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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 21, 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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At around 2:07 PM today, there was an earthquake in central Tottori Prefecture registering lower 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. There will be no tsunamis from this earthquake. We are now undertaking maximum efforts to gauge the extent of the damages. Over ten 119 calls have been placed related to transporting the injured people, mainly in Kurayoshi City. In addition, we have been briefed that power outages have occurred in Tottori Prefecture, and therefore, some traffic lights are not working. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has briefed us that no problems have been found at the nuclear-related facilities. At 2:10 PM today, the Prime Minister instructed that information on damages be gathered quickly, that the Government make collective efforts in close coordination with local governments in taking emergency disaster responses including rescuing and saving the lives of the affected people, and that information regarding evacuation and damages be provided to the people in a timely and accurate manner. Immediately following the earthquake, the Government set up a countermeasures office at the Prime Minister’s Office under the Crisis Management Center of the Prime Minister’s Office. In addition, an emergency team consisting of the directors-general of relevant ministries and agencies was convoked. The team confirmed that all possible efforts would be undertaken in response to the disaster. The Government will continue to work to gather information on damages and undertake maximum efforts for emergency disaster response, giving top priority to rescuing and saving the lives of the affected people, in close coordination with the affected local governments. We ask the people in the areas hit by the earthquake to pay attention to information on evacuations provided by local governments as well as information provided by TV, radio, and other sources, and to help each other and act calmly. 

If a ballistic missile launched by North Korea may reach Japan, the Government will utilize the J-ALERT national instant warning system to send out an emergency alert. In light of the recent situation related to the ballistic missiles of North Korea, today the Government once again published information on the Civil Protection Portal Site available on the Cabinet Secretariat website which explains how information is communicated via J-ALERT and the points of caution. In addition, the Government requested the cooperation of the Fire and Disaster Management Agency in notifying local public organizations about the publication of information related to J-ALERT on the Cabinet Secretariat website and in raising the awareness of the people.

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. At today’s meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, a proposal is expected to be made regarding the review of the GDP calculation method. Can you please explain how the Government perceives the current GDP calculation method?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We believe that further improvements need to be made to the accuracy of our statistics that provide the basis for GDP estimates. In addition, we consider that new data such as administrative records and big data need to be utilized more fully. Furthermore, the Government views that we need to: develop and release data based on the perspective of users; exercise functions as a command tower of statistics in order to improve their accuracy; ensure the training of statistics personnel; and increase the efficiency of our statistics work. Under these circumstances, we believe it is important that government-wide efforts be made to develop a more precise and user-friendly statistics system, including improving the overall GDP statistics, by addressing the challenges.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It has been noted that the revision of the calculation method will raise the GDP figures. In this context, it seems some hold the view that the Government, which sets the goal of increasing GDP to 600 trillion yen, is revising the system to inflate the figures. What is your response to these remarks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Such views are subject to question. The standard was introduced in 2008. As a result, GDP statistics were revised, and changes were made, such as including R&D investment in investment. We have announced our preliminary estimate that the nominal GDP in 2011 will increase by 19.8 trillion yen. We plan to release all of the GDP revised values by year-end. In any case, all countries are revising their statistics based on the 2008 standard, and Japan, too, is making revisions. In addition, we believe that revising the statistics is extremely important for improving the accuracy of economic statistics that serve as the foundation for developing various policies. In any case, government-wide efforts will be made to establish a precise and user-friendly statistics system. By doing so, we will work to increase the reliability of our statistics. Further still, it is true that there lacks consistency among the ministries and agencies, with the respective ministries and agencies collecting their own statistics. This work needs to be done in an integrated manner by the Government as a whole. I believe this is natural.

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. I have a question regarding the Japan-Philippines summit meeting and the response to the South China Sea issue. The Prime Minister is expected to hold talks with President Duterte next week. Will the arbitral tribunal’s award regarding the South China Sea issue be included in the agenda, and will the Prime Minister seek the Philippines’ understanding and cooperation on the position of Japan, which is that the countries concerned should respect the award? Can you please share your outlook?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan has consistently called for upholding the rule of law in the South China Sea, collaborating with the countries concerned including the Philippines, and peacefully settling the issue through diplomacy. Japan has advocated that as the tribunal’s award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the parties to this case are required to comply with the award. Japan’s assertion has not changed at all.

REPORTER: A related question. Then do you perceive that there is or there is not a difference in understanding between the Prime Minister and President Duterte on whether the judicial award of the arbitral tribunal should be respected?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not see any differences. The Prime Minister and President Duterte have already discussed this.

REPORTER: My question is related to the previous question. President Duterte has reiterated critical remarks about the United States, stating that the Philippines will break away from the country. There are concerns that diplomatic relations between the United States and the Philippines will deteriorate. In this context, what will be the position of Japan, which has relations with both countries?   
 
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan’s position is clear. Our basic stance is self-evident.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about a different matter. My question is in regard to the 2016-2017 Strategic Directions and Priorities for the period up to September FY2017, which the Financial Services Agency (FSA) released today. In this policy, FSA is requesting banks to free themselves from the provision of loans that rely excessively on collaterals and the creditworthiness of companies. FSA encourages banks to fulfill its original role of providing loans based on the future prospects of businesses. Can the Government once again explain the objectives of these measures?      

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: FSA releases the Strategic Directions and Priorities to show the policy that forms the basis of FSA’s financial administration. It states that FSA aims to increase the welfare of the people through achieving the sustainable growth of companies and of the economy, and through stable asset formation by the people. As you mentioned in your question, FSA seeks to reform financial authorities and financial administration, shift to financial flows that realize stable asset formation by the people, and convert to business models of financial institutions that aim to create common values. While reforming itself in this manner, FSA will work to realize competition aimed at providing quality services by encouraging diversified investment by households and having financial institutions face the needs of their customers. Under this policy, it is expected that not only the financial industry but also a range of stakeholders will share their recognition and hold constructive dialogues. In addition, while these criticisms have been made to banks a number of times before, I believe this is the first time that they have been spelled out in this manner.     

REPORTER: A study of the Board of Audit of Japan has revealed that at 31 temporary storage sites for contaminated soil in Fukushima Prefecture associated with the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, it may not be possible to measure the concentration of radioactive substances that the soil released into water. For example, four such sites have been identified in Iitate Village. The evacuation order will supposedly be lifted in a majority of the areas of the village by spring of next year. How will the Board’s suggestions affect the return of the people to their villages in your opinion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, we have been informed that these suggestions were made. However, to date, no radioactive substances have been detected from the underground water at the temporary storage sites. In addition, we have been informed that the effects on the surrounding environment are not of a level that raises concern. I understand that in order to take all possible measures, the Minister of the Environment gave out thorough instructions to working-level officials. In any case, we will continue to monitor the impacts on the surrounding environment. We believe it is important to provide careful explanations to the host communities.


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