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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 26, 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: It is exactly four years today since the inauguration of the second Abe Cabinet. Looking back on this period could you tell us of any legislation or events in the course of the administration that have made an impression on you, and also of the Government’s aspirations as it looks to the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, when I look back to the time when the administration was first inaugurated, I recall that we started in the worst possible situation, facing an extremely severe economic and diplomatic environment. In economic terms the yen stood at 75 to the dollar and if this situation had continued it would have been impossible to engage in economic activities in Japan, no matter what efforts were made. The effective ratio of job offers to applicants was 0.83 and was over 1.0 in only eight prefectures. That was the position from which we started. As we stand today, as a result of the economic policies of Abenomics you are all aware of the current yen exchange rate. Furthermore, the number of people in employment has risen by 1.1 million, and the effective ratio of job offers to applicants is at a 25-year high of 1.40, with the ratio recovering to above 1.0 in all 47 prefectures. In terms of diplomacy, at the start of this administration, Japan-U.S. relations were in a bad state. The Abe administration began four years ago on December 26 and at that time it was difficult to arrange or decide on the timing for a summit meeting with the United States. During the past four years, however, the Prime Minister has become the first-ever serving Japanese Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. What is more, the Prime Minister has held summit meetings with President Obama and this year the President visited Hiroshima. In that sense, Japan-U.S. relations are now in extremely good shape. In terms of relations with China, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Russia, at the start of this administration the situation was one in which the presidents of the ROK and Russia had actually paid visits for the first time to Takeshima and the Northern Territories, respectively. We have since worked to improve relations and goodwill with these neighboring countries and you are all aware of the results that have been achieved. In that sense, over the past four years the Abe Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Abe, has striven to push forward these various initiatives. Looking ahead to the future and the promotion of a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged, the Government will continue to make every effort to create an environment in which all people can actively participate, including work style reforms.

REPORTER: I have a related question. When the Abe Cabinet was inaugurated it was announced that the top priorities would be to exit from deflation and achieve the revitalization of the Japanese economy. What is your analysis of the Government’s achievements in these areas?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The administration began in very difficult circumstances and I believe that we can now say that Japan is no longer in a deflationary situation. In the election for the House of Councillors, the Prime Minister sought the opinion of the people of Japan concerning the Government’s economic policies and Abenomics and these policies are still in progress. However, I believe that we have now finally reached a point where Japan is no longer in a deflationary economy.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. In terms of running the Government, are there any points that you are taking particular care about?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What we are concentrating on is to advance policies while also providing thorough explanations and take responsibility for engaging in action on what needs to be done. I think it was two or three years after his appointment as Prime Minister when Prime Minister Abe announced to the world at Davos that he would serve as the “drill bit” breaking through the solid rock of vested interests. During the past four years we have endeavored to realize such regulatory reforms and reforms that the people of Japan would naturally expect.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. This evening the Prime Minister will depart for Hawaii, where he is scheduled to pay respects at Pearl Harbor and hold a summit meeting with President Obama. Could I ask once again what impact the Government believes the Prime Minister’s visit to Pearl Harbor will have on future Japan-U.S. relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Through his visit to Pearl Harbor, Prime Minister Abe wishes to express his resolve toward the future that the devastation of war must never be repeated and also make the visit an opportunity to show the significance of the reconciliation between Japan and the United States. Looking to the future, and based on the “Alliance of Hope” that Japan-U.S. relations represent, the Government seeks to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and the international community.

REPORTER: I have a related question. This year President Obama visited Hiroshima and Prime Minister Abe will be visiting Pearl Harbor, both of which are symbolic visits in that they are the locations where the war began and ended. Do you believe that these visits will bring to an end any remaining grudges between the two countries that have persisted during the postwar period?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and in that sense it provides an important opportunity to look back on the history of Japan-U.S. relations. As well as being an opportunity to recognize afresh the significance of reconciliation between Japan and the United States, two former enemies that transformed their relationship into an alliance based on shared values, as I have already mentioned, it will also provide an opportunity to express the resolve to never repeat the devastation of war.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: During the morning yesterday six Chinese naval vessels, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, navigated a passage through international waters northeast of Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture and advanced into the Pacific Ocean. This is the first time that the Self-Defense Forces have confirmed the Liaoning to have advanced into the Pacific Ocean. Can I ask for a comment on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, at around 10:00 a.m. on December 25, a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyer and aircraft confirmed six Chinese naval vessels, including a Chinese aircraft carrier, in waters approximately 110 kilometers northeast of Miyako Island, advancing from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean. These recent movements are the first time for the MSDF to confirm the advance of a Chinese aircraft carrier into the Pacific Ocean. The Government notes that this development demonstrates China’s growing capabilities in terms of maritime force. We will continue to closely watch movements of Chinese vessels in waters in the vicinity of Japan and engage in monitoring and surveillance activities.

REPORTER: It has been reported that the Government has initiated considerations on reducing the period required to attain permanent residence from five years to one year in the fastest cases, particularly for highly skilled foreigners residing in Japan, including researchers, technicians, and business persons. Could you tell us the facts behind these reports, and if they are true could you also tell us when the Government plans to introduce such a system?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016 stipulates that a system of “Japanese Green Card for Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals” will be established that will substantially reduce the period of stay required before highly skilled foreign professionals can apply for permanent residence from the current five years. The strategy also stipulates that the necessary measures should be taken as soon as possible in order to reach a conclusion. Accordingly, the Ministry of Justice is aiming to introduce such a system by the end of the current fiscal year and earnest deliberations are currently being advanced with a view to realizing this aim.

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