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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Consumption tax increase
  • Submission of the bill regarding amendment of the national referendum act
  • Situation in Ukraine

REPORTER: I have a question concerning consumption tax. One week has now passed since the consumption tax was raised to 8 percent. Today it was announced that in February Japan posted the first current account surplus for five months, and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) also released a statement noting that Japan's economy has continued to recover moderately as a trend. Although it may be a little bit early, could you tell us how you view future economic trends?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, a week has gone by since the consumption tax was raised. There does not seem to have been as great a confusion as was initially anticipated and it appears that the people of Japan have accepted the rise. In line with our pledges, we will allocate these valuable tax revenues in their entirety for social security expenses, including in particular 2.9 trillion yen for basic pensions and 500 billion yen for measures to deal with the declining birthrate. The Government will take the necessary measures to ensure that we fully gain the understanding of the public. As it has only been one week since the tax increase, I believe it is necessary to continue to watch the situation for a while longer before determining what the economic impact has been. Nevertheless, judging from the fact that the current account has returned to a surplus, among other indicators, it is my view that the Government’s economic policies are moving in the right direction.

REPORTER: Today, seven political parties from both the ruling and opposition camps, including the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan jointly submitted a bill to the House of Representatives to amend the national referendum act. Can I ask about your views on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The LDP announced a draft bill for the revision of the Constitution, detailing what the party considers to be a suitable format for a revised Constitution and since then, the party has made efforts to promote the revision of the Constitution widely among the public. In this regard, our party, the LDP, considers it to be essential that we resolve the three tasks in relation to the national referendum system. Furthermore, once that is done, we believe we must make steady efforts to revise the Constitution, while bearing in mind the deepening national debate on the subject and the reviews of the Commissions on the Constitution of the House of Representatives and House of Councillors. It was against this backdrop that the ruling and opposition parties engaged in discussions, leading to the joint submission today of a draft bill by seven parties. This means that we have now prepared the environment for the revision of the Constitution, which is something that we sincerely welcome. It is of the utmost importance for all political parties to make their views known and engage in discussions on the Constitution, which is indeed the highest law of the state.

REPORTER: With regard to the situation in Ukraine, there have been a series of declarations of independence by pro-Russian residents in major cities in the eastern part of the country. The United States has criticized Russia and suggested that Russia has been supporting such moves in Ukraine. What is the view of the Government of Japan with regard to these developments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government has received various kinds of information about the situation and we will therefore continue to gather information and closely monitor the situation. As I have said before the Government strongly urges all the parties concerned to behave with maximum self-restraint and responsibility and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

REPORTER: Russia continues to have large-scale military forces deployed on Ukraine’s eastern borders. What are your views concerning the series of moves by Russia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I always say, Japan will absolutely not accept any attempt to change the status quo with force in the background and will continue to cooperate with the countries of the G7.

REPORTER: The United States has indicated that if these moves continue, it is likely that Russia will be subject to further sanctions. What are the views of the Government of Japan with regard to additional sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We would like to respond carefully, in cooperation with the other countries concerned.



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