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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 2, 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the birthrate survey that has been published by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) today. The survey found that last year for the first time ever the number of live births fell below one million, highlighting that the birthrate continues its decline, seemingly without signs of slowing. What is the Government’s view of the current situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that according to the vital statistics for 2016 released by MHLW today, the number of births in 2016 stood at 977,000, representing a decrease of about 30,000 since the previous year, and the first time since the survey began that births have fallen below the one million level. One of the factors behind this fall is that the number of women aged between 20 and 39 fell by 30,000 since the previous year. As the female population is forecast to decrease further in the future the birthrate still faces a severe situation. However, this result only serves to reinforce our recognition of the importance of realizing a society with the dynamic engagement of all citizens, which is one of the banner policies of the Abe administration. Based on such a recognition we will redouble our efforts to enhance child-rearing support policies, with a view to realizing a society with the desired birthrate of 1.8.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have just referred to Government efforts, so in view of the current situation could you tell us what the Government intends to do to tackle the declining birthrate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Abe administration recognizes that this is a particularly serious issue and seeks to create measures that give it the highest priority. Firstly, in terms of the factors that are preventing people from realizing their hopes of marriage and raising children, a variety of challenges are intertwined, including the economic concerns of young people and non-regular employees, as well as senses of isolation and burden relating to child-rearing. What the Government is seeking to do is to eliminate such factors one by one and realize a society in which all people can achieve what they desire. The Government will continue to make concerted and utmost efforts towards the realization of a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged and also the realization of work style reform, which will be the key to all efforts. Through such efforts we aim to create a society where the desirable birthrate of 1.8 is achievable.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about comments made by the Prime Minister on a radio program that was broadcast last night. The Prime Minister stated that he had indicated to Mr. Maekawa, former Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, when he was serving in his vice-ministerial role, that if he had any points he wanted to raise, then he should come see him accompanied by the Minister. Does the Prime Minister’s Office currently have a framework in place that would enable bureaucrats to come and raise concerns about the Prime Minister’s or your policies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We meet often with various administrative vice ministers. The Prime Minister receives visits from many, who come to explain various matters, and if it is the case that they have their own opinions then they have ample opportunity to raise them in such meetings.

REPORTER: I have a question about Kake Educational Institution. In an interview with Fuji Television, former Vice-Minister Maekawa has expressed extreme disappointment that you have made statements in contradiction of the facts behind his resignation. What are your thoughts on this statement by Mr. Maekawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I made my comments on the basis of the facts I am aware of.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. It has emerged that at the end of last month a Japanese male was detained by Chinese authorities in Dalian. It is said that he is charged with acts of espionage. Could you tell us what the Government is aware of with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have received notification from China that a Japanese national has been detained by Chinese authorities on suspicion of violating the laws of China. The report was that a Japanese male in his 60s was detained in May this year in Liaoning Province. I would like to refrain from saying anything more. The Government will continue to provide appropriate support through our overseas diplomatic missions, from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I understand that the Government is responding appropriately, but do you have any information about the man’s health? Also, have Japanese consuls been granted access to the man?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have confirmed that that is the case.

REPORTER: So the consular office has been granted visiting rights?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes.

REPORTER: It seems there has recently been a spate of detentions of Japanese nationals by Chinese authorities, so far as the ones that have come to light are concerned. How does the Government intend to respond to the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals overseas, if someone is detained we will continue to steadily provide appropriate support through our overseas diplomatic missions. That is also happening in this case as well.

(Abridged)

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