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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 23, 2017 (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

H.E. Mr. Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic will pay an official working visit to Japan from June 27 to 30, 2017. During his stay in Japan, on June 27, Prime Minister Sobotka will hold a summit meeting with Prime Minister Abe, in addition to which he is scheduled to attend the Czech Republic – Japan Business and Investment Forum, jointly organized by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Tokyo and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), where he will deliver a keynote speech. The Czech Republic is an important partner for Japan, with which we share basic values. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and by extending an invitation to Prime Minister Sobotka on this occasion we aim to further strengthen our cooperation, not only in bilateral relations, but also in the international arena, including within the framework of Japan-EU cooperation.

Q&As

REPORTER: The freelance newscaster Ms. Mao Kobayashi, who had chronicled her fight with breast cancer on a blog, has passed away. Ms. Kobayashi’s blog attracted attention at home and abroad and gave encouragement to many people, and last year she was chosen as one of the BBC’s “100 Women 2016.” Can I ask for your thoughts on her passing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is truly heartrending to think of her passing away so young, at the age of 34. I am left speechless when I think of her bereaved husband Mr. Ebizo Ichikawa and her two young children, and would like to offer my heartfelt condolences. Ms. Kobayashi publicly announced her fight with cancer in June last year and after that she posted frequently on her blog about her determination not to hide behind cancer and her thoughts about her fight with the disease and her family. Ms. Kobayashi gained a great deal of sympathy for sharing her candid feelings and many people were hoping for a miracle. I believe that she gave courage and energy to many patients by showing how she was facing up to the disease. I also feel strongly that when cancer occurs in young people, its advance is often very rapid and there are many cases in which it is too late for curative treatment after the disease has been discovered. The Government will continue to ensure that we engage with patients, and all relevant ministries and agencies will make concerted efforts to strengthen various measures to control cancer, including prevention, examination, treatment, and research.

REPORTER: This morning, one of the key phrases used in relation to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election was the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. My question relates not to the election but to the Games themselves. I am one of the elderly who can remember the last time Japan hosted the Olympic Games in 1964, when I was a sixth-grader in elementary school. At that time, I remember thinking in my child’s mind that Japan would certainly become a great country. This feeling was shared by everyone and I remember that it was this surge of support and the expectation that the Olympics would help lead Japan to greatness that created momentum toward the Games at that time. However, in the case of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, while there may be some kind of formal vision or concept, I feel a sense of crisis that this is not known or understood by any of the people of Japan. As you are aware, Japan is now a mature nation with diverse values, and if the upcoming Games are to be a success, unless the central government or Tokyo Metropolitan Government can devise some means of drawing in the public and send out a strong message about what the Games stand for, it is unlikely that public momentum will be created in support of the Games. It is precisely because there is no clear message being sent out about the Games that led to the arguments about how much money would be appropriate to spend on a new replacement facility for the National Stadium. Without a unifying message or vision, I think that further arguments will emerge going forward. Can I ask whether you believe that the Games should have an easily understandable vision, concept, or theme, and if you believe that to be the case, what are your views about such a vision or message?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I too am old enough to clearly remember the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. Those Games left a tremendous legacy that we still enjoy today, including the Shinkansen, the Metropolitan Expressway, and beautiful streets free from rubbish. I believe too that many people shared the view that Japan would continue to develop and grow. As you have noted, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in a country that has reached a stage of maturity, and I think one of the major objectives for the Games is to once again leave a legacy for future generations. At the time of the bid for the 2020 Games, we put together a bid that encompassed various perspectives, including reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan’s technological strengths, the appeal of Japanese traditions and culture, making an international contribution through sports, and the realization of a harmonious society through universal design. From a personal perspective, one aspect that I would note is that since the start of this administration, the number of inbound travelers to Japan has increased enormously. Annual visitors have increased from 8.3 million at the start of the administration to 24 million last year, and arrivals for this year are up once again by almost 20 percent. With so many people coming to Japan, we can see that the country and indeed the world are globalizing, and for the upcoming Games in particular we will be organizing a variety of cultural programs that will showcase the appeal of Japan’s history, traditions, and culture. Looking to the future, we wish to create a legacy from these Games that will make future generations proud. The Government will continue to work closely together with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I believe that it is important for us to engage in preparations that create a future-oriented atmosphere around the entire nation as we seek to realize the best-ever Games.

(Abridged)

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