Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  January 2014 >  Wednesday, January 8, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issues related to the foreign ministerial meeting between the United States-Republic of Korea
  • The issue related to the personal attack on Prime Minister Abe by the newspaper of Communist Party of China
  • The issue related to the Japan-Turkey Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement
  • The issues related to the visit to African countries by Prime Minister Abe
  • The issues related to Abenomics
  • The issue related to the employment of foreign workers related to construction rush toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the United States-Republic of Korea (ROK) foreign ministerial meeting. Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se of the ROK has stated that issues surrounding the understanding of history are impeding reconciliation and cooperation in Northeast Asia. I believe that this statement was made with the visit of Prime Minister Abe to Yasukuni Shrine in mind. What are the thoughts of the Government with regard to this statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although there are some difficult issues that face Japan-ROK relations, as I have always said, the ROK is positioned as the most important neighboring country for Japan. Also, as the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated, our door is always open for dialogue. The Government will continue to seek to build cooperative relations with the ROK from a broad perspective, while also firmly and consistently explaining Japan's ideas and concepts.

REPORTER: It appears that Secretary of State John Kerry of the United States did not make any reference to this matter. What are your thoughts concerning the response of the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not know precisely what comments were made by Secretary of State Kerry; but whatever the case, the point of fundamental importance here is that the Prime Minister will tenaciously explain his intentions with a sense of humbleness to obtain understandings.

REPORTER: Yesterday the People's Daily newspaper, a state-run newspaper of the Communist Party of China, launched a vociferous personal attack on Prime Minister Abe. What are your thoughts about that fact, that although the Government's stance is that the "door is open to dialogue," the Chinese stance is to strengthen its criticisms in this way?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the various media reports on this matter. The Government's stance is to respond in a calm and firm manner, under which we will continue to explain thoroughly our country's position. Against this backdrop, I think advancing cultural and economic exchanges with China is important to promote and develop the relations

REPORTER: With regard to the Japan-Turkey Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement, I understand that yesterday, the Prime Minister stated that this would be a top priority issue in the next session of the Diet. In specific terms, what are the Government's thoughts with regard to the timing of the approval of such an agreement, among other elements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The date for the opening of the Diet session is something that I request in the Standing Committee on Rules and Administration and it is decided there. In light of this, as the matter of the agreement that you mentioned was something that could not be passed in the previous Diet session, I believe it is natural to be a priority issue in the upcoming session.


REPORTER: From tomorrow, the Prime Minister will embark on a visit to the Middle East and Africa. Africa is rich in natural resources, and is also a region where large-scale economic growth will be expected. Could you tell us about the aims of the Prime Minister's visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) held in Yokohama in June last year, the Prime Minister expressed his desire to visit Africa at the earliest possible opportunity. In particular, Africa has been achieving remarkable economic growth in recent years, and I believe that its presence in the international community is increasing tremendously. Through the Prime Minister's visit on this occasion, by strengthening economic cooperation, including the promotion of business ties with African countries, and by strongly highlighting Japan's contributions to peace and stability, the Government seeks to further enhance relations with the countries of Africa. In addition, on the occasion of the TICAD V conference, the Prime Minister stated that Japan will provide cooperation and support for the various issues that Africa faces and to begin with, Japan will support self-help efforts of African countries I believe that the Prime Minister will also present a response to Africa that includes such other measures as human resource development, healthcare and sanitation support, and humanitarian assistance.

REPORTER: China is also providing tremendous sums in assistance to Africa, but at TICAD V last year, the leaders of Africa expressed dissatisfaction that this assistance from China is not resulting in the creation of employment, nor is it helping to advance technological transfer. How will the Government promote assistance that has a uniquely Japanese character, from here on out?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, in this regard I believe that, assistance for the self-help efforts of the each African country will be important. As the Prime Minister stated in his address at TICAD V, indeed, the areas of human resource development, healthcare and sanitation support, as well as the humanitarian issues that are rooted in various countries, are all areas that are specialties of Japan; and are also, I think, areas which will be important for the countries of Africa in the future. I believe that it is with an intention to focus on such areas that the Prime Minister is making his visit to Africa, seeking to ensure that assistance is not just temporary in nature, but can become deeply-rooted.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to North Korea. January 8 is considered to be the birthday of Kim Jong-un, First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea. Following the purge of Jang Sung-taek, there has been speculation of a spate of personnel decisions, including personnel changes within the North Korean ministers among other matters. How does the Government view the current situation, and what is the Government's thought on the future situation in North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, it is a fact that Jang Sung-taek, Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, was summarily executed immediately after he was removed from his post. I believe that the system led by First Secretary Kim Jong-un will continue to be further developed. While Japan deepens its concern for resolving outstanding issues, including the nuclear, missile, and abduction issues, the Government will maintain close cooperation with the countries concerned, and monitor the situation calmly with a sense of alert.


REPORTER: At the end of last year, I believe, Professor Koichi Hamada, who has been one of the spiritual supporters of "Abenomics," gave a rating of "A.B.E." linking the name of the Prime Minister. The "A" grade was for the first arrow of the Japan Revitalization Strategy; namely, monetary policy. The "B" grade was for the second arrow of fiscal policy. However, the third arrow of growth strategy received only an "E" grade, thus spelling out "ABE." The third arrow of growth strategy has thus been given a very severe evaluation by the professor, and many overseas investors share a similar opinion. What are your thoughts with regard to the third arrow for economic revitalization?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The first two arrows relate to monetary and fiscal policy, and the third arrow relates to growth strategy. Honestly speaking, only one year has passed since these policies were introduced. I think it is probably a fact that there are very few matters relating to the arrows that can be immediately implemented within one year. However, indeed, through the passage of various items of legislation in the previous extraordinary session of the Diet last year, including the Industrial Competitiveness Enhancement Act, the Act on National Strategic Special Zones, and the revision of the Electricity Business Act, I believe that this year, an environment is now in place for concrete actions that will steadily advance the third arrow forward and bring forth results. In that sense, in order for us to earn an "A" grade for all three arrows this year, the Government will continue to make every endeavor to achieve an exit from deflation and fiscal consolidation.

REPORTER: There are concerns that the construction rush toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will result in a labor shortage in the construction industry. What are the Government's thoughts concerning amendment to immigration-related laws and ordinances that would expand the scope for employment of foreign workers?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, regarding the current situation, the Government is also aware that with demand for construction increasing due to the holding of the Olympics and also relating to reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake, a lack of human resources and a lack of materials in the construction industry present a significant issue. Against this backdrop, I believe that it will be important to utilize potential labor forces, including the younger generation. At the same time, given that construction demand is expected to continue as we head towards the Olympics, the Government would like to give serious consideration to the issue of foreign workers, taking into account such factors as the scale of employment, the domestic labor market, and the impact on the lives of the people of Japan.

Page Top

Related Link