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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, December 27, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The role of the Chief Cabinet Secretary
  • The LDP's campaign platform on the SDF
  • The Tokyo Exchange Market
  • Nuclear power related politics
  • The reinstatement of the administrative vice ministers' meeting
  • The Murayama Statement
  • Disseminating information by the Prime Minister to the public
  • The abduction issue
  • Crisis management posture during the year-end and New Year's holiday
  • The discretionary funds of the Cabinet Secretariat
  • The Kono Statement

REPORTER: The Second Abe Cabinet was inaugurated yesterday and began working in earnest today. I understand that yesterday during the first Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Abe instructed all cabinet members to work toward the three goals of economic revitalization, reconstruction and risk management. As Chief Cabinet Secretary what role would you like to take to achieve these goals?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister's instruction to all Cabinet members should be interpreted as a sign of our strong determination to revitalize the economy, progress reconstruction and improve risk management. I am aware that the Government is sometimes criticized for being vertically segmented, but as Chief Cabinet Secretary, I would like to do my best to ensure that the entire Cabinet works as one to pursue these goals so as to meet the expectations of the nation.

REPORTER: I understand that the campaign platform of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) clearly stated in its section on diplomacy that the party will augment the equipment and budget for the manpower of the Self-Defense Force, which have been declining. Additionally, Minister of Defense Onodera also made a comment to the same effect during a press conference last night. Does the Government have any intention to allocate additional funding for this purpose during next fiscal year's ordinary Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that promises made in the lead up to the election should be kept as a matter of course. This topic concerns budget allocation, and the Ministry of Defense, or the Minister of Defense, did make comments as you said, therefore we would like to have in-depth discussion as we formulate the budget.


REPORTER: It has been reported that the Nikkei Index recorded its highest level for the year this morning at the Tokyo Stock Exchange. I understand that this is a result of the market responding favorably to the inauguration of the Abe Government. How do you personally view these changes in the stock market?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think a rising stock market is better than a falling one, but regardless of the situation, we have always considered the severe appreciation of the yen and the task of breaking out of deflation as being matters that the party worked on with the highest priority ever since Prime Minister Abe assumed presidency of the party. Therefore, now we would like to work to overcome these issues with Mr. Abe as Prime Minister while strengthening cooperation with the Bank of Japan. As such, I do not wish to comment on any figures such as the stock market or foreign exchange rates.

REPORTER: Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Motegi did address this topic during his press conference early this morning, but I would like to ask two questions on nuclear power related policies. The minister stated that the Government will at its discretion determine whether nuclear power stations deemed safe by the Nuclear Regulation Authority are to be restarted. Am I right to understand this as the Cabinet reviewing the zero-nuclear policy of the Democratic Party of Japan and intending to put nuclear power stations deemed safe back into operation? Additionally, Minister Motegi also stated that the Government does not have the option of abandoning the nuclear fuel cycle project. Am I correct to understand that this is Cabinet policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Those comments were made by the minister responsible for the matters on which he was speaking, so I believe that he is speaking with authority on the topic. However, as we stated in our election campaign platform, safety is our highest priority. The matter has not yet gained Diet approval and I believe that it is crucial, and our responsibility, that the Government first gains Diet approval, or approval of both Houses, before making a start. Regardless, we would like to maintain safety as our highest priority as we proceed.


REPORTER: During yesterday's press conference you touched on the reinstatement of the administrative vice ministers' meetings. During the LDP administration, decisions to be made at Cabinet meetings had already been determined at the administrative vice ministers' meetings prior to Cabinet meetings. Could you tell us what the Government is planning to do in relation to this? Could you also share with us the ideal state of the relationship between politics and the public sector for the Abe administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Previously, agenda items that gained approval at the administrative vice ministers' meetings were tabled for Cabinet decisions. However, we believe that political decisions should be made by the Cabinet. Having said that, we also believe that when the Government advances that which has been decided, it is better that there is more communication and cooperation between ministries. If you were to only hear the name "administrative vice ministers' meeting" you may expect that the meetings will be as they were in the past. However, in contrast to this, I am thinking that these meetings could be regarded as a kind of liaison meetings.


