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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, January 7, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Coordination on the Prime Minister's visit to the U.S. and other foreign countries
  • Monetary policy
  • The cyber attack incident targeting the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  • The decontamination work in Fukushima
  • LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Takaichi's comment on the TPP
  • Establishment of a variety of advisory councils and meetings of eminent persons

REPORTER: Regarding the itinerary of the visit to the United States (U.S.) of Prime Minister Abe, I understand that today the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs will be heading to the U.S. I presume this is also intended to pave the way for the Prime Minister's visit. What meaning do you yourself attach to the Vice-Minister's visit to the U.S.? Also, it seems that the U.S. is expressing scheduling problems in light of the President's inauguration ceremony and other events. I believe even within the Japanese Government, some are also expressing the opinion that a January visit to the U.S. will be difficult to realize. What is your own personal view on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs is currently visiting the U.S. I believe it is natural that views will be exchanged regarding the Prime Minister's visit to the U.S. As our intention with the inauguration of the Abe Cabinet is to rebuild Japan-U.S. relations, I believe these matters are among the topics of thorough discussions between the Vice-Minister and U.S. officials. And with regard to the Prime Minister's visit to the U.S., I understand that there are a variety of conflicts on the part of the U.S., such as the inauguration ceremony of the President, the "fiscal cliff," and the State of the Union address. However, in the telephone talks between the Prime Minister and President Obama, the two sides affirmed their intention to mutually rebuild Japan-U.S. relations and that the Prime Minister's visit to the U.S. would be desirable. Therefore, in light of these considerations, we are now in the stage of making arrangements. Therefore...


REPORTER: Is it possible that a country other than the U.S. will be the destination of the Prime Minister's first overseas visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Vice-Minister is currently traveling to the U.S. and making arrangements in the context of Japan-U.S. relations, and we will watch over the process.

REPORTER: Concerning the policy accord between the Government and the Bank of Japan (BoJ), Minister of Finance Aso stated that "There is no need at all to insist on the word, 'accord.'" What is your view on this policy accord scheme?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yesterday, I was with Deputy Prime Minister Aso on the Japan Broadcasting Corporation's TV program, "Nichiyo Toron (Sunday Debate)." I believe the statement was Deputy Prime Minister Aso's unique way of speaking. With the relationship being what it is between the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister is fully aware of the Prime Minister's wishes. Naturally, our vision or foremost goal is to indeed break out of the yen appreciation and deflation. Therefore, we will take steps toward this goal.

REPORTER: To confirm then, this means that the Prime Minister wishes to conclude a policy accord at the next BoJ meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not really sure about the word "accord." However, I believe we will be moving in that direction.

REPORTER: It is suspected that there was a cyber attack on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and that documents related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were stolen. Can you verify the facts and also explain the Government's countermeasures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I too found out about this through the media reports. This incident took place exactly a year ago and I believe MAFF has carefully conducted a variety of internal investigations on this issue since then. However, according to the intermediate report I have received, it is still unclear whether such materials have been leaked. This therefore needs to be thoroughly investigated.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the decontamination work of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Asahi Shimbun reported that shoddy work was being carried out, including the dumping of collected soil, branches and leaves, and other debris into nearby rivers and elsewhere, and I understand that the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) will start investigations. This work was kick-started as a major national project amounting to 650 billion yen. Can you please explain how the Government intends to tackle the fact that such an incident has occurred?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, this is absolutely impermissible, and it is extremely regrettable. As for the Government, MOE has immediately commenced investigations. This needs to be thoroughly investigated and rigorous measures must be taken. I would like to apologize also to the people of Japan. MOE is currently carefully conducting investigations and shedding light on the facts, and I would like to await its report.


REPORTER: Returning to the subject of decontamination, some people have said that MOE alone does not have sufficient personnel or the capacity to take adequate responses. How do you intend to address these issues?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We recognize that reconstruction has been slow, including the decontamination. I believe this is why the Prime Minister appointed Mr. Nemoto, who has a good understanding of the local area, as the Minister for Reconstruction. This latest incident is absolutely impermissible. Therefore, the Prime Minister instructed that the Minister takes measures as quickly as possible, putting himself in the shoes of the local people. In fact, the Prime Minister strongly instructed all Cabinet members to take measures by way of supporting the people in the disaster areas, as if they are all Ministers for Reconstruction. It is our intention to accelerate the reconstruction process.

REPORTER: In a TV program yesterday, Chairman Takaichi of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) made a statement suggesting that she was optimistic about Japan's participation in the TPP negotiations. This can be interpreted as a change in the LDP's position to date. What is your view on Ms. Takaichi's statement? Also, can you please explain the policy of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, regarding the Government's policy, the Government's policy is that, as I have stated many times also at these press conferences, Japan will not participate in the negotiations if the precondition is the abolition of customs tariffs without considering any areas to be off-limits. This is a principle of the Government. Secondly, today, I saw the newspaper reports regarding Policy Research Council Chairman Takaichi. However, based on what she has said before and after this, Chairman Takaichi's views seem to be contrary to the newspaper reports. I believe the views of the Chairman have not changed at all.

REPORTER: Regarding the overseas visits of the Prime Minister, does Prime Minister Abe have any plans to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting (Davos meeting) which will be held in Switzerland?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe it will be difficult for the Prime Minister to attend the Davos meeting in light of various situations.

REPORTER: With respect to overseas visits, it is rumored that arrangements are also being made for the Prime Minister to visit the Republic of Korea (ROK) following his visit to the U.S. Can you discuss the status of the arrangements or whether it has been decided that the ROK will be the destination after the U.S.?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe this has not yet been finalized. I myself have not been briefed on the details.


REPORTER: As early as by the end of this month, a variety of advisory councils and meetings of eminent persons are expected to be launched within the Government. At this moment, by when do you intend to set up, for example, the National Security Council (NSC) or the respective councils for a wide range of issues, including the understanding of history, right to collective self-defense, and education? Also, how do you intend to select the members of the councils? If you can please speak on these matters.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, with regard to the review of the right to collective self-defense, during the previous first Abe Cabinet, the Prime Minister resigned before he heard the report of those who were asked to be the members of the relevant council. We would like to start by hearing their report. As for NSC and the issues you mentioned, we intend to establish the councils while watching the timing. Without too much of a delay, we intend to move forward with the councils we are currently ready to announce.


REPORTER: What is your general image of the members?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be determined going forward. I believe those with expertise in these areas will be the core members.

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