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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 16, 2015 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The “Diet to carry out reforms”
  • The 20th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
  • The Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality

REPORTER: I understand that the dates of the next Diet session were decided during today’s meeting of the Committees on Rules and Administration of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. The Prime Minister has termed the next ordinary Diet session the “Diet to carry out reforms.” As the name indicates, a variety of matters will be deliberated, such as security legislation. Can you please once again explain what you are determined to accomplish during the next Diet session? Or, in other words, what will be the focal point of the next Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At today’s meeting of the Committees on Rules and Administration of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors, I requested that the ordinary Diet session be convened on the 26th of this month. As the Prime Minister stated during his press conference, the Abe administration intends to make the next Diet session the “Diet to carry out reforms,” with the economy as our top priority. We intend to submit the draft supplementary budget as early as the 26th and work to swiftly submit the draft regular budget for the next fiscal year. In addition, we intend to steadily submit the bills to reform the agricultural, medical, and energy sectors. We will work to get these bills passed quickly by of course coordinating with the ruling parties and obtaining the understanding of the opposition parties.   

REPORTER: Although your response did not touch on security legislation, I imagine that the Diet session could experience rough waters in the face of public opposition given all the troubles you ran into last year, including troubles with the consultations among the ruling parties. What is your outlook in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not that I avoided it. Rather, as you had already specifically mentioned security legislation, I did not touch upon it. I believe that is only natural. Be that as it may, as stated in the agreement of the ruling coalition following the election, we will work to swiftly submit and pass the bills related to security legislation. Therefore, the ruling parties will submit the bills to the Diet upon confirming the basic policy, and will work to deepen public understanding while conducting Diet deliberations.   

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, a topic which also came up during this morning’s press conference. You stated this morning that the Government will continue to draw on the lessons learned and experiences from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Last year, the Government established a basic policy on measures for major earthquakes. Is it your view that all possible and adequate preparations have been taken for a massive Tokyo Inland Earthquake, should one occur? Can you tell us what challenges remain, if any? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the Government has taken steps to strengthen our disaster countermeasures, including the earthquake-proofing of houses and buildings and the establishment of the Act on Support for Reconstructing Livelihoods of Disaster Victims. An example that illustrates this is that when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, not one Shinkansen bullet train derailed, even when the trains were travelling at speeds of over 300 km/h. This was the result of work to earthquake-proof columns and earthquake preparation measures to prevent train derailments. However, as I mentioned previously, in recent years natural disasters have become more severe and large-scale, including landslides due to torrential rains, heavy snowfall, and volcanic eruptions. We have been taking various measures to address this situation, including measures tailored to address different natural disaster scenarios, such as a massive Tokyo Inland Earthquake and a Nankai Trough Earthquake. In addition, we have been taking measures to counter heavy snowfall. For example, legislation for relocating abandoned vehicles was passed during the last Diet session. The Government is working with the relevant ministries and agencies to expand our pre-disaster risk reduction measures and to minimize damage. In this context, government-wide measures are being taken in light of the critical importance of fully protecting the lives and safety of the people. 

REPORTER: I have one more question. It looks as though a non-partisan group of Diet members will be sponsoring and submitting a bill to the next ordinary Diet session in order to designate March 11 as the Great East Japan Earthquake Day. What is the Government’s stance with regard to this bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Diet members will be sponsoring and submitting this bill, the Government would first like to watch over the related developments.

REPORTER: This morning, the Government announced the percentages of women in managerial positions in local public service. Although the figures are as of last April, the percentages were 7.2% at the prefecture level and 3.1% at the city, town, and village levels. In the case of national public servants, the percentage was 3.3% as of last September. We see that as of now, the local regions are ahead of the Government in terms of the percentage of women in managerial positions. Can you please share your opinions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to the promotion of female national public servants, the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality sets out the goal to increase the percentage of women in director and higher level ministry positions to around 5% by FY2015. Right now, the percentage stands at 3.3%. This percentage has risen steadily since Prime Minister Abe took over the government. It is also true that many women were hired in the process of recruiting national public servants for the next fiscal year. If the local regions are ahead of the Government as was announced, then the Government should follow their example and catch up to them. In order to facilitate the active role of women in society and realize a society in which all women shine, it is important to create an environment in which many female public servants can advance to higher positions and obtain managerial positions.  

REPORTER: I have a related question. Will you re-submit the bill for facilitating the active role of women in society that was rejected during last year’s extraordinary Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will of course re-submit the bill at the next Diet session and work to steadily create an environment that will facilitate active roles for women in society.

REPORTER: Yesterday, Chairman Sudo of Tokyo Electric Power Company paid you a visit. If you do not mind, can you tell us what you two discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Chairman visited to give his New Year’s greetings. That was all.

REPORTER: A related question. A short while ago, you stated that an energy reform bill will also be submitted to the next Diet session. According to some weekly magazines that went on sale today, the Prime Minister’s Office has suspicions about Mr. Sudo’s stance on reform and is leading efforts to oust him from his post as Chairman. Can you please comment on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There were news reports about this the other day. Over the last several days, I have stated clearly on various occasions that the report is erroneous. Mr. Sudo is healthy and is intent on carrying out reforms. The replacement of Mr. Sudo is inconceivable. The reports are erroneous.

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