7 lawmakers landed on the Island in 5 months between March 11th and August 1st. But after the 3 Japanese lawmakers landed at the South Korea airport on August 1st, the following events were cancelled—-an inspection by South Korean parliament special committee members which was scheduled on August 12th,, visits by the leaders of the Grand National Party and the Democratic Party on August 14th and 15th. A fashion show on August 10th and music concerts on September 3rd and October 15th were also cancelled. They cited bad weather as reason for their cancellations. But I believe it’s the bravery of the three lawmakers which contributed.
Incidentally, Mr. Noda visited South Korea on October 19th and the 20th. I understand you certainly touched on the Takeshima issue as well as historical issues?(Prime Minister, Mr. Yoshihiko Noda)When I visited Seoul and met with the South Korean President, I told him we have difficult issues between the two countries and I encouraged him to work together from a broader perspective to prevent those challenges from adversely affecting the bilateral relations.
(Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka)It was also reported in the Japanese media that Mr. Noda told President Lee Myung Bak that he strongly believes the issues hampering the bilateral relations can be overcome. But in South Korea, it was reported that Mr. Lee strongly urged Mr. Noda to actively respond and face up to challenges between the two countries in a sincere manner.
But I assume these statements may have been edited out of the summit papers issued by the Foreign Ministry. That’s why the Japanese media reported Mr. Noda and Mr. Lee cautiously refrained from touching on the historical problems and instead only confirmed the future of the two nations.
One week later, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported extensively the South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration and the Land and Marine Affairs Ministry announced the construction of levees capable of berthing a 5 thousand ton-class passenger ship on the Takeshima Pier which is currently only capable of mooring a 300-ton ship. Yonhap is like Japan’s Kyodo News Service.
On the 28th of the same month, South Korea planned a fashion show even though no one lives on the island. Of course, the Japanese government repeatedly demanded the event be cancelled, but unfortunately, the South Korean Foreign Ministry dismissed it by saying there’s no merit to even respond to the demand. There’s more. For some unknown reason, the South Korean administrative vice minister calls Takeshima ‘Dokdo.’The South Korean government says the island is its territory from the historical and geographical viewpoints and in accordance with the International Laws. It says Japan has nothing to do with the Island, according to the Yonhap New Agency.Just as Chinese strategist Sun Tsushi wrote in his Art of War, unless we know ourselves and we know our enemy…I believe we will not be able to make progress in the area of national security or national territorial issues.
This is the philosophy espoused by Mr. Ukeru Magosaki, a former professor at the National Defense Academy who was also the director of the Intelligence and Analysis Bureau of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
If we try to know our enemy, in this case, South Korea, and to learn their side of the story, they in the past claimed their ownership of the Island in oldest documents such as popular Chinese Classic Sangokushi (The Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms), Sesojitsurhoku(Sejong’s 1454 Geography Text) or 1530 Sinjeung Dongguk Yeoji Seungram enemy.
As you know, Hayashi Shihei appears in Kaikoku-heidan and spoke of the need of maritime defense. For some reason, he painted Korea in yellow.
In fact, we find similar references in Taiseikan-shirei kept in the National Archives in which the Japanese Army and Navy acknowledged the Island as part of the Korean territory. In this document, the island is referred to as Matsushima, which is now called Takeshima.
The most serious of all, the US Board on Geographic Names lists the island as a South Korean territory in July, 2008.
That was before the change of government took place in Japan.  Unfortunately, the then-Chief Cabinet Secretary said the government had no intention of taking any action against the listing while it only hopes the US will make a fresh judgment on that. When asked during a news conference if the then-Prime Minister had the intention of raising objections, he said NO and even asked back to the reporter why such objections were necessary.
Mr. Junichiro Koizumi was still a diet member at the time. He even sang and dance Plesley in front of Mr. George W Bush. I wonder why Mr. Koizumi just didn’t pick up the phone and tell Mr. Bush ‘That’s outrageous!’
Then, on December 18th, last year, the Japan-South Korean summit was held. The Kyodo News Service again asked the Prime Minister why he failed to take up the issue of Takeshima during the summit. Mr. Noda responded, he left the matter to the Foreign Minister. That’s his role, he said.
Takeshima is a matter of national security and I don’t know why Mr. Noda chose not to take up the issue. Why is the issue so low in priority? Mr. Noda said he left the matter to the Foreign Minister, but I strongly believe the nation’s Commander-in-chief should have clarified his view in the face of disagreement.
