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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 19, 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: A short while ago, at the meeting of the Committee on Cabinet of the House of Representatives, you exchanged views with Mr. Katsuya Okada of the Democratic Party regarding the burden of the official duties and public activities of His Majesty the Emperor. During these exchanges of views, you stated that if possible you hope to submit a bill to the ordinary session of the Diet, upon hearing the views of the Diet members. I would like to confirm what sort of bill you envision submitting to the Diet? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I stated that if legal revisions are needed upon hearing the views of the Diet members, then we would of course want to submit them to the Diet.

REPORTER: I have a related question. So you are not referring only to a bill that would allow for abdication?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Absolutely not. As I stated in my response at the Diet a short while ago, we are asking experts to distill the issues. If the issues and challenges become evident, we will then create opportunities to also consult with the members of the Diet, as the Emperor shall be the symbol of the unity of the people. If, in this process, it becomes necessary to develop legislation, then we will submit it to the Diet. I believe this is a natural course of events. 

REPORTER: A related question. At the meeting of the Committee, you explained moments ago that the bill would be submitted to the Diet at the timing in which the Advisory Council distills the issues and outlines a certain direction. What sort of direction do you envision the Advisory Council presenting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be something that outlines the challenges and issues. We have asked the members of the Advisory Council to present a direction for addressing the challenges and issues regarding eight items, and we will of course need to explain them to the Diet. Upon doing this, if there are areas that require the development of legislation, then we will submit it to the Diet. I perceive that this is a natural course of events so to speak.

REPORTER: I have a follow-up question. Chief Cabinet Secretary, you referred to “direction.” Does this refer to an outline of the issues or a proposal of the Advisory Council? Which is it?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Issues and challenges. It will outline what kinds of issues there are.

REPORTER: A related question. Chief Cabinet Secretary, you stated “as early as at the start of the new year” in your response at the Diet a short while ago. Are you saying that this outline of the challenges and issues will be presented as early as at the start of the new year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, three meetings will be held in November at which we will seek various opinions from experts on the Constitution, history, and the Imperial House Law. In addition, discussions will take place among the experts. There is also the question of whether or not three meetings are sufficient. I imagine that more meetings will be held if they are deemed necessary by the experts. I made the remark that I did as the itinerary is vague. 

REPORTER: I would like to confirm in connection with this matter. In your response at the Diet a short while ago, I believe you stated that discussions would be held free of assumption, and that you are considering an early date within the end of this year, if possible. Were you saying that you hope to have the issues outlined by the end of the year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, of course. However, as I also stated in my response, if the experts decide to hold hearings with more people, then this will surely change.

REPORTER: Let us say that the development of relevant legislation becomes necessary and that it will be submitted to the ordinary session of the Diet. If so, will you naturally be aiming to have the legislation passed during the same ordinary session of the Diet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not gotten to that point yet. As Mr. Okada asked me to outline a rough schedule for the overall process, I presented a rough schedule. The details have yet to be decided. We do not intend to touch upon this, and therefore, I would like to refrain from making comments. 

REPORTER: I have one last question. You stated that the Government is discussing this matter, including the issue of female members of the Imperial Family. You stated that it is true that extensive discussions have taken place. This issue will not be discussed among the experts? Is this issue outside the scope of their discussion? Will the Government review this issue and present some sort of direction in the near future, for example, by the end of the year? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government takes the issue of the decreasing number of Imperial Family members seriously. I have responded to this a number of times at meetings of the Committee on Cabinet. I have stated that the Government is reviewing this matter. I have also stated that this review would not continue endlessly. However, as this new issue of easing the burden has become imminent with the aging of His Majesty, experts will hold meetings to realize this. 

REPORTER: With regard to the discussions at the legislature, you stated in your response at the Diet a short while ago that the speakers of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors would play a central role. Can you tell us what format you have in mind at this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not decided to that extent. I was just giving an example. I believe I stated that the speakers of both Houses may be consulted, for example. If I recall correctly, Mr. Okada also made such a statement. I said that yes this is being considered as a possibility. However, I did not say that we would definitely do this.

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic to the Diet deliberations regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ratification proposal. Yesterday, at a party for Mr. Sato, Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Administration of the House of Representatives, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yamamoto stated in connection with the Diet deliberations regarding the TPP ratification proposal that Mr. Sato would determine whether the proposal would be railroaded through the Diet and that is why the Minister rushed to the party. The Minister’s remarks have raised a series of criticisms from members of the ruling and opposition parties. In addition, some are demanding a swift response from the Government. Can you please share your comments? How will the Government be dealing with the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, this is my understanding of Minister Yamamoto’s remark. Because at the Diet a member of the opposition party asked the Prime Minister whether the proposal would be railroaded through the Diet, Minister Yamamoto stated to the effect that it is not the Prime Minister but Mr. Sato that will make this decision. He made his remark based on the view that it is the Diet that decides on the affairs of the Diet. However, his remark can cause significant misunderstanding. Therefore, today, I strongly warned the Minister to refrain from making remarks that could cause misunderstanding.

REPORTER: With regard to the TPP deliberations, last month, House of Representatives member Fukui, who was a director of the Special Committee on TPP, mentioned that he would work hard to railroad the proposal and later resigned from his post of director. When the Government is aiming to obtain the swift approval of the TPP, members of the Government and the Liberal Democratic Party have made remarks in succession that interfere with smooth deliberations. What is the Government’s view of this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the purport of Minister Yamamoto’s remark was entirely different from that of Mr. Fukui’s remark. I have been briefed that the purport of Minister Yamamoto’s remark was that the decision would be made at the Diet. However, in any case, as his remark can be misunderstood to mean that the proposal would be passed by railroading it through the Diet, this morning I strongly warned Minister Yamamoto to refrain from making such remarks. The Government has absolutely no intention of railroading the proposal.    

REPORTER: Then, in your opinion, what impact will the Minister’s recent remark have on the future deliberations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Minister will provide explanations. The Minister stated that he retracts his remarks and apologized over this issue. I gather that the Minister will provide these explanations as appropriate.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm whether you warned Minister Yamamoto by telephone.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, that is correct.

REPORTER: What did the Minister say about retracting his remark?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Minister explained the purport of his remark. He stated that at the Committee meeting, a member of the opposition party asked the Prime Minister whether he would be railroading the proposal. The Minister made his remark implying that this would be decided at the Diet. The Minister deeply regretted that his remark could be subject to significant misunderstanding.

(Abridged)


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