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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, March 31, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issue regarding the consumption tax increase
  • The consultations between Japan-North Korea in Beijing
  • The issue of North Korea’s statement regarding nuclear test
  • The accident at the construction site on Okinotori Island
  • The issue regarding Strategic Energy Plan

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the consumption tax increase. The consumption tax rate will increase from 5% to 8% from tomorrow. Could you once again explain the significance of the consumption tax increase?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you just stated, the consumption tax rate will be 8% starting from tomorrow. The tax increase is aimed at covering social security expenses, which are rising every year, thereby improving our national finances. The Government will make efforts to ensure that the people could fully understand that this tax revenue will be used to raise the portion of the basic pension funded by the national treasury from a third to half. It will also be used to enhance supports for children and childcare, and also for other such measures. Furthermore, as we seek to exit deflation, we are making efforts to prevent any possible relapse in the Japanese economy that may take place as a result of a recoil reduction in demand following the consumption tax increase, and are striving to minimize any adverse economic impact. Our efforts include formulating an economic package in October last year, passing the supplementary budget in February, and executing the FY2014 budget ahead of schedule. Even after the consumption tax increase, we intend to provide explanations to the people to obtain their understanding as much as possible regarding its significance, its necessity, and measures to cope with it.  

REPORTER: What is your assessment to date of Abenomics or the economic policy of the Abe administration? Also, how much of a recoil reduction in demand do you anticipate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: During the former Hashimoto administration, the consumption tax rate increased by 2%, rising from 3% to 5%. As I have stated repeatedly, the Government has been taking multiple measures while conducting a variety of economic simulations, as it was the case during the Hashimoto administration. For example, when the consumption tax increase was decided, the Government unveiled an economic package, including tax reduction measures of 1 trillion yen and economic measures of over 5 trillion yen. The Government also set out the Economic Measures for Realization of Virtuous Cycles. Furthermore, in accordance with these measures, we established the supplementary and main budgets. As such, I believe that we have been taking thorough measures. Nevertheless, we will closely monitor the situation to ensure that there is no economic relapse and treat this as a matter of extremely important.    

REPORTER: Today is the second day of the Japan-North Korea director-general level consultations in Beijing. First, what information have you received regarding the first day of the consultations? Secondly, what are you hoping for from today’s consultations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I understand that yesterday’s consultations involved an earnest and candid exchange of views lasting over four hours or so. As the consultations are still ongoing, I would like to refrain from mentioning any specific details. In any case I am sure the Japanese side is addressing the abduction issue in line with the basic policy of the Abe administration. I believe we are also dealing with security issues, such as the nuclear and missile issues, in line with the basic policy of Japan. 

REPORTER: In the meantime, yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea released a sort of statement that said that it would not rule out a new form of nuclear test. How does the Government analyze this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This statement indeed threatens peace and stability. Therefore, as this is a security concern for Japan, we will take the current opportunity to lodge a firm protest, and at the same time, communicate our views to North Korea.

REPORTER: Judging from the exchanges between Mr. Ihara, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and Ambassador Song Il Ho, North Korea appears intent on improving its relationship with Japan. What is your assessment in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, an earnest and candid discussion took place, lasting over four hours. I will receive a briefing regarding the details upon the conclusion of the consultations.

REPORTER: A number of workers at the construction site on Okinotori Island have died, and I believe others remain missing. Can you give us any information you have?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would first like to express my condolences for the five people who have passed away. I would also like to express my sympathies to those who were injured. Upon receiving report of this accident, the Government set up an Information Liaison Office at the Prime Minister’s Office, and is currently working to collect information and coordinate the responses of the various agencies with a sense of urgency. At this moment, the Japan Coast Guard are leading a search for the two missing people. I am sure it goes without saying that the Government will make every effort to rescue and save their lives, and at the same time, investigate the cause of the accident and prevent a recurrence. The situation remains the same as it was yesterday.    


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Strategic Energy Plan. During his press conference on the 28th, Minister of the Environment Ishihara expressed the view that the Policy should set a numerical target for the share of renewable energy. Specifically he mentioned 30% by 2030. Is this the view of the Government? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand the Minister of the Environment stated that this was his personal opinion on the debate concerning the best energy mix following the establishment of the Strategic Energy Plan. I believe he was expressing his hope that over the course of discussions, the best energy mix would be coordinated within the Government. In any case, we will take into account the new Strategic Energy Plan when determining Japan’s future energy mix, including the renewable energy target.




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