When it comes to the territorial issues, I find it most problematic the Diet has no committee to deal with the territorial disputes. It only has a committee for the northern territories and it’s designed only to deal with them.
The government also has the Northern Territories Affairs Administration at the Cabinet Office. But if we are to discuss national security, I think it’s necessary to set up a section which deals specifically with all the territorial disputes.
Mr. Noda, would you please make a decision immediately and establish a comprehensive organization with a fresh name as you so pledged to protect the beauty of our country.
(Prime Minister, Mr. Yoshihiko Noda) First of all, I’d like to respond to Mr. Tanaka’s question on the Japan-South Korean Summit in Kyoto on December 18th of last year. In fact, just before my meeting with President Lee Myung Bak, Foreign Minister Genba held talks with a senior presidential secretary to Mr. Lee at the Blue House Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. The meeting took place just about when a group of South Korean lawmakers were planning to visit Takeshima. Mr. Genba strongly demanded the cancellation of the trip in accordance with the Japan’s position on the island.
My meeting with President Lee took place soon afterwards. So I repeated what I had previously told him in Seoul that Japan and South Korea do have challenges but we should work together to overcome them and prevent them from adversely affecting the overall relations between the two countries.
We must protect our territories and territorial waters with faith. We plan to study what actions to take, but we wish to discuss the positioning of the issue at the Diet within the diet.
(Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka)Of course, the issue must be discussed at the Diet. But the name of the committee at the Cabinet Office is the Northern Territories Affairs Administration. I think the name should be changed into something like the General Territorial Affairs Administration, if we take into consideration the fact our country is surrounded by the seas.
(Prime Minister, Mr. Yoshihiko Noda)I agree there are various territorial disputes including one over the Northern Territories. I also believe we need to set up a special section to deal with them. As Mr. Tanaka has made the proposal, we’d like to study the possinilitiy.
(Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka) I repeat the call to set up a special department to deal with various territorial disputes.
There is a saying, the country is in ruins, and there are still mountains and rivers. But when people are fatigued, the country cannot exist even if there are mountains and rivers—we cannot even discuss national security.
The day before yesterday on February 15th, the effective utilization of dormant deposits, which is a matter of national concern right now, was on the front page of the Asahi Shinbun newspaper. On the same day, the Council for the Promotion of Growth and Finance was organized to discuss the issue from the homeland national security viewpoint. I would like Mr. Motohisa Furukawa who co-chairs the Council to tell us about its strategies and tactics. (Minister of State, Mr. Furukawa)I will respond to the question.
For the smooth supply of growth money, our strategies are to expand the source of money supply, to reinforce brokerage and support functions, and to strengthen the relationship with the financial markets overseas. In the last Council meeting for the Promotion of Growth Finance, we decided to examine concrete measures for the strategies and are committed to a course of action to realize those strategies. We decided to proceed with a detailed study of how to take advantage of the“unutilized assets” as one idea of how to expand the sources of funds.
My understanding of Japan’s current financial situation is that funds are not necessarily scarce but underutilized. Comparing Japan’s economic health to a human body, it seems to be suffering from poor blood circulation. Therefore, I believe if blood circulation is improved, enterprises and economic activities will be revitalized and that will lead to economic growth.
From that perspective, I think the dormant deposits are funds which can be effectively utilized to improve circulation.  In addition, I know that the dormant deposits are realized profits in certain cases by the financial institutions. Therefore, I am planning to establish an executive committee consisting of parliamentary secretaries or the equivalent, under the Council of Promotion for Growth Finance, to work on a detailed study of how to better utilize the dormant deposits.
There seems to be a misunderstanding that the government will simply dispossess the people’s deposits for its use. It is not the case. In order to utilize the dormant deposits as they are used today in the U.K., it surely requires law revisions and the development of a legal framework. I would like people to understand that deposits will be rightly returned to the depositors if requested. We may face various hurdles for this task. However, I will not condemn it by listing up problems. Rather, I intend to maintain a focus on how we can utilize the dormant deposits and to examine specific measures while having a full discussion with the people of Japan.
(Chairman, Mr. Nakai)Minister of State, regarding this issue, I cannot help pointing out that Mr. Tanaka proposed this issue twice in the past Budget Committee meetings. Please give a comment on that.
