Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding the Enactment of the FY2022 Budget and Other Matters

March 22, 2022
[Provisional Translation]
 (Regarding the enactment of the FY2022 budget)

Earlier today, in the plenary session of the House of Councilors, the FY2022 budget, the largest-ever amount of 107.6 trillion yen, was passed and enacted. The fourth-earliest enactment of an initial budget in the postwar era was made possible thanks to many people concerned, including those in both ruling and opposition parties. I sincerely appreciate their cooperation. The FY2022 budget is intended not only to ensure that all possible countermeasures are taken against the COVID-19, but also to focus on measures to realize a sustainable economy through a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution, such as promoting the Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation, addressing climate change and investing in innovation, science and technology, as well as investment in people. Although the COVID-19 infections are recently showing a sign of slowing down, I believe that we are now at a critical juncture in our efforts toward the revival of the Japanese economy, which has been damaged by the pandemic. New crises, such as the soaring crude oil prices triggered by the situation in Ukraine, are threatening people's lives and corporate management. We will flexibly respond to such emerging situations as well.

While the parliamentary debate over the budget ended today, our immediate challenge is to promptly implement this largest-ever initial budget. We must also take all possible measures to deal with the current economic situation, such as the soaring prices for crude oil, raw materials and food, before seeking to revive the Japanese economy.

To conclude my remarks, let me briefly touch on the G7 summit meeting. Under the initiative of President Biden, the G7 summit will be held on March 24. I hope to attend it if circumstances permit. Faced with the crisis triggered by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, it is important for the leaders of the G7 to gather to strengthen unity in responding to international affairs, and it is also an important opportunity to build personal relationship of trust among the leaders. With the discussions I recently had with the leaders of India and Cambodia in mind, I would like to actively contribute to the G7 summit as the representative of Asia.

(Regarding Russia’s announcement that it will suspend negotiations for a peace treaty with Japan and other related matters)

Let me first point out that Russia's aggression against Ukraine is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force and an act that shakes the very foundations of the international order. It is a clear violation of international law, and we cannot tolerate it and severely condemn it. With regard to the announcement by the Russian Foreign Ministry, we strongly protest that all this current situation has been created as a result of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and that Russia's attempt to shift the blame of the consequences onto Japan-Russian relations is extremely unjust and absolutely unacceptable. Regarding the recent aggression against Ukraine, Japan will continue to act resolutely in solidarity with the international community to ensure to protect the foundations of the international order. I, meanwhile, believe that the Japanese government's basic diplomatic policy toward Russia to resolve territorial disputes and conclude a peace treaty is unchanged. With that said, I do not believe that we are in a position to say anything about the negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty or anything else at this point in time. Regarding your question as to whether I will inform the G7 summit of this matter, I think it is important to share this among the G7 member nations as the issue is part of what is happening in Asia. Responding to your question about future changes in the Asian situation, I cannot give you anything certain about the future situation at this point, but I can say that we must closely monitor changes in the situation so that we can respond to various changes in the situation. I think this is important.

(Regarding economic cooperation with Russia)

I must first say that the current situation will not allow us to launch any new cooperation based on the eight-point economic cooperation plan. And what we need to do is to carefully examine the exact scope of economic cooperation as we are involved in various projects with Russia. When we look at various projects such as Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2, I believe we need to thoroughly address the question of whether they are business projects or a matter of our strategic interests. I don't think it is possible for us to cooperate with Russia simply on a commercial basis, but we have to respect the fact that Japan has concluded a series of contracts with Russia to ensure our strategic interests in bringing energy sources to Japan at affordable prices over a long period of time for the important purpose of protecting the lives of our citizens. I believe it is important for us to make cool-headed decisions on how we will maintain relations with Russia in this respect going forward from the perspective of our national interests.

(Regarding additional economic measures)

We must carefully monitor how economic and business trends will evolve down the road. The Government has taken various measures to cope with the soaring commodity prices and other factors, including those to mitigate drastic changes in gasoline prices. For business operators, the Government has prepared measures such as business revival support money and interest-free and unsecured loans, as well as special measures for employment adjustment subsidies, many of which have been extended until June. I think it is important for us to first deliver these measures to the people. Then, after carefully monitoring changes in the situation, the Government will determine whether further measures are necessary, and if so, we will respond flexibly. I think such preparations are important. The Government will also examine whether measures like the 5,000-yen benefit for pension recipients that you have just pointed out are necessary, while considering the various measures that I have just mentioned.

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