Press Conference by Prime Minster Kishida

August 31, 2022
[Provisional translation]

1. Opening statement

Good morning.

Thank you to everyone in the public who has been concerned for me. From today I am resuming my face-to-face official duties, and I am dedicating myself completely to my work, putting all my energy into it.

During this time, I have been supported by many people, including notably the medical staff at the Prime Minister's Office. Thanks to this support, I have recovered fully even while moving forward with my duties through online interactions.

Thank you very much indeed for the cooperation and understanding I have received from you, the citizens.

What I felt strongly upon becoming infected with COVID-19 was how helpful the vaccines are. Having had my fourth dose of the vaccine, I got through a COVID-19 infection with only mild symptoms. Based on my own experience, I continue to ask for the public's cooperation in getting inoculated, and I will also work to bring the starting date forward even further for administration of the new vaccine targeting the Omicron strain, scheduled to begin in October.

2. Looking back on the past year

Looking back now, it was one year ago that, harboring a desire to uphold Japan's democracy and the conviction there can be no government without the trust of the people, I ran in the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election. Since last October, after taking office as prime minister, I have taken on the work of responding to COVID-19, the aggression against Ukraine, rising prices, and other issues by advancing carefully-designed politics while listening to the voices of you, the citizens.

In the two national elections that have been held during this time, we received the trust of the public towards my administration. I reshuffled my cabinet to respond to urgent situations and carry out policies, under an approach that we must respond to the expectations of the public and resolve the multitude of issues facing us, taking on one and then another.

3. The former Unification Church

That said, I regard it as a very serious issue that right now, to speak frankly, the people's trust towards politics has been shaken. Returning to last year's starting point when I made the decision to run in the LDP presidential election, I must once more stand at the fore and work to restore trust in politics. I have renewed my determination to pursue politics of trust and sympathy.

First is the issue of the former Unification Church. It is indispensable for us politicians to make efforts to engage with as many people as possible during our individual political activities, listen to the views that they share with us, and also have them understand our own thinking. Moreover, freedom of religion and the separation of church and state must be respected to the utmost as an important principle under our Constitution.

However, political activities go hand in hand with responsibility. It is a matter of course that even religious groups must also observe relevant laws and ordinances as members of society. At the same time, strict discretion is called for on the part of politicians when interacting with groups that have been identified as socially problematic.

As for the ministers, state ministers, and parliamentary vice-ministers in my administration, I have had each of them conduct a check for any connections with the group in question and received firm promises that all relationships would be severed. Despite this, we continue to hear voices of concern and doubt from the public about whether or not Diet members from the LDP, including cabinet members and other prominent individuals, have had close ties with the group in question, because of media coverage of the matter.

As the president of the LDP, I offer my apologies with the utmost sincerity.

Taking the suspicions and concern of the citizens seriously to heart, as LDP president I have given instructions to LDP Secretary-General Motegi since last week regarding three points.

The first is to compile and then publicly disclose the results of a check on Diet members belonging to the LDP regarding the nature of relationships with the group in question, in order to fulfill our accountability as a party.

The second is to have all LDP Diet members reflect sincerely on the past, sever all ties, and break off all connections with the group in question. Taking this as a basic policy of the party, we will thoroughly carry out a severing of ties with the group for all LDP Diet members.

The third is to strengthen the party's system for checking compliance so that in the future there are no ties with groups identified as socially problematic.

The LDP will engage in a stringent response in order to realize accountability and restore the trust of the public.

Also, in order to take every precaution in our response to those who have been victimized by "spiritual sales" and other manipulative sales practices, the Government will naturally do its utmost, working together to provide relief to victims by establishing a liaison meeting of ministries and agencies relevant to the issue of the former Unification Church, chaired by the Justice Minister, and also a council within the Consumer Affairs Agency on measures to counter "spiritual sales" and other malevolent business practices.

4. The state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe

Next, I will address the state funeral for the late former Prime Minister Abe, scheduled for September 27.

I took the decision to hold a state funeral ceremony, in light of the act of violence against former Prime Minister Abe while he was making an election campaign appearance. He earned the trust of the Japanese people, winning six national elections, which are the very basis for our democracy, and shouldering weighty responsibility over eight years and eight months, the longest tenure as prime minister in our constitutional history. Second, he left a legacy of historic achievements in various fields, having led reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, revitalization of the Japanese economy, and strategic diplomacy positioning the Japan-U.S. relationship as the cornerstone, and having contributed to the peaceful world order. Third, countries around the world have expressed their respect and condolences involving the entire nation in various formats, such as various nations deciding on memorial resolutions in their parliaments, organizing periods of mourning, or lighting up public facilities with special illumination. Fourth, Mr. Abe met a violent death while conducting election campaign activities, which form the very root of democracy, and we will demonstrate our resolute stance as a nation that we will not yield to these acts of violence. This is how I have laid out the rationale by which I reached the decision to hold a state funeral.

Many dignitaries from overseas have conveyed to us their desire to attend, including royal family members, presidents, and others at the head of state and government level, both former and current. I feel strongly that it is incumbent upon us to respond with propriety as the nation of Japan to the respect and condolences we have received from other countries.

Although the holding of this state funeral does not compel members of the public to mourn, in addition to various views being expressed by the public, there has been criticism that the explanation for it has been insufficient. As the prime minister who took the decision to hold a state funeral, I take such comments and criticism very seriously, and I have a responsibility to respond squarely to them. In the spirit that this administration has embraced since its inception, I will spare no effort to provide a thoroughgoing explanation of the matter.

Towards that end, I aim to have the opportunity to respond, with television coverage, to questions about the decision I took regarding the state funeral by attending an off-session hearing at the Diet to deliberate the matter. Earlier I asked the secretaries-general and the chairs of the Diet Affairs Committees of the ruling parties to conduct the necessary coordination to organize such a venue at the earliest possible time. I very much hope for the cooperation of those in the opposition parties as well.

5. Measures to tackle COVID-19

My final topic is measures to tackle COVID-19.

Before the seventh wave, as a response that will help lead to a new economy and society in which we carry on with our daily lives with COVID-19 in the background, and based on the views of experts and people working on the front lines to tackle the virus, we will, on a nation-wide basis, conduct a review of the system of reporting all new COVID-19 cases daily, conduct a review of how long at-home recuperation should be for those who test positive for the virus, and press forward with our preparations to transition to the new stage, with the overall vision for a new recuperation system, including health follow-up centers, already decided upon, on the whole.

However, the priority is first of all to protect the lives of the elderly and others at high risk and emerge successfully from the seventh wave. To do this, on August 24 we announced urgently-compiled domestic infection countermeasures. From now, as we observe how the infection level changes, we will once again make an announcement at the appropriate timing regarding our overall image for transitioning to a new stage in which we live our normal lives with COVID-19 in the background.

At the same time, international exchanges are now becoming increasingly active in countries around the world. From the perspective of Japan also participating in those exchanges and of utilizing the benefits of a weaker yen, as for our border measures, from September 7 we will raise the cap on the number of daily entrants to Japan to 50,000 and undertake a further loosening of our policies, including allowing entry to people from anywhere in the world who are participating in package tours unaccompanied by a guide. We will also facilitate the smooth completion of entry procedures at the airport through improvements to MySOS, an application for confirming the health and whereabouts of those entering Japan.

6. Conclusion

We face a multitude of major issues, both domestically and internationally, that are normally seen only once every few decades. Rekindling the original spirit of this administration, I will restore the trust we have received from you, the public, by carefully explaining matters, whatever they may be, and producing results one after another.

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