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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 12, 2016 (PM)

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]

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question concerning China’s development of gas fields. Of the 16 structures that the Government has confirmed on the Chinese side of the geographical equidistance line between Japan and China, from the start of this month flares have been confirmed on a further two of these structures, suggesting that natural gas is being produced. At the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China in September, Prime Minister Abe and President Xi Jinping agreed that the two governments would engage in consultations towards the resumption of negotiations regarding joint development of the gas fields. This most recent development would appear to reverse the agreement reached at the G20, so can I ask for the Government’s view on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Recently, at the beginning of October, the government confirmed that of the oil and gas platforms China has installed in the East China Sea, flares were occurring at two new places. Under the circumstances pending maritime boundary delimitation between Japan and China in the East China Sea, it is extremely regrettable that China is advancing unilateral development in these waters despite repeated protests from the Government. Accordingly a protest was immediately lodged with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels. To date, Japan has strongly requested the Chinese side to stop unilateral development activities and it is our intention to continue making strong requests to the Chinese side. In any event, based on the "2008 Agreement" we intend to continue strongly requesting the Chinese side to quickly resume the consultations between Japan and China regarding the conclusion of an international agreement, so that the “2008 Agreement” can be implemented quickly.

REPORTER: I have a question on the Japan-Russia Strategic Dialogue that is scheduled to begin tomorrow. Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs will be dispatched to represent the Japanese side in this dialogue. Can I ask what outcomes the Government is expecting from this dialogue, particularly with regard to the issue of the Northern Territories and how you intend to link the outcomes to the Japan-Russia summit meeting scheduled for December?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the visit of President Putin to Japan is already decided and in advance of the visit, the Government is seeking to invigorate bilateral political dialogue. It is against this backdrop that the two governments confirmed at the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting the importance of holding regular strategic dialogue from the perspective of bringing the two sides even closer in diplomatic discussions. Based on this recognition, tomorrow, October 13, the Japan-Russia Strategic Dialogue will be conducted between Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Vladimir Gennadievich Titov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, The Government anticipates that the dialogue will cover a broad range of issues, including urgent international issues of strategic interest to both Japan and Russia and bilateral matters.

REPORTER: I have a further question relating to Russia. The breakdown of the ceasefire in Syria is raising tensions between Russia and the countries of Europe and the United States. As Japan currently holds the Presidency of the G7, what are your thoughts about Japan simultaneously seeking to accelerate political dialogue with Russia ahead of the visit of President Putin in December, while maintaining a united G7 response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is gravely concerned about the further deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Syria and believes that all parties, countries concerned and the international community as a whole must make further efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire in Syria. Furthermore, efforts must be made to ensure access so that humanitarian assistance can be provided safely and without obstruction. At the same time, I do not think that recent developments will have an impact on negotiations towards the conclusion of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia. In any event, the Government will continue to work closely with the G7 with regard to its policy toward Russia and will respond appropriately.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to the draft bill on reform of the pension system. Opposition parties are stepping up their opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would reduce pension benefits to elderly people, and the comments made by Diet member Mr. Yuichiro Tamaki of The Democratic Party in today’s Budget Committee meeting of the House of Representatives have been closely followed by the press. What are your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The pension system is extremely important for supporting people in their later years and it is therefore something that should not be reformed with undue haste. I think that what is most important is for ruling and opposition parties to engage in non-partisan discussions and seek to share knowledge and wisdom on the ways to ensure a stable pension system into the future. With regard to the thorough implementation of the macroeconomic slide formula for pension benefit payments, I believe that this is something that is of the utmost importance and we must not respond irresponsibly by passing on problems to future generations. Rather, we must seek to boost the sustainability of the public pension system by asking the current generation of pension beneficiaries to give up a small portion of their benefits in order to ensure that a certain level of benefits can be paid to future generations. It is my hope that all parties will engage in fruitful discussions on this matter and the Government seeks to realize the passage of the bill in the near term.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Governor of Tokyo has noted in a press conference that the national Government has not signed the host city contract that Tokyo Metropolitan Government and others have signed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It has been pointed out that the rights and obligations of the national Government with regard to the Olympics remain vague. Could you tell us whether it is normally the case for the national government of the host country to sign the host city contract with IOC, and if no contracts or agreements are to be signed, how will the Government clarify its role in the Olympics?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To answer your question briefly, this is not something that the Government signs. Under the Olympic Charter, the IOC exchanges contracts and agreements with the host city and the Olympic committee of the host country. For example, in the case of the Rio and London Games, it is my understanding that the national governments of those countries did not sign the host city contract. With regard to the respective roles of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (the Organizing Committee), Tokyo Metropolitan Government and national Government, these are set out clearly in the Basic Policy for Promoting Measures related to Preparations for and Management of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, which was formulated based on consultations between Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the JOC, during the tenure of the previous governor of Tokyo, Mr. Masuzoe. In specific terms, the Organizing Committee, as the main management body of the Games, is responsible for planning, managing and organizing the Games, while Tokyo Metropolitan Government, as the host city, will provide full support for preparations for the Games made by the Organizing Committee, develop systems to receive foreign visitors and build momentum for the holding of the Games. The Government will make sure to implement relevant measures, the responsibility for which is divided between various ministries and agencies, in an integrated manner in order to realize smooth preparation for and management of the Games. It will also maintain close cooperation with the Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and local governments where competition venues are located and take necessary measures to promote nationwide initiatives. In any event, the Government will work in close cooperation with Tokyo Metropolitan Government as the host city and the Organizing Committee to ensure the success of the Tokyo Games.

With regard to the matter of the power cut, I have received word that all power was restored at 3:48 p.m.

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