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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, October 29, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Policy Speech by the Prime Minister to the 181st Session of the Diet
  • The TPP
  • The submission of letters of resignation to the DPJ by two house of representatives members

REPORTER: Prime Minister Noda delivered his policy speech earlier today at the plenary session of the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister emphasized and repeatedly used the phrase "responsibility towards tomorrow." Could you share with us the message that Cabinet intended to deliver through this speech?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase "responsibility towards tomorrow," which the Prime Minister also used in the lead-up to the recent leadership election. Prime Minister Noda views this as a very important principle and during today's speech he identified six issues that need to be addressed in order to fulfill our responsibility towards tomorrow. The title of the speech for the Prime Minister's election used the phrase "successful reconstruction following the earthquake and restoring hope and pride to Japan." Since then it has become clear that paving the way for economic revitalization in Japan will also lead to reconstruction from the earthquake, and I believe that in terms of fulfilling responsibility, economic recovery is an area in which Prime Minister Noda is fully consumed. I also believe that it is clear to those who have heard or read the speech that this was the focus of the talk. The Prime Minister has developed the Comprehensive Strategy for the Rebirth of Japan in order to break out of deflation and revitalize the economy; a strategy that he is currently implementing, and in today's speech Prime Minister Noda summarized all his initiatives. In this sense, responsibility towards tomorrow was the main theme of the speech.

REPORTER: In concluding his speech, Prime Minister Noda stated that no resolution can derive from extremes. In light of the recent political climate, the statement may be interpreted as the Prime Minister's way of presenting his opinion that there has been a trend toward favoring quick solutions by resorting to extreme measures. How do you personally view this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Towards the end of the speech Prime Minister Noda used the word "moderation." The Government is not here to indicate on which side of politics it belongs, however, I am aware that phrases like "center-liberal" have been used in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The Prime Minister used the word moderation in his speech today to indicate that as the Prime Minister he is reluctant to pursue extreme views or simple but unfeasible ideas. I believe that this was what the Prime Minister was trying to convey by using the word "moderation."

REPORTER: I would like to ask how the Government views the fact that Prime Minister Noda was not able to deliver the speech at the plenary session for the House of Councillors.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have heard this was the first time in the Diet's history that this has occurred. It has always been customary to deliver the policy speech in both houses and that has always been the case in the past. Therefore, from the Government's perspective this was very disappointing. However, the different houses have different opinions so I do not wish to comment any further.

REPORTER: In today's speech, Prime Minister Noda expressed his intention to push for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Does the Noda Cabinet have any specific schedule or procedures in mind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: You may have been able to understand this if you had read the speech transcript a little more carefully. However, the speech tried to convey the message that the Government will promote simultaneously and in parallel the TPP, the China-Japan-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with priority first and foremost given to the interests of the nation with the premise that the Government will protect that which needs to be protected. Therefore, the Prime Minister was not speaking about any particular schedule or procedure; he was merely expressing the same basic stance he has maintained since it was first made public in a press conference last year.

REPORTER: Precisely, Chief Cabinet Secretary, ever since the Government announced in November of last year that Japan will enter into consultations toward participating in the negotiations, it has continued to use this language. At today's extraordinary Diet session, the Prime Minister once again stated that Japan will be promoting the TPP. Beyond what is written in the policy speech and what was unveiled today, are there any initiatives which are being planned that would specifically back up this announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe it will be an extension of what we have been doing to date, which is collecting a variety of information, disclosing all of the information that we are aware of to everyone, and conducting discussions. At the same time, I understand that in some respects this process is slightly at a standstill at the moment due in part to the presidential election in the United States.

REPORTER: Regarding a different matter, today, House of Representatives member Kumada and House of Representatives member Mizuno from the DPJ submitted their letters of resignation to the DPJ Secretary General's office. What are your thoughts on this? Also, there is now talk about the DPJ becoming a minority ruling party or losing its majority (in the House of Representatives). If the DPJ loses six more seats, that is, if six more DPJ members leave the party, the DPJ will become a minority ruling party. What impact do you think this will have on the running of the administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am not yet fully aware of the details as to, for example, why the letters of resignation were submitted. Nonetheless, I do understand that the letters were submitted. This is very regrettable. As to how the party will deal with this and what it will be doing, these are matters to be discussed going forward. The fact is that right now, I do not really know any more than this. It is very regrettable as it was the day of the policy speech when we should all be working together and in solidarity.

REPORTER: Going back to the policy speech, I believe the speech also touched on items that will be quite difficult to achieve without the cooperation of the opposition parties, including the bill on special provisions concerning issuance of  government bonds and the reform of the electoral system. In terms of asking for the cooperation of the opposition parties, do you believe the message in the policy speech was sufficient?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe it is not up to us or the side giving the policy speech to judge whether it was or was not sufficient. I believe it was with much earnest that we urged for the cooperation of all Diet members.

REPORTER: Related to this, I believe the opposition parties are demanding that in order for them to cooperate, the Prime Minister further clarify what he means by his commitment to "dissolve (the House of Representatives) in the near term." I believe the policy speech hardly discussed the dissolution. In preparing the policy speech, how much consideration was given to the commitment made between political parties to conduct the dissolution "in the near term"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It did not even cross our minds - the Government's and the Cabinet's - to include elections and such matters in the policy speech to be delivered by the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the decision to carry out the dissolution is under the exclusive authority of the Prime Minister. Therefore, those around him did not say this or that should be done with regard to the dissolution.

REPORTER: However, it says in the provisions of the Constitution is that the decision to carry out the dissolution is up to the Cabinet, and I believe that the government administration will to some extent be regulated by the commitment made by the Prime Minister, the head of the Cabinet. Do you believe that the policy speech was able to present a roadmap for the dissolution on the basis of the Prime Minister's commitment? Do you believe that the policy speech clearly presented what steps should be taken in the form of a roadmap?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: What should be done - this was set out in the policy speech, which laid out a number of priorities that the Government must pursue to fulfill our responsibility towards tomorrow.

REPORTER: I have one more question. I believe quite a number of pages were allocated to economic measures. In this context, with regard to the supplementary budget, while the Government recently decided to use 400 billion yen in reserve funds to advance economic measures, the policy speech did not mention the formulation of the supplementary budget for the economic measures to come. What was the reason that the policy speech could not mention this, and what are the Government's current intentions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As of now, as I have stated repeatedly, first, last Friday, in line with the (Prime Minister's) instructions for (a decision on the first round of economic measures by) the end of October, the Government decided to use more than 400 billion yen in reserve funds to carry out programs, which are necessary for the time being, worth 750 billion yen. Next, as was instructed already on October 17, the work will now get underway to compile the next round of economic measures by the end of November. As for the supplementary budget, we have continuously stated that the budget must be established by the end of this fiscal year. The supplementary budget will be established based on the timely and appropriate judgments of the financial situation or economic circumstances. We are not saying that we will not establish the supplementary budget.

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