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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, May 20, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Ministerial Council on Agriculture
  • Cooperation between Japan and India in the field of nuclear power
  • The elimination of childcare waiting lists
  • The appointment of the President of Japan Post

REPORTER: Chief Cabinet Secretary, I understand that at this afternoon's gathering of the Government and ruling parties you noted on the launch of the Ministerial Council on Agriculture. Can you please elaborate on the members this council will comprise and the objective of its establishment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In accordance with the Prime Minister's instructions, a headquarters is expected to be established. The Prime Minister will serve as its Chair, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and I will serve as the Deputy Chairs, and key Cabinet members will serve as the members. Based on the discussions which have taken place so far at the Industrial Competitiveness Council, the headquarters aims to examine a wide range of bold measures to ensure that the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries and communities will develop sustainably in the future as a source of vitality for Japan.


REPORTER: Changing the subject slightly, some media have reported that Japan and India are coordinating to include in their joint statement, to be released on the occasion of the bilateral summit meeting scheduled to take place at the end of May in Japan, a statement regarding the countries' intention to hold formal consultations for the conclusion of a nuclear power agreement. Can you verify the facts? Can you also explain once again if this will be one of the themes on the agenda of the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A Japan-India summit meeting will be held at the end of this month. With regard to how the matter of the Japan-India nuclear power agreement will be dealt with in the meeting, this is currently being explored and nothing has been decided yet.

REPORTER: Regarding the export of nuclear power technology, India has an objective to increase the number of nuclear power stations in the country, while Japan has expectations towards exporting nuclear power technology, especially among the Japanese business community. Are you saying that this could be a theme on the agenda of the summit meeting if domestic circumstances permit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, we recognize that as a country that experienced a nuclear accident, it is Japan's duty to share with the world our insight and lessons learned regarding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident and contribute to the increased safety of nuclear power across the world. Furthermore, even after the nuclear accident in 2011, India has expressed a strong hope at a high level of government to conclude a nuclear power agreement with Japan. With regard to strengthening the Japan-India strategic and global partnership, the Japanese Government deemed that there is significance to having nuclear cooperation with India based on a comprehensive review of individual matters, such as our bilateral relations, and from the perspective of coping with climate change and global warming. Japan's basic view at this time is to continue to hold negotiations with India.

REPORTER: Regarding the Yokohama Method, today, Yokohama City announced that the number of children on its waiting lists for childcare facilities is now zero. As part of its growth strategy, the Abe administration has set forth a plan to eliminate childcare waiting lists. Yokohama City also happens to be your hometown. Can you please share your views or impressions regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I was once a member of the Yokohama City Council. Childcare waiting lists was a mind boggling challenge. In 2010, the number of children on waiting lists in Yokohama was 1,552 - the most in Japan. However, by taking bold and detailed measures, a waiting list of zero children has been achieved in three years. I believe this is the result of the enormous efforts put in by Yokohama Mayor Ms. Hayashi, we the Liberal Democratic Party Yokohama City Council delegation, and others from the zero childcare waiting list campaign. The zero number announced today was achieved, in particular through the bold establishment of certified childcare facilities, including by stock companies. In addition, Yokohama has established its own subsidy guidelines and an ordinance regarding Yokohama Nursery Rooms, which I was also involved in. Furthermore, there are programs like "childcare moms" and kindergarten childcare services, which began to be implemented when I was a member of the City Council. I believe that the figure of zero which was announced today was achieved because both organizations and operators of childcare services have also taken detailed responses. Yokohama City, a city of 3.7 million people, was able to achieve zero children on waiting lists. It goes to show that if efforts are made, this can be accomplished. Therefore, the Cabinet will refer to Yokohama's method to scale up such initiatives on a national basis as much as possible. In addition, we will make efforts to drastically expand our child-rearing support policy, including expanding the number of children accepted into childcare facilities by 200,000 in two years and 400,000 in five years. We have persistently called for the employment of women. In this sense, I believe there is critical significance to scaling up the zero children on waiting lists campaign on a national basis.


REPORTER: A short while ago the Chairman of the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) held a press conference and noted that the appointment of the President of Japan Post Holdings Co., Ltd. may be criticized as an autocratic move by the shareholders. What do you think about this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that is completely off the mark. As the Government owns 100 percent of the stocks of Japan Post, I believe it is the Government's responsibility to select the best manager for the people. On the question of whether things will go well if the management of the biggest company in Japan is left up to a bureaucrat through "amakudari" (the practice of civil servants obtaining posts in related organizations after retirement) which the people have criticized to date, I believe the answer is obvious. I believe it is natural that the Government, as a 100 percent shareholder, entrusts this position to an individual from the private sector who has a wealth of experience.


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