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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • The Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize
  • A new appointment of a Special Advisor to the Cabinet

The Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize aims to honor individuals or organizations with outstanding achievements in the fields of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa, thus contributing to the health and welfare of the African people and of all humankind.

I would like to announce that a decision has been made concerning the two recipients of the Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize. In the Medical Research category, the prize will be granted to Dr. Peter Piot of Belgium, and in the Medical Services category, to Dr. Alex G. Coutinho of Uganda.

The award ceremony of the Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize is scheduled to take place on June 1, at the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Yokohama. The prize winners will be presented with a citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen. Through this prize it is hoped that the outstanding work of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi will be recognized around the world and that interest in both Japan and overseas will be heightened with regard to efforts to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa.

For further details relating to the prize, please direct your questions to the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Unit in the Cabinet Office.

My second announcement concerns personnel matters. I would like to report that as of today, Professor Yasunori Yoshimura, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the School of Medicine of Keio University has been appointed as a Special Advisor to the Cabinet. Prof. Yoshimura will receive his letter of appointment from the Prime Minister later today.

Given the fact that Prof. Yoshimura has outstanding knowledge in the field of obstetrics and gynecology and serves in a variety of positions, including deputy director of Keio University Hospital and president of a related academic organization, he will be well qualified to provide information and advice to the Prime Minister on the topics of measures to counter the declining birthrate and support for child-raising. In addition, he will provide advice to Minister of State for Measures for Declining Birthrate Mori, concerning the formulation of measures to counter the declining birthrate.


  • The hostage incident in Algeria
  • The Abe administration's policies for economic revitalization


REPORTER: I have a question relating to press reports about the hostage incident in Algeria. According to these reports, Minister of Interior and Local Governments Ould Kablia of Algeria has stated that he was approached by Japan concerning the provision of ransom money, but that he rejected such a proposal. What are the facts behind these reports and is the Government aware of the statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no truth whatsoever to the claim that the Government made a request to pay ransom money.


REPORTER: Is it the case therefore that JGC Corporation made a request to pay ransom money?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am unaware of this, but I think that it is highly unlikely.


REPORTER: The Minister of Interior and Local Governments, who was the contact for the Government of Japan in Algeria during the incident, has made this statement in a public forum. Does the Government intend to issue a protest or request that the minister correct his statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I am unaware of the circumstances in which the statement was made, the first thing that the Government seeks to do is to examine the circumstances surrounding the statement.


REPORTER: Do you intend to inquire with the Algerian side concerning the intention of the statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have only just found out about these reports in the evening editions of the newspapers. The basic stance of the Government of Japan is never under any circumstances to yield to terrorism and there was never at any point a request made to provide ransom money. Therefore, the Government would like to examine the context in which the statement was made.


REPORTER: Various responses have been issued to the annual spring labor offensive, and many companies, including automobile and electric manufacturers have stated that they will respond in full to the submitted requests. Could I ask first of all for the reaction and evaluation of the Government, given that this is an administration that has pursued a policy of "Abenomics"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The responses that have been made are something that the Government would like to welcome. The Prime Minister has already made a request to representatives of business and economic circles that he would like companies that have achieved improved business results to increase remuneration for employees. Now that we are actually seeing a response, this is something that the Government would like to sincerely welcome. We will continue to seek to revitalize the Japanese economy by further efforts to implement the three-pronged approach set out by the Prime Minister, of which employment and increases in income are very important and something that we are working to achieve. We will continue to communicate closely with representatives of business and economic circles and further accelerate measures aimed at overcoming deflation in a full-fledged manner.

REPORTER: You have just mentioned communication with business and economic circles, and it has been the case that to date Prime Minister Abe and Deputy Prime Minister Aso have been engaged in somewhat unconventional actions for a prime minister and deputy prime minister, calling directly on individual companies to raise wages. How do you evaluate the effect of such actions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although the Government has been in power for barely three months, in that space of time the effects of firstly bold monetary easing and secondly flexible fiscal measures have started to become apparent and there is now a sense of anticipation. The third policy of encouraging private sector investment is something that we have also advanced, and with the combined effects of a depreciating yen and increasing share prices, business and economic circles have seen their revenues increase. It is against such a backdrop that the companies have announced a full response to the requests issued in the course of the annual spring labor offensive. By continuing to implement each policy with a sense of speed towards the revitalization of the economy, our primary aim is to ensure an enriched life and livelihood for the people of Japan. We will therefore continue to make every effort to increase employment and income.

REPORTER: The responses to the spring labor offensive have to date been made by a small number of large companies, such as Toyota and others. However, it is small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that account for employment of 70% of the Japanese working population. To date Prime Minister Abe has called on large companies to take action, but does the Government intend to request cooperation from SMEs in raising wages or promote such wage increases through policy means?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally that will be the case. The Government seeks to revitalize the economy so that as many of the working population of Japan as possible can enjoy the benefits of increased employment and wages.


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