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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, November 14, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The analysis on the GDP figures announced by the Cabinet Office.
  • The issue related to the special intelligence protection bill
  • The issues related to the situation in the Philippines affected by the typhoon
  • The issue related to taxation on electronic books and music distributed online in Japan via overseas business

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the GDP figures announced by the Cabinet Office. Preliminary July to September figures have been released and show an increase of 0.5% over the last quarter which is equivalent to a 1.9% annual growth rate. Compared to the growth of the previous April to June quarter of 3.8%, growth rates have slowed substantially. What reasons does the Government attribute to this change?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As was mentioned in the question, the July to September annualized growth rate was 1.9%, meaning that we have had four consecutive quarters of growth. Domestic demand is still steadily picking up pace so the economy remains on a recovery track. On the other hand, compared to the April to June growth of 3.8%, the growth rate of the latest quarter has slowed down. I believe that this may be attributed to fewer exports for the first time in the last three quarters due to decreased demand in some developing nations, which has led to a subsequent decrease in foreign demand. I think it was influenced by such factors. Regarding the prospects, given that domestic demands including consumption remain steady, we expect that the economy will continue to trend positively toward recovery. The Government will continue to implement Abenomics and its three prongs of economic policy to break out of deflation and achieve economic revitalization as early as possible.

REPORTER: With regard to GDP from July through September, while consumer spending remained steady, growth was sluggish. Some people believe that rising of share prices which supported growth in consumer spending has ceased t. Recently, Nikkei stock price averages have hovered between 13,000 and 14,000 without ever reaching 15,000. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think I should refrain from commenting on the stock market. However, consumer prices have been increasing steadily and the expected inflation rate for household budgets is exhibiting an upward trend. In terms of wages, due to the moderate growth of manufacturing, overtime wages and bonuses are increasing for the first time in three years, and considering this I think that the real economy is improving.

REPORTER: Please allow me to ask another question on this topic. Despite the depreciation of the yen, exports are decreasing. Why do you think that is?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Exports to Asian nations excluding China have decreased due to reduced demand from some developing nations. Additionally, Thailand has ceased its vehicle subsidy program, while I believe there may have been temporary factors such as transplant production of Japanese vehicles to U.S. factories. However, looking at the broader picture of overseas supply, we are seeing steady growth and I anticipate that the effect of the yen's depreciation will continue to have a positive influence and therefore exports will eventually turn around and recover.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the special intelligence protection bill. During the committee meeting held earlier today, Minister of State Mori expressed her intention to review the scheme, which would include how special intelligence is designated, after the special intelligence protection bill has been passed. It seems to me that revising the bill after it has been passed is akin to admitting that the bill is flawed. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that this is at all true. After gaining Cabinet approval, the Government has submitted the bill to the Diet with the conviction that it is the best it can be. However, it is now up to the Diet to approve or reject the bill and we are doing everything we can to ensure that our bill will pass. If Minister Mori did make such comment, I think that, in a sense, it is only natural for a bill to undergo continuous review during implementation after it is passed, and the same goes for any bill. We believe that naturally the Government should carefully examine the bill while listening to the opinions expressed during Diet deliberations. This is not only applicable to the bill we are talking about; the need for continuous review for passed bills in the implementation stage is applicable to any bill.

REPORTER: It is believed that internal documents concerning intellectual property rights pertaining to the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been leaked via WikiLeaks. How does the Japanese Government view this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I must refrain from commenting on this on behalf of the Government and we will not discuss any details concerning negotiations.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question about the disaster in the Philippines. If you have any updates regarding the confirmation of the safety of those affected, would you be able to share them with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I will first provide you with an update of the situation. As of yesterday evening, 50 Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel have arrived in Manila and a KC-767 transport aircraft transported medical supplies and other goods from Manila to Cebu Island. Of the approximately 50 people who arrived in Manila, 20 medical personnel will today be flown to Cebu Island in a Philippine military support aircraft and commence provision of medical services. Additionally, three SDF personnel are presently traveling with a staff member of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines in a U.S. military aircraft to Tacloban on Leyte Island, which was the hardest hit region. In light of requests made by the Philippine Government, the Japanese Government is planning to provide transportation support and other assistance by deploying a Joint Task Force comprised of maximum 1,000 personnel. The early dispatching team of three personnel, that arrived in Tacloban in the afternoon of November 12, is currently engaged in discussions with the Philippine Government to secure main troops' accommodation places which act as their base of operations. Additionally, the 22 members of medical team arrived in Ormoc on Leyte Island in the morning of November 13 and are exploring the possibility of traveling to Tacloban while assessing the safety of the situation. As for the safety of Japanese nationals, since yesterday afternoon's press conference, we have confirmed the safety of an additional nine people as of this point in time. This means that of the 133 Japanese nationals on Leyte and Samar Islands who were registered with the local Japanese Embassy, 49 people have been confirmed to be safe. However, telecommunications in the affected region are still very limited. I have been informed that the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines, in addition to the Japan Disaster Relief Medical Team, are doing everything they can to confirm the safety of Japanese nationals.

REPORTER: I have asked this question before, but I would like to once again ask about imposing consumption tax on electronic books and music distributed online in Japan via foreign businesses such as Amazon.com. Am I right to understand that the imposition of sales tax on those items will not yet be starting from April? Could you also tell us if they will be subject to sales tax by the time the consumption tax rate is raised to 10%?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government Tax Commission is currently discussing consumption tax on foreign electronic books and other items that you mentioned now. We have tasked the Commission with engaging in earnest discussions to realize appropriate and fair taxation. We are determined to build an appropriate and fair taxation system as soon as possible.


REPORTER: On a related topic, with regard to the deployment of 1,000 SDF personnel, I understand that the Japanese Government has not yet been able to send that many people to the Philippines, but could you share with us some more details about the status of preparations, such as the progress of arrangements with the Philippines and what is preventing immediate deployment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not know the actual details, but we will only deploy SDF personnel upon the request of the Philippine Government. I have however been informed that the Philippine Government has requested us strongly on this matter.

REPORTER: Are you able to tell us what exactly has been communicated between the two Governments and why immediate deployment is not possible?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As far as I am aware, the affected areas are still very much in a state of confusion. As of this point in time, approximately 50 SDF personnel have arrived in the Philippines. We are proceeding forward while we coordinate with those personnel.

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