Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  December 2013 >  Tuesday, December 10, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

The meeting of the Headquarters on Creating Dynamism through Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Industries and Local Communities was held from 2:00 pm today, chaired by Prime Minister Abe. The Headquarters today decided on the Plan to Create Vitality for Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Industries and Local Communities, which forms the grand design for the reform of agricultural policies of the Abe Cabinet. Under this plan the aim is to double the overall income of agricultural industries and communities over the next ten years, by means of such measures as those to expand new demand through the promotion of exports, improve added value through the promotion of the sixth industry market, enhance productivity through the consolidation of farmland, and review the system of production adjustment that has been in use for more than 40 years. The Abe Cabinet will steadily implement these measures, seeking to realize major reforms of the agricultural administration. The Prime Minister, who chairs the Headquarters, also stated that the Government will work to steadily implement the measures contained in this plan, with a view to doubling the overall income of agricultural industries and communities over the next ten years. He also noted that based on discussions in the Industrial Competitiveness Council and the Regulatory Reform Council, as well as opinions from the agricultural sector itself, the Government will also make every effort to engage in further reforms that are deemed necessary. The Prime Minister requested the continued cooperation of ministers concerned in ensuring that the outcomes of such agricultural policy reform are felt, naturally, by those involved in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, as well as the public as a whole. For further detailed information concerning the plan, please contact the Office of Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretaries, the Cabinet Secretariat.


  • The issues related to reform of agricultural policies
  • The issue related to the Act on the protection of Specially Designated Secrets
  • The issue related to the pressure on the content of press reports by Chinese authorities

REPORTER: I have a question on a matter related to your opening statement. You have just spoken about major reforms. I think the outlook of the price of rice, for example, continues to decline. On the other hand, as another example, there are many part-time farmers. How do you think these issues should be consolidated?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Under the auspices of what I believe will be called the Farmland Intermediate Management Institution, the size of farmland will be enlarged through consolidation, thereby raising their productivity. I think that through these reforms, the Government will create a robust system that will enable a shift in the agricultural industry itself to become more aggressive; so-called "agriculture on the offensive."

REPORTER: On a related note, you have just referred to the consolidation of farmland. The policies of the Abe administration have been extremely well-received in comparison to those of previous administrations, including the initiative for a farmland consolidation organization and the abolition of the rice acreage reduction policy after 40 years. However, there are still some experts who point out that regulation of the agricultural sector remain too strong and deeply entrenched, and also those who are calling for further deregulation, including allowing the purchase of agricultural land more freely so as to allow companies to enter the market. What are your thoughts concerning such points?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is expected that the Regulatory Reform Council will set out a direction for such issues by June next year. However, I think that the major turnaround of the rice acreage reduction policy that has been in operation for the last 40 years, as well as the individual income support allowance system, and the gradual abolition of these, will be truly at the core of agricultural reforms. In that sense I believe that in no way should we hesitate calling them major reforms and the Government will move to steadily implement the measures.

REPORTER: On a related note, you have spoken about the abolition of the rice acreage reduction policy, and while targets for the total national production of rice as well as individual income support allowances will also be abolished, the existing subsidies available for crop conversion will remain in place. I understand that a simulation by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries forecasts that under such a system, rice prices will not fall. However, there are also a significant number of people who consider that the proposed reforms, particularly the abolition of the rice acreage reduction policy, will lead to both a drop in the rice price and an increase in competition. In reality, do you believe that the rice price itself will drop?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: If farmland is enlarged and rice-cropping is conducted on a larger scale then I imagine that naturally competition would emerge. I think that the system will head in such a direction. At the same time, with regard to crop conversion, as food shortages are anticipated in the future, I believe that in light of this, the number of farmers looking to convert to other crops will also increase, including wheat and flour, or rice for animal feed. I think that in this way, the structure of the agricultural industry will develop into the form that it originally should have been.

REPORTER: With regard to Act on the protection of Specially Designated Secrets, I understand that in a meeting of the Board of the Liberal Democratic Party today, the Prime Minister stated that he seeks to provide thorough explanations and resolve misunderstanding about the Act. Are we to understand from this statement that the Prime Minister, or the Abe administration, recognizes that the concerns the public have about the Act are because of misunderstanding about its content?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is exactly the case. As the Prime Minister himself stated in his press conference yesterday, all kinds of things that have absolutely nothing to do with the aim of this Act have been reported as fact - for example, that directors will no longer be able to make films, the screening of past films will be banned, or that photos of an Osprey aircraft sent by mail will be designated as special intelligence. In light of this, we believe it is necessary to provide thorough explanations to the public about the reality. If the people of Japan are provided with a proper explanation I believe that they will undoubtedly agree with the content of the Act.


REPORTER: The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, the members of which are foreign journalists residing in China from more than 40 countries, has issued a statement calling for improvement in the response of the Chinese authorities, which is putting pressure on the content of press reports through such measures as denying visa applications. It has long been the case that requests for coverage of the Tibet Autonomous Region and other matters are rarely approved. Can I ask for your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of press reports on this matter. The Government of Japan believes that basic freedoms, including respect for human rights and freedom of expression are universal values in the international community, and naturally it is our recognition that it is of the utmost importance for such values to be upheld in China as well. The Government will continue to respond to the matter with interest.

Page Top

Related Link