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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 29, 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 16 general and other measures, the promulgation of legislation, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Ishihara made a statement concerning the basic policy for establishing the FY2017 budget; Prime Minister Abe concerning the basic policy for establishing the FY2017 budget and instructions on establishing the budget; the Minister of Finance concerning the establishment of the initial FY2017 budget; the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications concerning Japan Broadcasting Corporation’s FY2015 financial statement and business report and the opinion of the Minister and concerning the results of the labor force survey and household budget survey; the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare concerning the effective ratio of job offers to applicants in October 2016; the Minister for Reconstruction concerning the report on the progress of the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake; the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology concerning a report on the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s research and development of innovative new technologies in FY2015 and the Minister’s opinion regarding the report; Minister Kato concerning the Week of Persons with Disabilities in FY2016; and Prime Minister Abe concerning acting ministers while ministers are away on overseas visits.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Kozo Yamamoto made a statement concerning the responses to matters raised at the Autumn Review, and the Minister of Finance made a statement concerning the Autumn Review.

Between last night and this morning, poultry that likely have highly pathogenic avian influenza were confirmed in succession in Aomori and Niigata Prefectures. In this light, the Ministerial Council on Avian Influenza held a meeting this morning to implement measures swiftly and expeditiously. The Prime Minister has already issued three instructions: collect extensive information about the sites; promptly take thorough epidemic prevention measures in close coordination with the relevant ministries including the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and quickly communicate accurate information to the people. Based on these instructions, the ministers affirmed that the Government would work as one to take all possible responses with a sense of vigilance in order to prevent the spread of infection. This year, cases of avian influenza have been confirmed among wild birds and many cases have been confirmed among poultry in neighboring countries. There is a risk of an outbreak occurring in other regions. The Government will continue to undertake maximum responses in close coordination with the relevant ministries, recognizing that preventing the spread of avian influenza is critical for crisis management.  

At the meeting of the Headquarters on Creating Dynamism in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Industries and Local Communities that was held today, the Agricultural Competitiveness Strengthening Program was approved and was included in the Plan for Creating Dynamism in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Industries and Local Communities. As part of the efforts to increase the incomes of farmers and turn agriculture into a growth industry, the Program comprises measures, such as the lowering of production material prices, reform of the distribution and processing structure, reform of raw milk distribution, review of the land improvement system, and introduction of an income insurance system. The Government will submit the required bills to the next ordinary session of the Diet and conduct thorough follow-ups to ensure the realization of the reforms.      

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question in relation to the Agricultural Competitiveness Strengthening Program that you mentioned in your opening statement. What is the Government’s assessment of the reforms in the Program? In addition, what specific advantages do you envision for those in agriculture? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Agricultural Competitiveness Strengthening Program was approved. We view that this Program is extremely significant for carrying out the agricultural policy reform promoted by the Abe Cabinet, from the standpoint of increasing the incomes of farmers and turning agriculture into a growth industry. To achieve this, we will lower production material prices to international standards. We will develop an efficient distribution and processing structure of agricultural products that takes into consideration the changes of the times. Furthermore, it is important to reorganize related industries, and the Government will support measures for such reorganization. In particular, based on an agreement with ZEN-NOH (National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations), it will establish and implement annual plans to be able to realize adequate achievements during the concentrated promotion period of agricultural cooperative reforms, and thereby, carry out fundamental reforms from the farmers’ perspective. With regard to raw milk, producers will be able to freely choose whom they ship to. Under the existing system, subsidies were provided only to producers shipping to designated organizations. We have reformed the system so that subsidies can be provided also to producers shipping to non-designated organizations. The system was fundamentally reviewed in this manner. This is the first time in 50 years for a reform of this nature to take place. We will submit bills for the reform to the next ordinary session of the Diet for the swift implementation of this Program. An arrangement is in place to conduct regular follow-ups of the progress of the reforms, which will further advance the reforms.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding ZEN-NOH’s reforms that you noted moments ago. The initial proposal made by the working group of the Regulatory Reform Promotion Council to set a deadline of no more than one year has been deleted. Do you perceive that establishing annual plans and conducting follow-ups will be sufficient for guaranteeing the effectiveness of the reforms?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As reports will be provided, we believe that effectiveness will be guaranteed.  

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. Ahead of President Putin’s visit to Japan in December, Presidential Press Secretary Peskov of the Presidential Executive Office of Russia told the Russian media that the conclusion of a peace treaty including the settlement of the Northern Territories issue is a matter requiring a lot of patient efforts on the part of the two countries. I understand this to mean that time is needed to resolve this issue. Does the Japanese Government hold the same view that this issue will not be solved at once by President Putin’s visit to Japan?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Government has stated from before, first of all, our basic policy is to conclude a peace treaty by solving the issue of the return of the four islands. Japan will persistently proceed with the negotiations based on this basic policy. In addition, the Prime Minister stated recently that while this is not a simple matter, he hopes that at the Japan-Russia summit meeting to be held in Yamaguchi, the issues of territory and concluding a peace treaty will be discussed extensively in a quiet atmosphere, and that progress will be made one step at a time. The Prime Minister said he would like to refrain from speculating any further regarding the outcome of the summit meeting. This is what the Prime Minister stated. I believe it is just as the Prime Minister stated.

REPORTER: In that case, is it your understanding that the summit meeting in December will serve as a starting point for the Northern Territories negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from speculating on the outcome of the summit meeting.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Prime Minister’s statement at the Cabinet meeting. You stated that the Prime Minister gave instructions concerning the basic policy for establishing the FY2017 budget. Can you tell us what the Prime Minister stated?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: For establishing the FY2017 budget, the Prime Minister instructed that an effectively focused budget be established by undertaking steady efforts to achieve fiscal consolidation, while at the same time, taking the necessary budgetary measures for important policy issues, such as child and nursing care for realizing a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged, as well as research and development that are key to the growth strategy. In addition, the Prime Minister instructed the Minister of Finance to compile the budget based on this basic policy, and asked relevant ministers for their cooperation.


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