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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, November 21, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issue related to the island formed as a result of volcanic activities
  • The issue related to the special intelligence protection bill
  • The U.S. President's visit to Japan
  • The issue related to Government Pension Investment Fund
  • The safety of Japanese national in the Philippines affected by the typhoon

REPORTER: Regarding the Ogasawara Islands, a new island has formed as a result of volcanic activities. Has the Government confirmed this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, yesterday afternoon, an aircraft of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) confirmed that a new island with a diameter of about 200m had formed in waters near the Nishinoshima Island of the Ogasawara Islands and was giving off volcanic smoke. Accordingly, JCG issued a navigational warning to ensure the safety of vessels, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued a near-crater warning, respectively. The Government will continue to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of vessels and other vehicles and monitor the volcanic activities.

REPORTER: In that case, will the land be certified as an island or will a name be given to the land?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In fact, there have been similar cases in the past. However, there were also cases in which the new islands formed by underwater volcanoes and their eruptions have later disappeared. Therefore, we would like to monitor the activities for some time. It will be dependent on that.

REPORTER: I believe these cases seldom occur. Can you please share your impressions if any?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It would be nice if Japan's territorial waters expand - because if this land becomes a full-fledged island, then Japan's territorial waters will expand. That is what I think.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the special intelligence protection bill. Yesterday, the consultations with the Japan Restoration Party (JPR) to revise the bill were finalized, and so now four parties support this bill and a framework was formulated. What are your thoughts concerning this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Ever since this bill was submitted to the Diet, revision consultations have been conducted based on the Prime Minister's wish to receive support from as many political parties as possible. In that respect, we are very pleased to have been able to obtain the understanding of Your Party followed by the understanding of the JPR. There are also ongoing consultations with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and we would like to watch over the progress of the consultations.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I can see that on the one hand, due to the nature of the matter, it is inevitable that you are pursuing this way of revision consultations. However, on the other hand, as the DPJ has criticized, there were noticeably many empty seats at committees such as yesterday's meeting of the special committee. The revision consultations are, in a sense, taking place behind closed doors, concealed from the eyes of the public or us. And at open door meetings of the committee, many members of ruling parties are noticeably absent. It seems that the revision consultations have completely taken over the discussions, away from the original battlefield, the Committee, where these discussions should essentially be taking place.. What do you think about this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally it is the Committee that decides. The respective items which were agreed upon during the revision consultations will be decided through the discussions at the Committee. Therefore, the Government hopes that sufficient discussions will take place at the Committee, and believes that naturally they will.

REPORTER: Regarding the visit to Japan by the U.S. President, the National Security Advisor to the U.S. President, Ms. Rice, revealed in her remarks that President Obama will visit Asia in April. As for Japan, I believe Prime Minister Abe invited President Obama to visit Japan on the occasion of the Japan-U.S. summit meeting in St. Petersburg. What is the current status of the arrangements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the delivery of such remarks yesterday. We have been informed by the U.S. Government that the specific timing and the destinations of President Obama's Asia visit are still undecided. As you just noted, during the Japan-U.S. summit meeting in September, in response to Prime Minister Abe's request to President Obama to visit Japan, President Obama stated that he would definitely like to arrange a visit. Therefore, in light of this, we are currently coordinating with the U.S.

REPORTER: Then to confirm, arrangements are being made based on Japan's request that President Obama will visit Japan in April if possible?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What the Prime Minister said was that he hopes President Obama will visit Japan next year. As I'm sure the timing also depends on the circumstances of the President, we have been informed that these matters are currently being coordinated.

REPORTER: Yesterday, regarding the measures which should be taken after evacuees from the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station return to their homes, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) requested that residents individually manage their radiation exposure and that counselors are made available. What is the Government's view regarding these proposals?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yesterday, the NRA compiled basic ideas from a scientific and technical perspective regarding the measures which should be taken according to the dose level in order for affected residents to return to their homes. The report discusses the assignment of counselors. The Government would like to take steps to realize the proposals, also bearing in mind the proposals recently received from the ruling parties.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF). An experts' meeting has proposed the lowering of the ratio of government bonds, which make up more than half of the GPIF's operating assets. First, what is the Government's assessment of this proposal? Secondly, what is the Abe administration's view on the ideal modality of the GPIF?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A variety of opinions have been raised to date regarding the GPIF. Accordingly, I understand that two proposals have been made in the report. The first concerns the operational management system that GPIF should aim towards, and the second concerns the roadmap. In any case, we would like the relevant ministries and agencies to carry out reviews based on these proposals, taking into account the size and nature of their respective funds.

REPORTER: In this connection, regarding the reviews, for example, there are still cautious views within the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). Also, even among experts who are not members of the experts' meeting hold cautious views and question to invest the pension funds, the people's important assets, in, for instance, risk money or stocks. What are your views regarding these aspects?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We consider that it is important to also make comparisons with other countries. In any case, I believe reviews will be carried out in light of the proposals, under the leadership of the MHLW, which is the ministry in charge.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I think the business community has high expectations with regard to the GPIF, and this is something which would lead to further increases in stock prices and other moves. What are your expectations in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, as is written in the report, concrete proposals were made regarding the operational management system as well as the roadmap from the perspective of fund management. Therefore, based on the report, I believe reviews will be carried out under the leadership of the MHLW.


Incidentally, with regard to the Philippines, I would like to report that of the 133 Japanese nationals, the safety of 126 nationals in total has now been confirmed.

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