REPORTER: During last night's press conference you expressed your intent to follow the Murayama Statement. However, the Prime Minister said in an interview with us that he would not be bound by statements such as these if he were to regain leadership. It appears that your view contradicts the Prime Minister's views. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While the first Abe Cabinet was in office, we officially announced our intent to succeed the stance taken by the Murayama Cabinet and therefore moving forward we will continue to take this position.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the Prime Minister's means of disseminating information. I believe that the previous Cabinet agreed to doorstepping interviews every day, but what is the current Government's view on doorstepping interviews? I would also like to ask if the Government is planning to utilize the internet.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Did the previous Cabinet agree to doorstepping interviews?

REPORTER: When I said previous, I was referring to the first Abe Cabinet.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: OK, you are talking about the Abe Cabinet. We do not have the intention of conducting doorstepping interviews. However, I believe that the Prime Minister will hold regular press conferences to ensure that information is made available to citizens as effectively as possible.

REPORTER: What about the use of the internet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding the internet, the Prime Minister is making good use of the internet, including Facebook, and our basic stance is that we will communicate to the nation the thoughts and views of the Prime Minister as much as possible.

REPORTER: During last night's press conference, Minister Furuya made a comment on the abduction issue using the phrase "complete resolution." Am I correct to understand that the current Government has positioned this abduction issue as the matter of highest priority?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As we know, Prime Minister Abe himself has been zealous in addressing this abduction issue to the point of staking his own political career. The Government will address this issue with the aim of attaining complete resolution, meaning that we will have all Japanese nationals returned without any left behind. This is our basic stance and we would like to unwaveringly put these words into action.


REPORTER: With respect to crisis management during the year-end and New Year's holiday, how will the roles be divided between the Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary in terms of dealing with crisis management at the Prime Minister's Office?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No matter what, either the Prime Minister or the Chief Cabinet Secretary will always be in Tokyo. As you never know what will happen - in Japan, of course, but also overseas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - we stand ready to take immediate responses. It is the basic policy that the Government takes thorough responses in order to ensure the security and safety of the people. Instructions to this effect were given yesterday by the Prime Minister to all Cabinet members - which were also asked about a short while ago. The Government will be taking thorough responses.

REPORTER: What is the schedule that is currently being arranged for the Prime Minister's winter holiday so to speak, or time to restore his energy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is still undecided. The Abe Cabinet was inaugurated yesterday after all. Given that the job of Prime Minister is highly demanding, I think it is better that Prime Minister Abe takes a half-decent vacation. I would like to recommend that the Prime Minister take time off. I will be in Tokyo the whole time.

REPORTER: Earlier, you stated that you would not comment on the exchange rate level. However, last week, Secretary-General Ishiba of the LDP stated on a television program that, "It is not the case that the weaker the yen the better. We need to think about how to keep the yen in around the 85 yen to 90 yen range." In light of this decision made by the party, how does the Government intend to execute policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, I believe the Government should refrain from commenting. Speaking on this basis, my view is that the yen appreciation was overly one-sided. It seems that the movement of the yen is coming to the point of being revised.


REPORTER: Regarding the discretionary funds of the Cabinet Secretariat, the previous Chief Cabinet Secretary has proposed in the form of a personal proposal that a Chief Cabinet Secretary decision is made, which calls on the disclosure of only the funds which meet certain circumstances after the passage of a certain length of time. What is your view on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the previous Chief Cabinet Secretary issued such a proposal. I would like to explore what kind of information disclosure is possible while maintaining the functions of the discretionary funds of the Cabinet Secretariat. In any case, I would like to move forward with the appropriate execution so that we do not arouse the displeasure of the public.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on the subject of the doorstepping interviews by the Prime Minister. What is the background or the reason that Prime Minister Abe will not be conducting the doorstepping interviews this time around, despite conducting the interviews every day at the time of his first Cabinet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What we would like to do is to properly disseminate information through all kinds of means, including the holding of press conferences from time to time, or now there is also Facebook. We would like to come up with better ways than the doorstepping interviews for disseminating information to the public. Therefore, we would like to pursue a different format than before.

REPORTER: Are there any disadvantages to holding daily doorstepping interviews that you have in mind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, it is not about advantages or disadvantages. The issue is how the opinions of the Prime Minister are disseminated accurately to the public. That is what we indeed believe is important. The idea is that it is more effective to hold press conferences and so on from time to time than the doorstepping interviews.


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