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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, October 14, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I will give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. Four general items as well as treaty and Cabinet order promulgations and personnel decisions were approved. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning the findings of the study on reducing the burden of users related to official tests, credentialing exams, etc. as well as the implementation of Government Consultation Services Week. Prime Minister Noda made a statement concerning acting Ministers while Ministers in charge are on an overseas visit.

Also, prior to the Cabinet meeting, today, a meeting of the Aging Society Policy Council was held. At today's meeting, it was decided to review the General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aging Society which was approved by the Cabinet on December 2001 and to establish new General Principles by the end of this fiscal year. In addition, to facilitate the creation of the draft General Principles, it was decided that experts' opinions will be heard under Minister Renho regarding basic approaches for promoting measures for an aging society. For details on this matter, please direct your questions to officials in charge of Policies on Cohesive Society of the Cabinet Office.



REPORTER:Changing the subject, I have a question concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). At your press conference yesterday, you said that the healthcare sector will be minimally impacted. As for the reason, you gave the fact that the healthcare sector has not been brought up at the discussions of the TPP preparations meetings. However, my understanding is that in principle there is nothing that is off-limits with TPP. Then, do you not intend to consider the impact on those items which have not been raised at the discussions of the preparation meetings?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As of right now at least, particularly the current topics of the healthcare sector, including the lifting of the ban on mixing medical treatments which are covered by health insurance with those which are not, as well as the entrance of for-profit companies into the healthcare sector, have not been discussed during the TPP Agreement negotiations to date. That is the latest information. Also, free trade agreements (FTAs) between the countries participating in the TPP Agreement negotiations specify that in the financial services sector, public medical and insurance systems do not apply. My understanding is that as of right now, public medical and insurance systems have not been part of the discussions during the TPP Agreement negotiations. This is why I responded the way I did yesterday. If Japan is to participate in the negotiations and the healthcare sector was to be even a small part of the negotiations, the Japanese Government will of course ensure that this will not impair our reassuring and safe healthcare.

REPORTER:You touched on this just now, but in the event that Japan decided to participate in the TPP preparation meetings and in the negotiations, is it possible that the content of the discussions itself will change drastically with Japan's participation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:No, I do not really envision that. The preparation meetings, etc. have been conducted all throughout until now. I imagine the discussions will be an extension of previous discussions.

REPORTER:Regarding a related matter, I believe there are some new pharmaceuticals in the healthcare sector for which Japan has a higher level of standards than international standards regarding a variety of factors, such as the length of time required for approval. When Japan participates in the negotiations, is there no possibility that this matter will be taken up in the discussions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I do not deny 100% that this is a possibility. In fact, in Japan, right now, the Office for Promotion of Medical Innovation has started actively examining the issue of drug lag and device lag and Japan's longer screening period and stricter regulations compared with other countries in the context of promoting medical innovation with Japan's strengths. Indeed, this is something that Japan would like to promote moving forward with much greater speed.


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