(Minister of State Furukawa)Indeed. I have heard what Mr. Tanaka has been saying for some time and been wondering how we could examine the possibility of utilizing the dormant deposits. In that sense, the proposals from Mr. Tanaka helped to launch the review process of this idea.
(Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka) I feel delighted a little too much as I am not used to compliments.  Two years ago, I found out that the funds in the dormant deposits become unearned income of financial institutions after 10 years with no transactions. I requested the data of these dormant accounts from the Financial Services Agency, but there was no data collected in those days.  After several requests, we figured out that it would be approximately 30 billion yen a year for megabanks. If other regional banks, the labor credit union, the credit union, and the credit association are included, it would be approximately 90 billion yen as it was recently reported in the newspaper. But there is not even an estimate for the Postal Bank and the Agricultural Union and I would ask the data to be disclosed by all means.
My colleague and the leader of the People’s New Party, Mr. Kamei has raised the issue when he acted as the Minister of Financial Services. Our political party, just one and a half years ago, submitted a written document for budget request titled “Japan Reconstruction Which Revives Spirits” that suggested the funds from the dormant deposits should be used to carry out social policies. I, myself, delivered the statement five times in the representative questionings in plenary sessions and the Budget Committee meetings.
However, in the same newspaper article, the bank industry refutes our idea by saying that the dormant deposits belong to their customers and it’s wrong for the government to spend them. I have to say that it is the Japanese Bankers Association that is wrong. The dormant deposits belong to the Japanese people, not to the banks as they virtually claim.
I also need to point out that Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Resona, and Chuo Mitsui Trust Group have not paid corporate tax nor corporate enterprise tax for 15 years. From March 1995 to march 2010, not even a dime of tax was paid by them, although they paid 241.8 billion yen to the government as tax last year. People criticize the compensation of the Diet members being high but the executives of those banks receive far higher compensation. That is why I have been suggesting that we need to employ pro forma standard taxation for large banks, but that is not the subject of today’s discussion.
The claim by the financial institutions is solely based on internal regulations of the Japanese Bankers Association which is nothing more than an incorporated association. It says that those accounts left without transactions for more than ten years and no possibility to contact depositors shall be categorized as dormant. The dormant deposits may be realized as profits.  All the financial institutions today realize unearned income following the regulation.  Some raise questions from the view point of the property rights of the constitution Article 29. As for this, I say the mileage point and the card point lapse automatically as well.
“Utilization for Disaster Reconstruction” appeared as a headline in the news paper may sound like a political maneuver to the public. Incorporating the money into the reconstruction fund will merely create juicy employment positions for retired bureaucrats. Cunning people will gather around the funds like termites and the money will disappear like bubbles. Therefore, I believe the funds should be utilized as micro-credit, like the Grameen Bank of Mr. Muhammad Yunus who received the Nobel Peace prize, to fund nonprofit organizations to promote development in motivated regions.
Unfortunately, Mr. Katsunori Nagai, Chairman of the Japanese Bankers Association, who is the president of Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ, yesterday called the dormant accounts fictional. I do not understand what he meant by that. He also is questioning whether the government action of taking the dormant deposits is a justifiable action according to the constitutional property right. I would like to ask officers of the Bankers Association to read the Article 12 of the Constitution by all means. It is written that the people shall refrain from any abuse of these freedoms and rights, guaranteed by this Constitution, and shall always be responsible for utilizing them for the public welfare.
The Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr. Yohei Sasagawa wrote in “Seiron” in the Sankei Newspaper recently that there are many large size dormant accounts with alias names while many small size accounts with less than 10,000 yen were created by unmarried young people and left dormant.  Mr. Nagai claims Japan has ten times as many accounts as the U.K. and it requires a large effort to manage. That says to me that even discounting the fact that the population of Japan is twice as much of the U.K., Japan has many accounts of stashed money being kept secret from family members.
As Mr. Furukawa has declared his commitment, I would like to hear Mr. Noda’s commitment to tackle the issue of dormant accounts with unwavering resolve.  The funds of dormant accounts should not be merely put into the government funds where cunning people gather around like termites. The dormant accounts should be utilized for our society following the example of Grameen Bank.
(Chariman, Mr. Nakai)Mr. Tanaka’s question time is over, therefore there will be no replies to the last question. (When Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka called out “Please wait!” ). Nine minutes have passed.
(Committee Member, Mr. Yasuo Tanaka)  Thank you.
(Chariman, Mr. Nakai)This concludes the question time of Mr. Tanaka.