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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Let me start by saying how delighted we are that Prof. Isamu Akasaki, Prof. Hiroshi Amano, and Prof. Shuji Nakamura received this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics yesterday. Last evening, Prime Minister Abe sent congratulatory telegrams to all three recipients and conveyed his congratulatory remarks directly to Prof. Akasaki by telephone. As you are all aware, blue light-emitting diode (LED) technology has broad applications in our lives; for example, it is used in displays, illumination, and Blu-ray discs. Blue LED technology has also contributed considerably to the progress of energy-saving technology. The prize awarded to the three individuals demonstrates global recognition of their achievement in realizing the blue LED, and also demonstrates Japan’s high level of academic research and technological development, both domestically and internationally. We feel very proud of their achievement. As for the Government, we will continue to promote relevant measures for achieving innovations, including the promotion of wide-ranging academic research.


  • The Budget Committee of the House of Councillors
  • The Nobel Prize
  • The remarks made by Governor Kuroda of Bank of Japan
  • The relation between Japan and China

REPORTER: During yesterday’s meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors, an inappropriate remark was made against Ms. Yamatani, Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission. At today’s board meeting (of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors), the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) admitted that a member of its party made this remark and apologized to the factions. Can you please comment on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I gather that you are all aware of the remark that was made yesterday. It can be called the worst kind of sexist remark. The remark was made during a meeting of the House of Councillors, the “chamber of wisdom,” and it cannot be overlooked. In this sense, I commented to this same effect when I was asked for my opinion during yesterday’s press conference.

REPORTER: Regarding this matter, I understand that the board will not be raising this as an issue. What do you think about this response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is the basic policy of the Government to entrust such matters to the Diet.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Inappropriate remarks also became an issue recently at the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. What is your view regarding the fact that a Diet member made an inappropriate remark?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I was there when the remark was made. There is sometimes heckling during the meetings of Diet committees, but heckling of that nature which can be heard that loud and clear is inexcusable. It was a remark that fully desecrates women.

REPORTER: Returning to the subject of the Nobel Prize, you stated that the Government would continue to promote relevant measures. With the awarding of this prize, while there are budget constraints, are you considering any specific measures such as budget increases?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The awarding of the Nobel Prize to the three individuals reaffirmed the critical importance of strengthening research capacities and talents in order to nurture the seeds of innovation. The government is taking a unified approach to promote innovation policies in pursuit of our aim to become the country best known for innovation all over the world. In this light, we will give further momentum to the promotion of important policies.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the remarks made by Governor Kuroda of the Bank of Japan (BoJ) yesterday. The Governor commented that the exchange rate fluctuations were in a sense natural fluctuations, and that the current trend of the weakening yen was good for the economy. Yesterday, you stated during your press conference that exports were not expanding as was thought despite the weakening yen. There seems to be a gap between you and the Governor. What is your comment in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I am aware that the Governor made such comments. I do not see any gaps between the remarks of the Governor and mine. There used to be a rule of thumb that if the yen depreciates, exports increase in the shape of a J curve. What I said was that we have not seen this happen. I was not commenting on whether the yen’s weak level was good or bad. Amid the current circumstances of the Japanese economy, the Government will advance the three arrows and urge companies to utilize their strong earnings for capital investments, wage increases, and hiring increases. Under such circumstances, the Government will work to ensure that the benefits of the economic recovery are felt across the nation in order to proceed with the positive economic cycle. The government has only been in office for one and a half years or one year and ten months. I believe business leaders are still at the stage of assessing the world’s economic trends, including the yen’s depreciation. 

REPORTER: I have a related question. I apologize for asking a question about something from a long time ago, but during the Koizumi government or maybe slightly earlier, while I was a BoJ correspondent, Mr. Hayami was the BoJ Governor, and he had a habit of saying that there was no country which had a weak currency and was a ruined country. He used to call for a policy that was a complete opposite of the current policy. What is your opinion regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I am not fully aware of the policies from that time, I would like to refrain from commenting in my capacity as Government spokesperson. However, based on the current situation, I think it is true that the economic situation has transformed since the change in government.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The fact that exports are not increasing as you noted moments ago means that the benefits of a weak yen are not being seen. You do not consider this miscalculation a problem of Abenomics?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe your argument does not have any validity. It is a matter of what companies do strategically. There is no question that internal reserves have increased. Furthermore, as I stated a short while ago, we are still only one year and ten months into the Abe government. It’s only been a short period, and I presume companies intend to spend a little more time examining the situation. Nevertheless, capital investment has begun to increase. Companies have not brought overseas plants to Japan, have not made capital investments in Japan, and, as is often said, they have not lowered prices to increase exports by taking advantage of the weak yen. I think it is also a matter of corporate strategy.

REPORTER: My question is also in regard to this matter. There is also a view that, in short, if companies created plants overseas through one-time investments and created a cycle of producing and selling overseas, there are no particular advantages to bringing plants back to Japan. What makes you think there are prospects that companies will bring plants back to Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: If future prospects become clear to a certain extent, then companies may deem that it is better to do businesses in Japan in light of the geographical, political, and other such circumstances of respective countries. I think that could very well happen. At the same time, it is true that there are companies which left Japan and went overseas when the yen was strong and are now staying in Japan.

REPORTER: Last evening, at a ballet performance, I understand that Prime Minister Abe sat with and exchanged greetings with Mr. Li Xiaolin, President of a private Chinese friendship association. As Mr. Li Xiaolin is close to President Xi Jinping, I viewed this as a possible sign of change on the part of China with respect to a (Japan-China) summit meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. What is your view, Chief Cabinet Secretary?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that yesterday, the Prime Minister and the First Lady saw a Chinese performance of the ballet “Toki (Red Ibis).” There, the Prime Minister briefly exchanged greetings with President Li Xiaolin of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries who was also at the performance. In any case, generally speaking, cultural exchanges at the private sector-level should be largely promoted, and I hope they will lead to the improvement of Japan-China relations. As I have stated to date, we consider that the second and third largest economies in the world have a responsibility towards world prosperity and peace, and therefore, it is important that both leaders engage in dialogue despite the various challenges between the two countries.


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