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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, April 26, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Cabinet members' public overseas visits during Golden Week holidays
  • The Liaison Meeting on Enhancing Global Communication in the Government of Japan
  • The issue of the treatment of contaminated water in Fukushima
  • The Japan Squid Fisheries Association's decision to halt fishing
  • The Verification Committee on the Terrorist Incident against the Japanese Nationals in Algeria

REPORTER: Please let me pose some questions to you. I understand that a total of 12 Cabinet members will be away on public overseas visits during Golden Week holidays and it seems to me that this number, 12, is very large. In light of the current tense international situation, including the North Korean issue, could you share with us your thoughts on this as well as the reasons or objectives for sending the 12 officials overseas?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A number of Cabinet members will be heading overseas and yes, there has been quite a bit of tension recently, however the Government has in place measures to ensure that the lives and safety of citizens are protected in any possible situation. The situation could develop in any direction; therefore Senior Vice Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries will act on behalf of their respective ministries and agencies as the situation demands. As for the ministers, acting ministers have been appointed to ensure all outcomes are accounted for and we are thus prepared for any situation.

Many countries are yet to lift their import restrictions on Japanese products due to harmful rumors in relation to the Great East Japan Earthquake. However due to the Diet sessions we have not had many opportunities to travel overseas and I believe it is extremely important that those ministers responsible for the various matters meet their counterparts in person to inform them of the safety of Japanese products.

Additionally, we have encouraged Cabinet members to make the most of Golden Week to engage in strategic foreign diplomacy, such as the development of the Japanese economy and addressing energy issues. This is also one of the reasons for sending ministers overseas.

REPORTER: During your address to the Liaison Meeting on Enhancing Global Communication held earlier today, you mentioned a number of areas in which the Government will work under the theme of growth strategy and reconstruction. Could you tell us exactly what you are hoping to communicate to the international community?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: For example, Abenomics has been drawing much international attention. We would like to let the world know of our economic policies and our easing of regulations. Furthermore, due to reputational damages from radiation-related rumors, there are still many countries that have import restrictions in place because they believe that Japanese products are dangerous. The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) will also be held in Yokohama, so we would like to communicate information on these things to the world. There have been various criticisms that the amount of information that Japan communicates to the rest of the world is limited in comparison to other countries, and also that the methods by which information is communicated is not centralized. I admit that this was in fact the case in many instances.

In light of this, we have launched this liaison meeting, which will allow the Cabinet Secretariat to centralize communication and allow the strategic communication of information to the rest of the world. Moving forward we would like to effectively and efficiently communicate the stance of Japan to the international community.

REPORTER: I believe that this afternoon, representatives from the Japan Fisheries Cooperatives asked the Government to establish a group who will be able to address the issue of the treatment of contaminated water in Fukushima. I believe that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is the ministry responsible for this matter but could you tell us if the Prime Minister's Office is planning to be involved in addressing this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I did not meet the representatives myself but I believe it was the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary that met them. I will find out more about this later but regardless, I believe that it is the Government's responsibility, rather than being entirely the responsibility of MAFF, to ensure that all the concerns of the individuals in the fishing industry are dealt with. Therefore we would like to make every effort to ensure this happens.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a fisheries related topic. The Japan Squid Fisheries Association, or the squid fishing industry, has decided to halt fishing following the sharp increase in the cost of fuel due to the depreciation of the yen. Could you tell us the Government's view on this and how the Government would like to address this issue?


CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Together with the fishing industry, the Government has been accumulating financial reserves. We have a project that allows us to compensate fishermen in the event that fuel prices rise, and we have earmarked 3.5 billion yen as Government reserves. Therefore I believe that we are prepared, to some degree, for future price rises. Either way, the Government will keep a close eye on crude oil price fluctuations and respond as necessary.

REPORTER: An experts' meeting in relation to the incident in Algeria will be held today. Based on this discussion, what lessons do you believe you will be able to learn from the incident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: After the meeting I will be receiving a report. I was part of the Verification Committee on the Terrorist Incident against the Japanese Nationals in Algeria and I once again recognize the need to maintain ongoing cooperation between the Government and private companies in preparing for terrorism. Incidents such as this should not be allowed to take place, however when they do occur, ongoing cooperation between Governments and private companies will allow us to be more prepared and thus may allow us to minimize the damage. Therefore, we would like to once again examine and strengthen cooperation between the Government and the private sector.

REPORTER: I believe that driven by the global economy, public/private infrastructure exports will likely increase, but so will the possibility of terrorism. Do you believe that, in this sense, the responsibility of the Government will increase? I would like to ask another question regarding intelligence matters. Compared to some other countries, Japan was somewhat behind in this area. Could you share with us the Government's plans for the human resources and Government structures that will be responsible for intelligence?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We always anticipated that Japan would interact more with the international community, and I believe that we will have more opportunities to do so.

When we are in Japan, we tend to think that Japan is the most peaceful and safest country in the world. Therefore when we do go out of Japan we should not assume that this is the case everywhere in the world and act with the knowledge that such incidents could happen.

In this sense I believe that developing human resources for intelligence, as you said, is very important.

REPORTER: Golden Week starts tomorrow and as the Prime Minister will be overseas, I believe that you are expected to be on standby for long stretches in Tokyo. I believe you have been quite busy yourself and this time may give you a chance to reflect on things. Do you have anything in particular that you would like to do during Golden Week?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Thank you for asking. I have been running non-stop for the last four months, so to speak, so I would like to take this chance to catch my breath. Japan however has a number challenges to be addressed, beginning with the House of Councillors election and other issues, so I might read some books to help me better tackle those challenges.


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