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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 14, 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

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved five general measures, the promulgation of legislation, draft bills, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Kozo Yamamoto and I made a statement respectively concerning the revision of the remuneration of public servants; the Minister of Finance concerning the issuance of a commemorative coin for the 8th Asian Winter Games; Prime Minister Abe and the Minister of Finance concerning the enforcement of the FY2016 supplementary budget; Minister Ishihara concerning the implementation of the Economic Measures for Realizing Investment for the Future; and the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications concerning the smooth and proper enforcement of the FY2016 supplementary budget by local governments and concerning the Administrative Counseling Week.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism made a statement concerning ensuring the smooth execution of public works; and the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications concerning ensuring the smooth execution of public works by local governments.

At the second meeting of the Ministerial Council on Remuneration and at the Cabinet meeting that followed, it was decided that the remuneration of national public servants would be revised per National Personnel Authority (NPA) recommendations of August 8. My statement regarding this matter is as shown in the material that has been distributed to you. It states that the Government respects the NPA recommendation system, and decided to make the revisions as recommended upon considering the overall national affairs, and that the Government expects each public servant to be aware that they serve the people of Japan and engage in public service appropriately and efficiently. Bills to amend remuneration legislation to revise remunerations per NPA recommendations were also approved at today’s Cabinet meeting.     

On October 13, the Government of Thailand announced that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away at a hospital in Bangkok where His Majesty was receiving medical care. The Government of Japan offers its heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family, the Government, and the people of Thailand. His Majesty reigned for 70 years. His Majesty was revered not only by the people of Thailand but also many people who had connections with Thailand. His Majesty paid a State Visit to Japan in 1963. In addition, Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress paid an official visit to Thailand in 1991 and again in 2006. Japan expresses its deepest sympathy on the passing of His Majesty.   

At today’s Cabinet meeting, the Cabinet approved the invitation for an Official Visit to Japan of Mr. Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, from November 6 to 9. During his stay in Japan, the President will have an audience with His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. In addition, Prime Minister Abe will hold a meeting with the President and host a dinner in his honor. Kazakhstan is a regional power, having the largest land area and greatest economic power in Central Asia. Furthermore, the country will become the first non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from Central Asia in 2017, and plays an essential role in the international community. Japan and Kazakhstan are partners in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, and as countries from Asia, have worked together closely in a range of fields. We hope that the President’s Official Visit will serve as a very meaningful opportunity that further deepens the ties and cooperative relations between the two countries.    

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Kumamoto Earthquake. Half a year has passed since the Kumamoto Earthquake. The reconstruction work is half-finished. Coupled with the subsequent eruption of Mt. Aso, tourism and agriculture took a double hit. Can you please explain what the Government is doing to address this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, if I may repeat what you said, it will be half a year since the Kumamoto Earthquake occurred. We offer our sympathy to the victims of the earthquake and our condolences to everyone affected. The Government has taken measures, including securing housing for the evacuees by providing public and temporary housing, raising the Government’s subsidy rate for disaster restoration works by declaring the earthquake a “Disaster of Extreme Severity,” and providing financial assistance through the Kumamoto Earthquake Recovery Emergency Fund. We built emergency temporary housing in the affected areas, among other measures. As a result, the number of evacuees that was 180,000 at its peak is now down to 200, and we deem that the emergency measures such as securing housing for the affected people have achieved their goal to some extent. In addition, approximately 413.9 billion yen was allocated for reconstruction and restoration from the Kumamoto Earthquake in the second supplementary budget that was passed during the current session of the Diet. We will make full use of this budget in order to repair roads and facilities, secure permanent housing, restore people’s livelihoods, and provide extensive supports for revitalizing industries. Keeping with the words of the Prime Minister that the Government would do all that is possible, the Government will continue to work collectively in undertaking maximum efforts towards rehabilitating the lives of the affected people as quickly as possible and reconstructing and restoring the affected areas, while carefully listening to the opinions of Kumamoto Prefecture and its municipalities.           

REPORTER: I have a question concerning visits to Yasukuni Shrine. The Annual Autumn Festival will be held at Yasukuni Shrine from October 17 for four days. Does Prime Minister Abe have any plans to visit the shrine during the festival?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the nature of this matter is such that the Prime Minister will make an appropriate judgment as to whether he will or will not visit the shrine.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Do you yourself have any plans to visit Yasukuni Shrine?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The exact same thing can be said for me as well.

REPORTER: Yesterday, it was announced that the American singer and songwriter Mr. Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Can you please share your comments? Do you have any kind of attachment to the songs of Bob Dylan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Bob Dylan is one of the distinguished singer-songwriters of the world. I imagine his lyrics have moved many people around the world. I would like to congratulate Mr. Dylan on his award and prays for his further success. I personally have no special connection to his songs. However, Mr. Dylan was indeed an extremely admirable star for people of my baby boomer generation.   

REPORTER: My question is in regard to the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station of the U.S. Forces in Okinawa Prefecture. Yesterday, in speaking to the press, Governor Onaga of Okinawa Prefecture stated that there were still plenty of chances to revoke the landfill permit after Okinawa Prefecture, let us say, loses the lawsuit seeking confirmation of illegality that is being considered by the Supreme Court. The Governor hinted at taking actions other than revoking the landfill permit that is currently being disputed. Can you please share your opinion? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, what measures the Prefecture would take are a hypothetical scenario, and therefore, the Government would like to refrain from making comments. Having said that, the Government and the Prefecture agreed on the terms of settlement in March of this year. Okinawa Prefecture and the Government agreed on a settlement proposal which set forth that the procedures to seek a judicial decision and the consultations would proceed swiftly in parallel with each other, and that when a judicial decision is rendered through a court judgment, the two sides would immediately comply with the judgment and would cooperate with each other in acting in good faith in accordance with the purport of the text and the reasons of the judgment. As Japan is a law-abiding nation, we would consider the judgment of the Supreme Court as the final judgment.           

REPORTER: As you just stated, the Prefecture and the Government agreed in the settlement in March to abide by the final decision. Despite this, at this timing when the lawsuit is being considered by the Supreme Court, the Governor hinted at the possibility of blocking the relocation using other authorities vested in the Governor, should the Prefecture lose the lawsuit. What is your view regarding this approach of the Governor?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making any particular comments. In any case, the Government deems that it is important to act in good faith in accordance with the terms of settlement.   

REPORTER: My question pertains to the previous question. It can be inferred that the Government and the Prefecture have a different interpretation of the terms of settlement, and this is what is underlying the Governor’s remarks. Does the Government have any intention to reconfirm the interpretation of the terms of settlement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: None whatsoever.

REPORTER: Are you implying that there is no difference in interpretation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Absolutely. We decided to go with the terms of settlement proposed by the court, in the presence of the attorneys from both sides. Japan is a law-abiding nation, and I believe that says it all.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Some have suggested that the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand may lead to the stagnation of business activities in the country. What is the Government’s analysis of its impact on Japanese companies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is true that this has been reported. The Government will closely follow the situation and stands ready to provide appropriate supports and other responses in order to minimize the impact on Japanese companies should such circumstances result. 


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