Under the Diet Law, Article 74, a member of a House of the Diet may, with the approval of the presiding officer of the House, put a question in written form to the Cabinet. Article 75 states that “[t]he Cabinet must answer [the] question within seven days from the day of receipt of the concise statement. If an answer cannot be made within the period, the Cabinet is required to state clearly the reason, and the time by which an answer can be given.”
When the Cabinet receives an Article 74 question, the responsibility for drafting the answer is assigned to the Ministry or Agency that has jurisdiction over the subject matter. In practice, this may require several Ministries and Agencies to labor over different parts of the draft. When the separate parts of the draft answer are completed, they are put together and passed around the other Ministries and Agencies for approval. The draft is also reviewed by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau to make sure that the answer is consistent with the law of the land. Finally, the answer is submitted by the Minister (or Ministers) with jurisdiction to the full Cabinet for approval.
Although this particular question submitted by Councilor Ryūji Yamane (DPJ, Saitama Prefecture) on 10 December “with Regard to Unidentified Flying Objects” and transmitted to the Cabinet on 12 December flew under the radar of the entire mainstream media until Asahi and Sankei, two national dailies, took note that on 18 December the Cabinet adopted an answer, you can be sure that the issue received every bit of attention that it deserved and that the answer was imbued with the full authority of the administration. Although the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology was entrusted with the draft, I have been assured that the Ministry of Defense went over every jot, iota, scintilla and smidgen to make sure that our missile defense system would not be compromised. So nothing would please me more than to tell you that the Cabinet spoke with one voice, with full confidence that “the existence [of UFOs] has not been confirmed*”.
Alas, it was not meant to be. For according to this report from the Asahi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura claims that the Cabinet is wrong. “The government’s answer is extremely pro forma. Personally, I believe that there must be such things.” “Otherwise, those [Nazca lines] can’t be explained.” The Prime Minister merely said, “I haven’t confirmed* it yet”.
I’m sure － well, hopeful － that they’re kidding, and that Mr. Machimura is only faking insubordination. After all, we know what happened when those two normally well-grounded minds tried to wing it with the latest pension accounts revelations.
* In Japanese, “identify” and “confirm” are the same word 確認(kakunin).