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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 15, 2016 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

(Abridged)

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At today’s Cabinet meeting, it was decided that His Majesty King Philippe, King of the Belgians and Her Majesty Queen Mathilde, Queen of the Belgians would be welcomed as state guests from October 11 to 14. During their stay in Japan, a welcome ceremony, a State Call on Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan, a State Banquet in honor of Their Majesties the King and Queen, among other activities are expected to take place. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Belgium. Furthermore, the Imperial Family of Japan and the Royal Family of Belgium have long enjoyed friendly exchanges. Japan and Belgium are also important partners that share fundamental values. More than 200 Japanese companies have businesses in Belgium, and in this regard, it is vital that bilateral relations are strengthened in a wide range of areas, including political and economic relations. We expect that the visit to Japan by Their Majesties the King and Queen will further deepen the friendship and cooperative relations that have been established between the two countries in a variety of areas.

Q&As

REPORTER: It has been reported that this morning, a nonpartisan group of National Assembly members of the Republic of Korea (ROK) landed on Takeshima. What information is the Government aware of at this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware of the reports that several members of the National Assembly of the ROK landed on Takeshima on the morning of the 15th. This is unacceptable in light of the Government of Japan’s position on sovereignty over Takeshima. In addition, it is extremely regrettable that they went ahead with this visit despite the Government of Japan’s prior protests and urgings to halt the visit. The Government of Japan immediately relayed this to the Government of the ROK, and once again lodged strong protests and urged against the recurrence of similar acts.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It was only recently that between the Governments of Japan and the ROK, the Japanese Government decided to contribute one billion yen to the foundation established by the ROK Government for providing support for former comfort women. I gather that steps are just beginning to be taken towards improving Japan-ROK relations. What impact do you foresee this landing by members of the ROK National Assembly having on future Japan-ROK relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, with regard to the one billion yen, the landing is unacceptable in light of the Government of Japan’s position on sovereignty over Takeshima and is extremely regrettable. In any case, we consider it extremely important that the agreement on the comfort women issue reached at the end of last year is implemented responsibly by Japan and the ROK, respectively.

REPORTER: Preliminary estimates of the April-June GDP were announced. Real GDP increased by an annualized rate of 0.2%, recording positive growth for the second consecutive quarter. However, the growth margin remained small. Can you please share your comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, according to the preliminary estimates of the GDP for the April-June 2016 quarter that were released today, real GDP grew at a growth rate of 0.2% on an annualized basis. While capital investment and foreign demand recorded decreases, private consumption and housing investment recorded increases against the backdrop of improvements in the employment and income environments, among other factors. In addition, public investment also increased. We understand that, as these figures illustrate, while there are signs of weakness in the Japanese economy recently, the employment and income environments have continued to improve and the Japanese economy continues on a path of modest recovery. In order to get the economy on a steady path to growth to fully break free from deflation, the “Economic Measures for Investing in the Future” was approved by the Cabinet on August 2. The Government will steadily implement the economic measures to ensure they not only stimulate demand for the time being, but also contribute to sustainable economic growth led by private demand and to the steady realization of a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Today, Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Special Advisor to the President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) visited Yasukuni Shrine. During this visit, Mr. Nishimura explained to the press that in paying this visit he was entrusted with the Prime Minister’s ritual offering of “tamagushi-ryo” and that he signed the guest book as “President of the LDP.” Does the Government share the same understanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While we are aware of the reports, this is not a matter on which the Government should express its opinions. The Prime Minister will make an appropriate decision on whether or not to visit Yasukuni Shrine.

REPORTER: A related question. Minister for Reconstruction Imamura visited the shrine on the 11th. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hagiuda also visited today. What is your personal opinion regarding visits to Yasukuni Shrine of Cabinet members and senior Government officials?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I am aware that Cabinet members and others visit Yasukuni Shrine. My understanding is that they are by all means visiting in a private capacity. Visits made by Cabinet members in a private capacity are a matter that concerns the freedom of religion of individuals, and are not a matter which the Government should become involved in. This has always been my opinion.

(Abridged)

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