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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, July 25, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • Prime Minister's plan to visit Miyagi Prefecture

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to read out the following concerning the Prime Minister's schedule:

Next week, on Monday July 29, the Prime Minister is planning to visit earthquake-affected areas in Miyagi Prefecture to inspect the current state of reconstruction. More specifically, the Prime Minister will visit the public housing for disaster victims in Ishinomaki City that was completed in June this year and has now started accepting residents. A regional integrated care project is being conducted in Ishinomaki City. The project is run with the cooperation of multiple industries including the health care, nursing and welfare industries to provide health care services to elderly residents living in temporary housing. The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the Kaisei Integrated Care Center, which will serve as the base of the project. In Minami Sanriku Town, the Prime Minister will visit the Minamisanriku Sun Sun Shopping Village. Afterwards, the Prime Minister will then visit a temporary medical center, which was established to provide medical services for the area after the Shizugawa Public Hospital was destroyed by the tsunami.


  • Prime Minister's plan to visit Miyagi Prefecture
  • The detection of dioxin from barrels discovered at the former site of the Kadena base
  • The comfort women issue
  • A new partnership between Japan Post and Aflac
  • The TPP
  • Child abuse

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to your opening statement. You just mentioned that the Prime Minister will visit a care center and a medical center, so do you expect that there will be an opportunity for the Prime Minister to exchange words with disaster victims and with patients being treated at the medical center?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister will be visiting those places himself and as he is always keen to listen and hear the direct opinions of people, particularly those from affected areas, I would have to assume that this indeed will happen.


REPORTER: Levels of dioxin exceeding environmental standards have been detected inside barrels discovered under Okinawa City's soccer ground built on the former site of the Kadena base. Could you share with us if the Government intends to make any inquiries to the U.S. military to identify the cause, and could you also tell us how the Government is going to address the issue and how it will conduct decontamination efforts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is the first I have heard of this but if something like that was indeed found, I believe that it is only natural for the Government to make a request in order to address the concerns of residents.

REPORTER: When you say make a request, do you mean ask the U.S. military?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, that is correct. If what you said is found to be true, I believe that it is only natural that we make such requests.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the "comfort women" issue. The Glendale City Council, California in the U.S. approved plans to erect a statue on private property of a young woman representing the "comfort women" of the Japanese Army. While some locals support this plan saying that it is necessary to pass on the memories of horrible wartime atrocities, local residents of Japanese descent and the public in Japan believe that the statue is about to be installed based on an incorrect understanding of history that labels Japan as the sole perpetrator. They believe that the statue will damage Japan's reputation and honor. Do you have any knowledge of this issue concerning the statue of the comfort woman?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is aware of the decision by the Glendale City Council. The Japanese Government has made efforts via the local Consulate General of Japan to gain their understanding of the views of the Japanese Government, and the initiatives the Government has made so far, by providing an appropriate explanation to the city of Glendale, its mayor and other relevant local residents.

REPORTER: I understand that the Government is undertaking those actions but does the Government have any intention of asking the city to have the plan to install the statue canceled?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have been trying to convey the views of the Japanese Government to the concerned parties. Based on our policy that we should not turn the "comfort women" issue into a political or diplomatic issue, the Japanese Government has sought from parties relevant to the City of Glendale, including the Mayor and city council members, understanding for an appropriate response.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding Japan Post. Japan Post has finalized its policy to partner with Aflac (American Family Life Assurance Company) to provide cancer insurance products. Could you please share with us your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: You must be referring to American Family Life Assurance Company, and I believe there was a major news report on this today. Initiatives are being undertaken in order to allow the public to experience the benefits of the privatization of the postal system, by way of improved convenience, and to also improve the corporate value of Japan Post so that the Government can secure funds for the reconstruction finances. I expect that these initiatives will ultimately achieve our goals.

REPORTER: The report also said that this partnership may influence the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Could you share with us your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan's position on TPP negotiations and the parallel Japan-U.S. negotiations is to make full use of its negotiating power to protect those areas that should be protected and seek to gain what should be gained. There has been no change in our determination to exert every effort in achieving the best possible outcome for the nation during the TPP negotiations.

REPORTER: I have a question on the same topic. I believe that in the past, Japan Post considered providing cancer insurance products in cooperation with Japanese insurance companies. However, the cancer insurance product market is currently dominated by foreign insurance companies and Japan Post has decided to partner with Aflac. Am I correct to understand that behind this decision is some kind of power relationship with the U.S. that has been arranged as TPP negotiations are taking place?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that the decision made was simply a business decision. I understand that Japan Post chose to partner with the company that would be most advantageous for its business. I believe that it was a normal business decision.


REPORTER: I believe that today a preliminary report was released that revealed the number of cases in 2012 where child consultation centers across Japan provided services following consultation requests or reports of child abuse rose to a record 67,000. I believe that in some cases, children died from abuse after consultations took place. Could you share with us how the Government is planning to address this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the number of consultation requests has indeed increased, as have the Government's efforts to increase awareness of child abuse. I understand that the increase can in part be attributed to increased community awareness of child abuse, but on the other hand, I believe that the number of children thought to be subjected to abuse may also be increasing. Therefore, we must take this very seriously. As you mentioned, in some cases children died from abuse even after the involvement of child consultation centers. Therefore, we believe that we must strengthen the capabilities of the centers. The Government understands that we must implement seamless responses across each phase including abuse prevention, early discovery, ensuring fast response, and providing appropriate protection and support of children. To this end the Government must take the issue very seriously and make every effort to ensure that we will be able to guarantee this support.

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