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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, October 21, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The National Strategic Special Zones
  • The export of Japanese food and agricultural products
  • The possibility of Prime Minister Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine

REPORTER: During the meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives that is in session, the Prime Minister, in regard to the National Strategic Special Zones, has responded that the Government is considering not including ministers in charge of certain issues in the decision-making process of the Special Zone Promotion Headquarters established for each Special Zone. What is your view regarding this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Special Zones will mark one of the breakthroughs for overcoming the rigorous existing regulations. On that premise, indeed I believe, as the Prime Minister responded at the Budget Committee meeting not long ago, in principle the members will be the minister in charge of the Special Zones, as well as mayors and members of the private sector who will actually advance the work within the Special Zones.

REPORTER: I believe this likely means that, for example, in the area of employment, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare will be excluded from the decision-making. Do you believe this is necessary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As these are Special Zones, I believe the minister in charge of the Special Zones as well as mayors who will promote the projects should be at the core of the decision-making.

REPORTER: With regard to the Special Zone Advisory Council, which I believe will be an entity that is superior to the Special Zone Promotion Headquarters, some media have reported that the permanent members will consist of four ministers: the Prime Minister; the Chief Cabinet Secretary; the Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy; and the minister in charge of the Special Zones. What do you think of the permanent members?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are still at the stage of exploring an arrangement centered on the ministers you have just noted.

REPORTER: For example, is it correct that the Minister of State for Regulatory Reform could also potentially become a member?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This matter is now under review. However, in any case, the intention is for the Advisory Council to move the process of the establishment of Special Zones forward. Therefore, we hope to design a structure in which the Advisory Council will be able to exercise strong leadership with the Prime Minister at the center.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the export of Japanese food and agricultural products. The Abe administration has even identified a strategy to double exports. Can you once again explain how the export of Japanese food and agricultural products is positioned in the context of Abenomics?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: During the Prime Minister's overseas visits, the Prime Minister has brought Japanese food with him to his destinations, and with the attendance of relevant parties of the counterpart countries, promoted the excellence of Japanese food. I understand that this effort was highly praised and was very effective. It is forecasted that in the next ten years, the food market of the world will double from 340 trillion yen to 680 trillion yen, driven by Asia in particular. We believe it is critically important that we capture this growth for the development of Japan's agricultural, forestry and fishery industries as well as the food industry. In this context, it was unveiled at the end of August that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will implement an export strategy by country and product, with target amounts or priority areas decided for each priority product. Indeed, the Government will make concerted efforts towards doubling exports and achieving the export target of 1 trillion yen.

REPORTER: Just now you mentioned "Asia in particular." It is rumored that Prime Minister Abe will visit India in January. While I believe this potential India visit is still under review, what is your assessment of the market in India in light of its large population?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: India is indeed projected to experience population growth and extremely high economic growth. Therefore, we believe India is one of promising markets for Japan. Naturally, in India as well, we will carry out extensive efforts, including the promotion of Japanese food culture.


REPORTER: Yesterday, Mr. Hagiuda, Special Advisor to the President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), expressed the view that Prime Minister Abe will visit Yasukuni Shrine by the end of December, on the one-year anniversary of Mr. Abe's appointment as Prime Minister. Mr. Hagiuda expressed the opinion that the Prime Minister's view regarding Yasukuni remains unchanged and that he will definitely visit the shrine in one-year time span. What is your perception regarding what the Prime Minister's feelings are at this moment in time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have said a number of times, it was a source of great regret to the Prime Minister that he could not pay visits to Yasukuni Shrine while he was Prime Minister during the first Abe administration. I have stated this during my press conferences. I believe that says it all. In any case, I believe the Prime Minister himself will make a decision from a broad perspective. That is the bottom line.


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