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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, February 10, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary(Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

Measures to combat AIDS are also one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and are an important challenge that should be addressed globally. In relation to this, the second meeting of the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Lancet Commission will be held on February 13 and 14, and Mrs. Akie Abe, a member of the commission, will visit the United Kingdom to attend this meeting. At the commission meeting, discussion is expected to take place on future initiatives by the international community to resolve the AIDS issue. To date, Mrs. Abe has experience in conducting AIDS educational activities through the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development and other initiatives. We therefore hope that through attending this meeting, she will communicate the knowledge Japan has acquired both domestically and internationally, and actively contribute to discussions aimed at further driving international initiatives in the fight against AIDS. For more details on the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission, and the itinerary for Mrs. Abe's visit, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


  • The issues related to the Tokyo gubernatorial election
  • The issues related to Japan-Russia relations
  • The issues related to the 2013 current account surplus
  • The issues related to Sovereignty Restoration Day

REPORTER: In relation to the Tokyo gubernatorial election, the election ballots were counted yesterday, and Mr. Masuzoe, who was backed by the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) and New Komeito, won the election. Could you share with us how you view this result and your analysis regarding the reason for his success?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it was regrettable that voter turnout was low as a result of the heavy snowfall. Nevertheless, I believe that the election result was a reflection of Tokyo residents' calm and careful assessment of each candidate's policies, their ability to execute these policies, and their sense of responsibility. In particular, the Tokyo chapters of both the LDP and New Komeito endorsed and supported Mr. Masuzoe, and I believe this most favorable election outcome was achieved by the headquarters of each party truly working as one in supporting him. We hope that as the new Governor of Tokyo Mr. Masuzoe will work in cooperation with the Abe administration to drive the Tokyo Metropolitan Government forward and improve the lives of citizens, ensure safety and security, and prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, among other initiatives.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to nuclear power policy. I understand that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) held a party convention on the weekend and compiled recommendations demanding the establishment of the final disposal site for radioactive waste in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Prime Minister Abe's home constituency. In the recommendation, the DPJ asserts that unless the Prime Minister has the determination  to take final responsibility, the issue will not be resolved. How do you view these assertions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regardless of whether nuclear power plants are to be restarted or not, there already exists 17,000 tons of spent fuel. Therefore, this is an extremely serious issue and the Abe administration's policy is to deal with the issue in a thorough manner now and not to leave it to the next generation. In line with this policy, we believe we must determine the final disposal site based on thorough assessments from a scientific perspective. In light of this, the Inter-Ministerial Council for the Final Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste was established in December last year with myself serving as chairperson. By establishing a policy that will allow the national Government to select appropriate sites at its own discretion, for instance, the council decided to revise the very process for determining the disposal site and is currently engaged in discussions. As such, the Government is truly advancing this issue with its responsibility. In any case, the Government will decide on the location of the disposal site in a responsible manner, on a thorough scientific assessment of Japan as a whole.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister went to Sochi and held talks with President Putin. I understand that the two leaders agreed that the President would visit Japan this autumn. What are your thoughts on the outcome of this meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, senior officials present at the meeting, as well as the Prime Minister himself, informed me of the details. They said that the meeting proceeded in a very amicable mood. I also heard that the meeting had a very friendly atmosphere with both leaders referring to each other using their first names, for instance. It was decided during the meeting that a Japan-Russia summit meeting will also be held during the G8 Summit in June. Furthermore, it was also agreed that President Putin will visit Japan in autumn. Additionally, the leaders decided that the two countries will further advance Japan-Russia cooperation in a broad range of fields including economics, national security, people-to-people exchanges, and regional and international issues. Moreover, the leaders openly exchanged opinions on the issue of the conclusion of the peace treaty. It was also agreed that the leaders will continue to seek further discussions on this issue. In terms of building a personal relationship of trust with President Putin, I am glad that the Prime Minister received the approval of the Diet and was able to visit Russia. I believe that the meeting has given us hope for the development of Japan-Russia relations in the coming year.

REPORTER: Am I right to understand that the leaders agreed to meet in June?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, I was informed that they agreed to hold a Japan-Russia summit meeting.

REPORTER: The 2013 current account surplus for the complete year was at an all time low. How do you analyze this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The current account surplus for 2013 was 3.3061 trillion yen. The surplus is smaller than last year and the lowest since records began in 1985. With this background, the income balance recorded a significant surplus. On the other hand, imports of fuels increased due to the shutting down of nuclear power stations following the Great East Japan Earthquake, and other factors. In light of this, in 2013 an all-time high deficit of 10.6 trillion yen was recorded. This can be attributed to a larger increase in import prices compared to export prices due to the weakening yen, among other factors. Furthermore, factors such as the slowing demand from developing nations and resource-rich nations, and the decision of Japanese companies to hardly reduce prices in foreign markets despite the weaker yen, have also led to a decline in exports. Additionally, it appears that there was a recovery in import volumes due to greater domestic demand. This can all be cited as contributing factors. Nevertheless we can expect foreign economies as a whole to gain underlying strength. Furthermore, in light of the trend to date of a weakening yen, we can also expect that exports will gradually move towards a recovery. In any case, we would like to keep a close eye on future developments.

REPORTER: In relation to the ceremony to be hosted by the Government on April 28, Sovereignty Restoration Day, it has been reported that the event will be canceled this year. Could you share with us how the arrangements are currently progressing? If the event is to be canceled, could you share with us the reason for the cancellation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Last year the Government hosted the ceremony. The Government announced, in relation to the future hosting of the ceremony, that it would hold the ceremony from time to time at certain milestones, while considering the various circumstances involved. The recent decision was made in light of this policy. Following last year's event, the Government decided that it will hold the ceremony at certain milestones.

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