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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issue regarding the abduction by North Korea
  • The Nobel Prize Winners
  • The bills for vitalizing local economies
  • The submission of the relevant bills for the creation of a ministerial post responsible for the Olympic Games

REPORTER: North Korea’s permanent mission to the United Nations has held a briefing on human rights issues at United Nations Headquarters in New York. In the briefing there was a statement concerning the reinvestigation of the abduction of Japanese nationals, to the effect that although the issue has been comprehensively settled, in response to repeated requests from Japan and based on a new agreement the reinvestigation is being implemented. The suggestion by North Korea that the issue has already been comprehensively settled seems to be in contrast to the stance of the Government of Japan. Can I ask for your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the past North Korea has maintained such a stance and has refused to acquiesce to requests to engage in negotiations with Japan. However, the current situation is that we have finally managed to wrench open the door for dialogue a little, despite it being firmly shut for so long, and North Korea has indicated its readiness to engage in mutual investigations on the abduction issue. Japan and North Korea reached an agreement, which includes the fact that North Korea will notify the Japanese side when Japanese survivors are found in the course of the investigations, even as the investigations are ongoing, and based on this agreement the Special Investigation Committee was created. The Government hopes that the Committee will engage thoroughly and sincerely in its investigation work.

REPORTER: I have a related question. At the same time the North Korean side is stating that Japan must also fulfil its obligations based on the agreement. What are your thoughts regarding the fact that North Korea is making demands of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Is this not the way things always are? I imagine that this is North Korea’s method of engaging in negotiations. The Government engaged in negotiations fully aware of the tendencies of North Korea. We will proceed in a firm manner, while considering the most effective way to make progress on the issue.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Nobel Prize. One of the recently announced Nobel Prize winners, Prof. Nakamura, has stated that it was anger that drove him in his research efforts, alluding to patent litigation in Japan. I believe that as part of the Growth Strategy that was announced in June last year there are currently moves underway to revise the Patent Act to make patents the property of companies rather than individuals. Does the Government not have any concerns that making patents company property would lead to employees losing their motivation to innovate and bring about brain drain? What are your thoughts about this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all I do not think that it is correct to suggest that patents are being made company property. With regard to the employee invention system, deliberations are currently ongoing under the auspices of the Industrial Structure Council of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, with a view to effecting improvements that will ensure the system has both merits for companies and incentives for inventors, within the context of the Japan Revitalization Strategy. One of the prerequisites for the council is to ensure that appropriate incentives are provided to inventors. The members of the council are agreed on this point, but as various opinions are being stated from diverse standpoints nothing has been firmly decided at this point in time concerning a direction for the revision of the Patent Act. In any case, it is my understanding that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will continue to solicit opinions from various sources, based on which it will engage in concrete planning for such a system.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the bills for vitalizing local economies. Deliberation of these bills is set to begin in the Diet next week, but could you tell us about the Government’s aims in submitting the bills and how regional policies to date will change as a result?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I am not aware that anything has been formally decided, at the very least the Headquarters for Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan has been created and a ministerial post established. The Prime Minister established the headquarters to spread the effects of Abenomics nationwide. In the past ministries and agencies have been vertically structured, making it difficult to take cooperative, concerted measures. Measures for the regions of Japan will now be coordinated under the leadership of the Minister in charge of Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan, and the Government aims to use this structure to ensure that the most effective direction is identified.

REPORTER: In the recent Budget Committee meeting you stated that you had received instructions from the Prime Minister to submit the relevant bills for the creation of a ministerial post responsible for the Olympic Games. What timing does the Government have in mind for the submission of these bills?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing has been formally decided concerning the timing of the submission. It would be best if we could submit the bills as soon as they have been compiled.

REPORTER: I have a point I would like to confirm. Is it the Government’s aim to submit and enact the bills during the current Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no change to our plan to first seek the understanding of the ruling parties and then submit the bills once they have been compiled.

REPORTER: I have a related question. What is the reason behind the timing of the establishment of a ministerial post for the Olympics? Also, what is the reason for removing responsibility for the Olympics from the portfolio of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and creating a dedicated ministerial post?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than a question of timing it is the case that Tokyo has been confirmed as the host of the Olympic Games, and as part of the discussions on how Japan can ensure that the Games are a success, we decided to establish a dedicated ministerial post. As I mentioned previously, various specific matters are starting to become apparent, such as the necessity for several hundred people to deal with a potential cyber terror attack alone. For such matters I believe that it is the Government’s responsibility to appoint a minister specifically dedicated to the task, who will work to ensure the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.


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