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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, December 16, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The outcome of the Short-Term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan (Tankan)
  • The issues related to the Air Defense Identification Zone established by China
  • The issue related to the public opinion survey
  • The issue of a Japanese diplomat attacked by an armed group in Yemen

REPORTER: The Short-Term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan (Tankan) was released by the Bank of Japan (BOJ). The business confidence of large enterprises in the manufacturing industry was plus16 points, improving for the fourth consecutive quarter. What is the Government's analysis of this outcome?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the BOJ's Tankan which was released today, business conditions improved for both large enterprises and small enterprises. We understand that this outcome significantly exceeded prior forecasts. In particular, with respect to small enterprises, the Tankan for the manufacturing industry turned positive for the first time since the December 2007 survey and the Tankan for the non-manufacturing industry turned positive for the first time since the March 1992 survey. I believe this is the biggest highlight of the December Tankan. The latest outcomes show that there continue to be positive movements in the enterprise sector, including continued improvements in both business conditions and profits as well as fixed investment. Furthermore, we understand that signs of economic recovery are beginning to be seen also among small enterprises. The Government will continue to steadily promote the three arrows. In addition, we will work decisively to translate into action the Economic Measures for Realization of Positive Cycles, which was approved by the Cabinet on December 5, as well as the economic policy package, including government-labor-management partnerships, and make every effort to exit deflation and revitalize the economy. At the same time, we will work hard to ensure that everyone across the country experiences the economic recovery firsthand.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). China has objected to Prime Minister Abe's statements about restraining China regarding its establishment of the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), expressing strong dissatisfaction that Prime Minister Abe used an international forum to maliciously slander China. What is your reaction regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit, Japan and ASEAN agreed to cooperate for ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and the safety of private aircrafts. At the Summit, Japan and ASEAN recognized the importance of resolving disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law. However, this was not directed toward any specific country. On that note, I would like to say that the East China Sea ADIZ recently established by China unduly infringes the freedom of flight in international airspace, which is the general principle of international law.

Furthermore, Japan believes that China should attach weight to the reality that many countries in the international community have concerns about this ADIZ and should take it seriously.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the public opinion survey that Fuji TV and Sankei Shimbun conducted over the weekend. According to the survey, the approval rating of the Cabinet was 47.4%, around 9% lower compared to the previous survey. Could you please share your thoughts regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated repeatedly, it is better to have a higher rather than a lower Cabinet approval. However, we, the Government, would like to ask for the people's judgment by carrying out our tasks one by one with integrity and making progress one step at a time. On this basis, we will continue to make diligent efforts.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In the survey, 50.5% of the respondents said that the special intelligence protection bill was necessary, which was more than the 42.7% who responded that it was unnecessary. You have long said that the Government would like to obtain the understanding of the people regarding the special intelligence protection bill. What is your take on the increase in the percentage of people who feel that the bill is necessary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In fact, amid the extremely severe security environment surrounding Japan, the Government believes that this bill is critically important in the sense of protecting the security of the state and the lives and assets of the people. In this context, we have submitted to the Diet the special intelligence protection bill at the time when the National Security Council (NSC) bill was passed.. In this sense, we appreciate an improvement in the understanding among the people even to a small degree.

REPORTER: A related question. In this survey, while the approval rating declined by 9%, people's understanding of the special intelligence protection bill has increased. Accordingly, in fact, do you analyze that there was a problem with the content of the bill itself? Or do you analyze that there was a problem with the way that the bill was passed such as the slightly rushed process and insufficient explanation? Which of the two do you think is the case?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the biggest reason was that there wasn't a correct understanding of the purpose of the law as well as of its importance.

REPORTER: Which of the two or what do you think caused this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the Diet deliberations, we did carry out the procedures in reaching an agreement on the revised bill, with the inclusion of the opposition parties. This was not what the media reported. Perhaps that too had a large impact.

REPORTER: So you're saying that the media is at fault?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From an objective view point, our interpretation was that the fact that agreement reached on the revised bill reflected a consensus to a considerable extent. It seemed that after all, we and the media differed on this point.

REPORTER: A Japanese diplomat has been attacked by an armed group in Yemen. Could you please share the facts which you are aware of?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the morning of the 15th, local time, a secretary at the Japanese Embassy was attacked by a two-person armed group on his commute by car in Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen. The perpetrators stole the secretary's vehicle and took off. The Embassy official was stabbed by a knife and injured his head, both arms, and back, but according to hospital tests, these injuries are not life-threatening. Due to the worsening of the security situation, an evacuation advisory has been issued for this area.

REPORTER: A related question. It has been reported in the media that this was a kidnapping attack. What is the Government's interpretation regarding the type of incident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than a kidnapping - as the investigations by Yemeni authorities are still ongoing, we are not yet aware of what the intentions were.


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