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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, February 14, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
  • Japan-ROK relations
  • Takeshima Day on February 22
  • The GDP for the October-December quarter
  • The TPP

REPORTER: Yesterday, the (Foreign Affairs and Judicial Affairs) Divisions of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) approved Japan's participation in the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. New Komeito Chief Representative Yamaguchi has also made forward-looking statements. Will Mr. Abe be touching on this situation in his upcoming meeting with President Obama? What is the Government's take on the prospects ahead?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that this took place within the party yesterday. Yesterday, the Prime Minister, too, stated in his response to questions asked at the Budget Committee meeting that he recognizes that it remains unchanged that the conclusion of the Hague Convention is very important to Japan. And with a view to concluding the Hague Convention at an early date, the relevant ministries, agencies, and others are currently working closer together. While I do not know if this matter will be raised during the Japan-United States (U.S.) summit meeting, we are now taking the steps to be able to provide a thorough response. 

REPORTER: The Government is readying to submit the proposal as early as March…

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is the current goal. However, in any case, the relevant ministries and agencies are now making the utmost preparations to be able to conclude the convention at an early date.

REPORTER: It has been reported that Mr. Aso and Mr. Kishida will be dispatched to the inauguration ceremony of the President of the Republic of Korea (ROK). Can you please explain the status of the Government's considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on the recognition that the inauguration ceremony of the ROK President is critically important also for Japan, arrangements are still being made as to who will be attending from Japan. This has not been decided. Considerations are being made towards selecting someone who will be a suitable representative of Japan.

REPORTER: Does this mean that there is no mistake that the Government intends to dispatch a minister or Cabinet member?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Considerations are being made without any limitation in that regard.

REPORTER: On February 22, I believe there will be a Takeshima Day ceremony hosted by Shimane Prefecture. What is the Government's response to this? During the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), I recall that a Senior Vice Minister attended. Has the Government decided who to dispatch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Was that the case during the DPJ administration? I was not aware of that. The Government is currently studying or reviewing our response.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the gross domestic product (GDP). According to the announcement of the Cabinet Office, the GDP for the October-December quarter decreased by 0.1% compared to the previous quarter in real terms. Can you tell me the Government's view regarding the fall in GDP for the third consecutive quarter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes. The real growth rate decreased by 0.4% compared to the previous quarter at an annualized rate, and the nominal growth rate decreased by 1.8%. However, I believe the extent of the decline is contracting. As for the causes, while domestic demand appears to be firm in some sectors, exports continued to decline due to the slowdown of the world economy and the strong yen, and capital investment also decreased. However, with regard to the prospects, while the economy will remain weak for the time being, I believe we can expect to see the policy impacts of the monetary easing of the Bank of Japan and the emergency economic measures as well as a moderate recovery of the world economy. Therefore, I believe the Japanese economy will see a moderate recovery.


REPORTER: I would like to ask two questions regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Some news reports state that the Prime Minister has decided he will announce Japan's participation in the negotiations as early as in March. Can you verify the facts? My other question is, yesterday, the LDP Research Commission on Regional Diplomatic and Economic Partnership decided on a basic policy regarding TPP negotiation participation, and I believe today Chairman Eto was here to hand the policy to the Prime Minister. Can you describe the Government's thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding your first question, the Prime Minister has responded to questions many times at the Budget Committee meeting regarding his basic stance. Japan will not join the TPP negotiations as long as a precondition is the abolition of customs tariffs without considering any areas to be off-limits. This is the public pledge made by LDP. Also, when we formed a coalition government with New Komeito, we agreed to pursue the optimal path forward that serves the national interests. This is the fundamental view, and nothing has changed. (Abridged) I was also there with the Prime Minister. As (the basic policy) was decided by the Research Commission, which represents the LDP, we will take it seriously. 


REPORTER: Yesterday, the European Union (EU) and the U.S. Government agreed to commence negotiations towards the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA). What is the Japanese Government's comment regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The world is moving toward the formation of FTAs, economic partnership agreements (EPAs), and such partnerships. In this context, the basic policy of Japan is promotion of free trade. Therefore, Japan is no different in that our basic policy is to form such partnerships with the U.S., Europe, and others in view of Japan's future, while safeguarding our national interests.

REPORTER: Japan is holding consultations with the EU aimed at entering into EPA negotiations. What is the current status of the arrangements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I cannot answer with regard to what is going on at the moment. However, I understand that efforts are being made to set up an environment to that end.

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