A visit from U.S. Assembly members and my visit to the EU Headquarters

(February 2020)

Last October, I was appointed as manager of the foreign policies department of the KOMEITO, and as director of the committee on foreign affairs in the House of Representatives. On October 28, I also released my new book “Japanese Politics, One Politician’s Perspective” and held book launch parties in Kyoto City and Tokyo.

On November 19, a bipartisan delegation of U.S. State Assembly members from the Republican and Democratic Parties visited the KOMEITO Headquarters in Tokyo. They expressed interest in the KOMEITO as a ruling bloc, and inquired on the fundamental principles, policies, achievements, and the relationship between the KOMEITO and the LDP.

They also showed interest about the North Korea abduction issue and asked me if the abductees were taken from foreign countries. I explained that all but one were abducted in Japan. In particular, I told them about YOKOTA Megumi, a girl of thirteen who was abducted on her way home from school in Niigata Prefecture. This was a violation of human rights and Japan’s sovereignty. They were very much surprised by the story.

Next, from November 26 to 28, I visited the EU Headquarters in Strasbourg, France as a delegation member for parliamentary interaction between Japan and the EU. On November 27, the plenary session of the EU parliament was held and Ms. Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen was elected as the first female President of the European Commission. We, the Japanese members which included LDP and NDP members, participated in this historical plenary session and were introduced as Japanese Diet members.

Our delegation met many VIPs of the European Commission and had major conferences with the EU Parliament members. We reached a common recognition of the importance of “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as global warming, eradicating poverty, zero starvation and so forth. There was also the valuable agreement that the EU and Japan were politically stable owing to the ability to compromise by their leaders.

I had the opportunity to address conference members regarding the North Korea military crisis and abduction issues. The EU parliament members appreciated my explanation on these issues and of Japan’s stance, saying “Japan is exposed to the threat of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles of North Korea”. Furthermore, “The EU can’t tolerate such a crime against the Japanese people by North Korea and intends to further cooperate with Japan. The Japanese abductees were no threat to North Korea nor were they running away from home. There are serious human rights issues in North Korea. However, the international society seems unable to respond to these issues. In the future, the international community needs to put more pressure on North Korea”. I fully realized the importance in explaining the North Korea military crises and abduction issues to an international society, which I hope will lead to a resolution.

Strasbourg is a very beautiful and historic city, and I wanted to have a chance to see the sights, but unfortunately, I had to return to Japan right after the conference.

By Yuzuru Takeuchi