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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 30, 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

REPORTER: I have a question about the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor. Today the third round of interviews with experts has concluded and various opinions were put forward in the course of the interviews. Do you have a sense that these opinions will help to lead to a conclusion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In today’s Advisory Council meeting, interviews were held with persons who have a variety of specialist knowledge relating to constitutional matters. The Government expects that through these interviews various issues and challenges will be set out for wider public discussion and that these people with expert knowledge will formulate a set of recommendations that broadly reflects the sentiments of the people of Japan. The Government hopes that while gathering and considering a broad range of opinions through these interviews, the Advisory Council will continue to engage calmly and without prejudice in discussions about easing the burden of the official duties and public activities of His Majesty.

REPORTER: I have a related question. With regard to the matter of abdication, in the interviews with experts, opinions have been expressed that it would amount to involvement in government, which is forbidden by the Constitution, and that the compilation of a special law to allow for abdication would not be in accordance with the stipulations of Article 2 of the Constitution. I believe that the Advisory Council must come up with recommendations that conclude that abdication would not be unconstitutional, but do you think that it is possible to compile such recommendations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I am aware that the people who have been interviewed are experts in their respective fields and have provided opinions from the perspective of these specialist fields, I would like to refrain from making any comment about the content of these opinions in my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary. The Government’s expectation is that the Advisory Council will listen carefully to the broad range of opinions expressed in the interviews and continue to engage in discussions without prejudice about easing the burden of the official duties and public activities of His Majesty.

REPORTER: I have a further question. I believe that the Advisory Council members will proceed by distilling points for discussion, but ultimately do you envisage that they will be able to amalgamate all these opinions into one set of recommendations in the manner you have just mentioned?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as this issue is a very important one relating to the fundamental matters of state, it is not one that should be advanced with a pre-determined schedule. First and foremost, the Government expects the Advisory Council members to engage in discussions without prejudice. On the other hand, however, neither should we prolong the response to this matter unduly.

REPORTER: With regard to the matter of compiling a set of recommendations, the current situation is that opinion is split on the matter of abdication. How do you expect the Advisory Council to reach a settlement or a compromise on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government is requesting the Advisory Council members to engage in discussions without prejudice on this issue. Once the discussions of the Advisory Council have reached a certain stage, the Government would then like to consider moving forward to engage in discussions among ruling and opposition parties. One way of proceeding would be, for example, to engage in consultations with the presidents and vice-presidents of both houses of the Diet.

REPORTER: You have just stated that once discussions have reached a certain stage, the Government would seek to engage in discussion among the ruling and opposition parties. You have also just mentioned that this is a very important issue relating to fundamental matters of state, so if legislation were to be amended and submitted to the Diet, although a simple majority would ensure the passage of such legislation, do you consider it to be preferable to secure a unanimous or near-unanimous vote of approval in the Diet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the current point I would like to refrain from making any specific comment in my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary about the compilation of recommendations. In any event, at the current time the Government is requesting the members of the Advisory Council to engage in discussions without prejudice with a view to compiling a set of recommendations. The Government will follow the course of these discussions and the direction they take.

REPORTER: I have one more question. You have stated that while the Government hopes that the discussions will be advanced without prejudice, neither should a response to this matter be unduly prolonged. In your previous responses to the Diet, you stated that the Government is seeking to submit a bill in next year’s ordinary Diet session. His Majesty made his comments on August 8 this year and if a bill is submitted to the ordinary Diet session, it will be less than a year since His Majesty’s comments. What are the reasons behind this sense of haste and the timing for submission of a bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than speaking about a sense of haste, I think that firstly it is important not to have a pre-determined period or deadline for discussions. During the time for discussions, the opinions of various experts will be sought and the members of the Advisory Council will engage in discussions without prejudice until a certain direction has been identified, when naturally it will be necessary for the ruling and opposition parties to also engage in discussions. What I have said previously in the Diet is that if it is necessary to implement revisions to relevant legislation then of course it could be anticipated that such a bill would be submitted. However, at the current stage, the specific direction on the way to proceed is not yet known and so I would like to refrain from making speculative comments.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, concerning the Integrated Resort (IR) bill. Diet deliberations have begun on the IR bill, which would promote casinos and other resorts. You have yourself requested that the Diet deliberate this bill, so can I ask for the views of the Government now that deliberations have begun?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that Japan is aiming to establish a position as a tourism-oriented nation, there are great expectations for the impact that integrated resorts could have on promoting tourism, revitalizing regions and promoting industry. However, the Government also naturally recognizes the necessity to consider systemic measures as prerequisites for such resorts, including from such perspectives as crime prevention, maintenance of law and order, healthy development of young people and prevention of gambling addiction. The Government will be following developments in the Diet concerning such matters.

REPORTER: If possible, is the Government aiming to achieve the passage of this bill during the current Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted, from the perspective of promoting Japan as a tourism-oriented nation, the Government hopes that this bill will be thoroughly deliberated in the Diet.

REPORTER: Members of the New Komeito, part of the ruling coalition, have indicated misgivings about this bill and The Democratic Party is demonstrating strong opposition by its current refusal to engage in deliberations. What are your views concerning this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The details of this bill, which was initiated by Diet members, have been previously discussed and the members who submitted it were present at those discussions. In any event, each party will discuss its own stance and response to the bill and therefore I would like to refrain from making any comment. Ultimately it is a matter for the Diet to decide.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: A Meeting among Four Ministers of the National Security Council (NSC) has recently been held to discuss the peacekeeping operation (PKO) mission in South Sudan. Could you tell us what matters were discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you have just noted, the mission in South Sudan and the situation in the Asia-Pacific region were among the issues discussed in the meeting. I would like to refrain from talking about specific details.

REPORTER: So there was no discussion about anything particular that has occurred in South Sudan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, there was no such discussion.

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