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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Thursday, August 3, 2017

 [Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
In the previous session of the Diet various issues were raised, including the sale of state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen, the establishment of a veterinary school by Kake Educational Institution, and the daily reports issue at the Ministry of Defense. These issues have provoked a great deal of public distrust.

In opening my press conference today I would like to reiterate that I deeply regret what has happened and would like to offer my apologies to the people of Japan.

By listening to the people of Japan and working together with them we will advance politics.

Going back once more to the starting point five years ago when we regained the reins of government, we will make every effort to respond humbly and conscientiously to the mandate given to us by the people. By ensuring that we achieve results in each item on our policy agenda, we will work one step at a time towards regaining the trust of the people.

It is based on this determination that today I reshuffled my Cabinet.

In this new Cabinet I have appointed a broad range of people, from veteran to junior members, and I believe that I was able to achieve a lineup of ministers who are focused on results, who will put work above all else and who have the ability and competence to perform well.

The top priority task for the Cabinet is economic revitalization. The Abe Cabinet will continue to give top priority to the economy. To lead the efforts I have asked Mr. Toshimitsu Motegi, who has to date served as the Chairman of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and has also previously served as Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Thanks to four years of Abenomics, almost two million jobs have been created and the effective jobs-to-applicants ratio for regular employees has also exceeded a ratio of 1.0. This means that if any person wishes to become a regular employee then there is at least one job available for that person. We have finally come this far in fulfilling a major responsibility of politics.

However, there is still much to be done. We will increase employment and raise wages. By further accelerating this positive economic cycle we will succeed in exiting deflation. I would like Minister Motegi to work together with Minister of Finance Taro Aso and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko, both of whom have retained their positions, to further boost Abenomics.

I have also asked Minister Motegi to take on the newly created position of Minister for Human Resources Development.

We aim for a society in which any child is able to work hard towards reaching his or her dreams regardless of their family’s economic situation, and a society in which anyone can return to study at any age and can take on new challenges. I would like Minister Motegi to come up with bold ideas for a socio-economy looking ahead to people living until they are 100 years old.

The minister who will put working-style reform into action is Mr. Katsunobu Kato.

We will introduce equal pay for equal work, aiming for the elimination of the practice of long work hours that has been a persistent feature of the postwar years, and will break down the barriers between regular and non-regular employees. Working-style reform is about to move to the implementation phase. Minister Kato has compiled an implementation plan for working-style reform and as Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare I expect him to aim to achieve the passage of the necessary legislation in the next extraordinary session of the Diet.

Structural reform is the greatest weapon of Abenomics. By actively appointing people who have the drive to make breakthroughs, I aim to press on resolutely with reforms that respond to the needs of the times.

I have asked Mr. Ken Saito to serve as Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and spearhead agricultural reform. Mr. Saito is still a junior member, having been reelected to the Diet three times, but to date he has served as the Director of the LDP Agriculture and Forestry Division, and as State Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In those capacities, he has taken leadership in promoting aggressive agricultural administration, including in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations and in reform of agricultural cooperatives.

Minister of the Environment Masaharu Nakagawa may be assuming a Cabinet position for the first time, but he is a professional in environment policy, having previously served as Administrative Vice Minister of the Environment. I would like him to take up the challenge of implementing bold socio-economic reforms to lead the world in global warming countermeasures, including the formulation of a long-term strategy towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The flagbearer for all aspects of regulatory reform will be Mr. Hiroshi Kajiyama. We will dynamically advance regional revitalization, leveraging the unique characteristics of each region. To that end, I would like Mr. Kajiyama to steadily tackle regulations and systems that have become as firmly entrenched as bedrock.

The discussion over the establishment of a school of veterinary medicine in a National Strategic Special Zone descended into a debate over what was said or not said between the people involved in the coordination process of the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). This debate has served only to arouse suspicions and doubts. I would like Minister Kajiyama to strengthen the National Strategic Special Zone system, including inter-ministerial coordination processes, with a view to further improving transparency.

Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yoshimasa Hayashi has a wealth of experience from serving in various Cabinet positions to date and bringing together organizations in Kasumigaseki. I would like him to work to bring all personnel together at MEXT and to spearhead concerted ministry efforts to revitalize education and advance the promotion of science and technology.

Last week North Korea once again disregarded the warnings of the international community and forcibly conducted the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-class missile. The most important responsibility of the Government is to take all possible steps to secure the safety of the Japanese people in response to the grave and real threat posed by North Korea.

