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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 26, 2017 (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: I have a question regarding the resignation of Minister for Reconstruction Imamura. The Prime Minister commented on this earlier, but can you also explain why the Prime Minister accepted Minister Imamura's letter of resignation, as well as what the aim was in appointing Mr. Yoshino elected from one of the disaster-affected districts as Mr. Imamura's replacement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Minister for Reconstruction Imamura submitted a letter of resignation a short while ago, and the Prime Minister decided to accept the letter. Accordingly, the Prime Minister has decided to dismiss Minister Imamura and appoint House of Representatives member Masayoshi Yoshino to replace Mr. Imamura, effective today. We expect a letter of assignment will be given at 11:45 AM, following the attestation ceremony. As the Prime Minister has stated, Minister Imamura's remarks yesterday were extremely inappropriate remarks that must have hurt the feelings of the people in Tohoku, and have led to a significant loss of trust from those people. I believe it was in this context that Minister Imamura withdrew his remarks and offered an apology, as well as submitted a letter of resignation today, keenly feeling the weight of his responsibility. Based on the remarks made by Minister Imamura yesterday, as I have just stated, the Prime Minister determined that Mr. Imamura would not be able to obtain the public's understanding as the minister in charge who gives top priority to the reconstruction of the affected areas. I perceive that it was in that sense that the Prime Minister accepted the letter of resignation of Minister Imamura, and appointed as minister, House of Representatives member Yoshino, who is from the affected area, and as the Chairman of the Special Committee on Reconstruction after Great East Japan Earthquake, is working hard for its reconstruction while considering the sensitivities of those in the affected areas.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The resignation of Minister Imamura is having an impact on the Diet's deliberations. How will the Government be seeking the understanding of opposition parties to bring the deliberations back to normal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is up to the Diet to decide on the matters of the Diet. Minister Imamura has offered an apology and resigned, keenly feeling the weight of his responsibility. The Government has newly appointed Minister Yoshino. The Government will take steps to further accelerate the detailed efforts for the reconstruction of the affected areas, while considering the sensitivities of those in the affected areas. With that as our stance, the Government will offer explanations, and at the same time, entrust the matters of the Diet to the Diet. That is how I see it unfolding.

REPORTER: I have a question in this connection. House of Representatives member Yoshino will be the fifth Minister for Reconstruction since the second Abe Cabinet was established. In recent years, some have noted that the position of Minister for Reconstruction may have become a post for the so-called group of candidates awaiting posts to join the Cabinet. Some members of the administration hold the opinion that as more time passes since the earthquake disaster, the post of Minister for Reconstruction has gradually come to be taken lightly, leading to Minister Imamura's gaffe which did not consider the sensitivities of those in the affected areas. What is your understanding regarding the weight of responsibility of the Minister for Reconstruction post?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as the Prime Minister has stated constantly, the Government gives top priority to Tohoku's reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. At every turning point, the Prime Minister has instructed all ministers to engage in the reconstruction work with the mindset that they are each Minister for Reconstruction. Against this background, the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake has made steady progress to date. For example, restoration of infrastructure for daily life is nearly complete, and the rebuilding of 90% or more of the homes is expected to be complete by next spring. Even with all the progress, not even a single day's delay in reconstruction is acceptable. It was with this mindset that the Prime Minister swiftly appointed Minister for Reconstruction Yoshino today and all Cabinet members will make concerted efforts to support the affected areas.  

REPORTER: The Prime Minister stated during his press occasion earlier that the responsibility of having appointed Mr. Imamura lies with him. How does the Prime Minister intend to take or fulfill this responsibility?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister stated that the responsibility of appointing Mr. Imamura lies with him as Prime Minister. On that basis, the Prime Minister wasted no time in appointing Minister for Reconstruction Yoshino, viewing that not even a single day's delay is acceptable to proceed with the reconstruction of the affected areas. Based on the view that there can be no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Tohoku, we consider that it is most important to accelerate reconstruction.

REPORTER: I have a follow-up question. There have been a succession of cases of problematic remarks or behavior involving Cabinet members and a parliamentary vice-minister, which some have attributed to the laxness of the administration. What is your view in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, we regard that Diet members must take responsibility for their comments and actions as officials elected by the voters in an election. Under such a situation, it is a matter of course that ministers, state ministers, and parliamentary vice-ministers carry out their duties as members of the Cabinet, always with a sense of tension. We will work to ensure that this is widely practiced on all occasions.

REPORTER: A related question. Does the Government intend to once again caution Cabinet members to be careful with their comments and behavior?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has done so at every turning point. With the recent incident, I expect that all ministers will of course be urged to accelerate their reconstruction efforts with the mindset that they are Minister for Reconstruction.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of Mr. Imamura. The administration's attitude towards reconstruction is now subject to a critical eye because of this incident, spanning from Mr. Imamura's remarks to his resignation. How do you envision this impacting the administration of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, the remarks made by the Minister for Reconstruction yesterday were extremely inappropriate remarks that must have deeply hurt the feelings of the people in the affected areas, and have led to a significant loss of trust from those people. It was in this context that Minister Imamura resigned and the Prime Minister wasted no time in appointing Minister Yoshino today. These measures were taken based on the Abe administration's commitment to reconstruction and the Prime Minister's judgment that reconstruction work should not be delayed by even a single day.

(Abridged)


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