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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, July 4, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The China’s attempts to join with ROK in raising matters relating past history
  • The appointments of senior officials in central government

REPORTER: President Xi Jinping of China gave a lecture at Seoul National University today in which he was critical of Japan, stating that Japanese militarism in the first half of the 20th century caused a barbarous war of aggression against China and Korea, and that the Chinese and Korean people at the time shared their suffering and helped each other with sweat and blood. The leaders of both China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have joined together in making repeated critical comments about Japan. Can I ask for your thoughts about this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that China’s attempts to join with the ROK in raising matters relating to past history for no purpose other than to create an international issue does not contribute to the construction of peace and cooperation in this region. During the postwar period Japan has consistently followed a path as a peaceful nation right up to the present day and our contributions to the peace and development of the international community have been widely recognized and highly evaluated. There will be absolutely no change in this direction in the future. I believe that in light of the common challenges currently facing the Asia-Pacific region and the international community, national leaders should demonstrate a willingness to develop future-oriented cooperative relations.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the announcement you made this morning about the appointments of senior officials in central government ministries and agencies. These are the first such appointments since the inauguration of the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs. While some people have welcomed the positive moves to appoint women to senior positions in the leadership structure at the Prime Minister’s Office, there are also some who are concerned that this could lead to arbitrary appointments by the administration. How will the Government work to assuage such concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, on this occasion the appointment of senior officials was divided broadly into two processes. The first is the screening of qualifications for the posts in question, which is based on objective materials such as personnel evaluations implemented by each minister and which confirms whether or not the person being screened has the abilities required to be a senior official. Only the people who pass this initial screening are entered on the list of potential candidates for senior official posts. After this, the second process involves consultations on whether to appoint the candidates on the list, whereby each minister with appointive power selects candidates from the list to be appointed and formulates a personnel appointment proposal. These proposals are then discussed by the Prime Minister and myself, and the personnel appointments are determined based on these discussions. That is the structure that is in place. Whatever the case, on this occasion the appointments have been made through a series of checks from multiple perspectives to ensure that the persons concerned have the abilities that are required of a senior official. We have therefore established a structure that allows us to make strategic personnel appointments and ensure that the best person for the job in the whole of Kasumigaseki is appointed appropriately. I do not think that your observation about arbitrary appointments is in any way valid.

REPORTER: If there were a male candidate and a female candidate, and it was difficult to differentiate between them in terms of results and work evaluation, which would you appoint?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would make a decision based on the person’s abilities, their career path to date, and what post would be best for such a person in their ministry or agency. I would do so from the perspective of choosing the best person for the job.

REPORTER: A number of appointments of female senior officials are currently attracting attention. However, there is also a feeling that, while there was a major shift in personnel last year following the inauguration of the administration, many of the people who have been appointed this time have been less than impressive. What are your thoughts on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that whichever way you look at personnel appointments, there is always a degree of subjectivity in such matters. As I just stated, the Government engages in screening of qualifications and consultations on whether to appoint a candidate or not, ultimately selecting bureaucrats from Kasumigaseki who are capable of taking Government policies forward in a unified direction.

REPORTER: During a question in April by a female Diet member of the Japan Restoration Party in the Standing Committee on Internal Affairs and Communications of the House of Representatives, a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet member heckled her with comments of a sexually harassing nature, shouting “You need to have a baby.” That Diet member was Mr. Hideo Onishi and it is being reported by some sources that he has telephoned to apologize. What are your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, heckling in a manner constituting sexual harassment is totally unacceptable in any situation. This sort of comment is also regrettable in the extreme for the Abe administration, which is seeking to promote a society in which all women shine. However, I would like to refrain from making any comment as a representative of the Government on a response that is being made by the Diet to the matter.

REPORTER: I have a question that also relates to personnel affairs. In this morning’s press conference you stated that Mr. Nakamura and Mr. Furusawa had both been appointed to the position of Special Advisor to the Cabinet, with Mr. Nakamura expected to provide information and advice to the Prime Minister with regard to industrial policy, and Mr. Furusawa being expected to provide the same with regard to economic matters. These appointments will bring the number of special advisors to 14. Could you tell us a little more about the aims and expectations in appointing these two new special advisors?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Nakamura was the first person from the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) secretariat proper to become vice chairman of the organization. He is a highly experienced and very talented person, who has an excellent track record in economic areas and also in personal connections. Following his retirement from Keidanren it was recognized that he would be an ideal person to provide information and advice to the Abe Cabinet, which is seeking to promote economic and industrial policy under Abenomics. It was based on this recognition that he has been appointed. Mr. Furusawa is a person who has worked extremely hard in the area of financial administration, including appointments such as Minister at the Embassy of Japan in the United States, Senior Deputy Director-General of the International Bureau of the Ministry of Finance, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs. His experience and outstanding achievements in such an internationally-oriented career are the reason why the Government has appointed him on this occasion to provide information and advice to the Prime Minister.

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