Taking on the position of Minister of Defense will be Mr. Itsunori Onodera, a person who following the inauguration of the second Abe Cabinet worked committedly for more than 600 days on rebuilding Japan’s security policy. Under the unwavering Japan-U.S. Alliance and in order to improve our defense structures and capabilities, I would like Mr. Onodera to advance specific actions to strengthen Japan’s defense capacity.

With an increasingly tense situation surrounding North Korea, we will work to build good relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK), China and Russia, while further deepening the bonds of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. We must further advance the diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map.

At such a time characterized by a tumultuous global situation we must engage in flexible and resilient foreign policy that clearly discerns international currents. I would like Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Kono to exert his inherent creativity and ability to take action to the maximum extent.

The Minister of Justice is Ms. Yoko Kamikawa, who has previously served in the same position in the Abe Cabinet. I would like her to leverage her experience and once again take the helm of the administration of justice, including the appropriate application of the Act on Punishment of the Preparation of Acts of Terrorism and Other Organized Crimes.

I have asked Mr. Shunichi Suzuki to serve as Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are due to be held in three years’ time. Mr. Suzuki has a wealth of political experience and is a native of Iwate, one of the prefectures affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. In 2020 we will show the world a reconstructed Tohoku region. I would like Mr. Suzuki to continue preparations to ensure that the Games in 2020 are truly emblematic of the reconstruction.

There can be no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Tohoku. This is the fundamental policy of the Abe Cabinet. Mr. Masayoshi Yoshino will continue to serve as Minister for Reconstruction, and as a minister hailing from the affected region of Fukushima Prefecture I expect that he will adopt a hands-on approach that is attentive to local wishes as a means of realizing reconstruction.

This year has been one in which natural disasters have struck various regions of Japan in succession, including the torrential rains in northern Kyushu last month. Under such circumstances, it is also important to engage in nationwide disaster prevention and mitigation measures, along with advancing recovery and reconstruction. Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii will continue in his role by building on his achievements.

I have asked Mr. Hachiro Okonogi to serve as Minister of State for Disaster Management and Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission. This is Mr. Okonogi’s first Cabinet position. He has demonstrated his abilities in crisis management to date both in the LDP and in the Diet.

A total of six ministers are receiving a Cabinet position for the first time. I expect that this Cabinet will demonstrate the creative power and ability to achieve breakthrough that is unique to its junior and mid-level members.

I hope that Mr. Masaji Matsuyama will leverage his experience of corporate management to shape strategies that will open up a path to the future for the Japanese economy, in such areas as innovation, information technology and intellectual property strategy.

I have asked Mr. Tetsuma Esaki, who has served as chair of the Special Committee on Consumer Affairs, to assume the post of Minister for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety. I would also like him to devote his energies to Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, which are immediate priority challenges for this administration. Together with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is in charge of alleviating the impact of bases in Okinawa, I hope that he will make every effort in developing Okinawa which is full of potential, while considering the wishes of the people of Okinawa.

The LDP is a treasure trove of talent.

I believe that in this reshuffle I have been able to gather together a pool of talent replete with expertise and practical ability in various fields, while also ensuring a balance across all age groups.

Ms. Seiko Noda will serve in the key Cabinet position of Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications and as Minister in charge of Women’s Empowerment. Ms. Noda was first elected at the same time as me, and together we have experienced difficult times during the two occasions that the LDP lost the reins of government. She also never hesitates to tell me home truths that may be difficult to hear.

When we retook the reins of government and the ruling parties were making concerted efforts to create structures to break through the crisis that we faced, I asked Ms. Noda to serve as the chairperson of the General Council of the LDP, one of the three party executive positions. I would now like her to help support the administration as a member of the Cabinet.

Looking back to the situation five years ago, it was also the case then that the public were deeply skeptical of politics overall, including the LDP. This administration made a start in the midst of rising public distrust.

Achieving results one by one is the way to restore public trust in politics. Based on this belief we have fully endeavored to respond to challenges at home and overseas, underpinned by the stable political foundation provided by the LDP and Komeito.

It is imperative that all Cabinet members recall the strong sense of mission and heightened degree of urgency that we felt when the government changed and look back once more to that starting point.

By gathering together a broad range of people from within the party I believe that I have been able to assemble a team that can concentrate fully on its tasks and produce results for the people of Japan.

This new Cabinet is a results-oriented “Cabinet of doers.”

By listening to the people of Japan and working together with them we will advance politics. We will also ensure that we produce results. This is what I am resolved to do and I ask for the understanding, cooperation and support of the people of Japan.

I will end my opening statement here.

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