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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, November 10, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Japan-China relations
  • The issue of the consumption tax
  • The Japan-U.S. relations
  • The Japan-Russia relations

REPORTER: With regard to the Japan-China summit meeting, it is expected that the Prime Minister and President Xi Jinping of China may meet as early as today. Could you tell us the status of arrangements, including the way in which the meeting will be held?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is my understanding that final arrangements are currently being made for the Japan-China summit meeting. As I have noted before, in light of the fact that China and Japan have a responsibility to ensure the peace and prosperity not just of the Asian region but also of the world, it is precisely because there are issues between the two countries that it is of great importance for the leaders to meet and engage in a frank exchange of opinions from a broad perspective.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I would have thought that the summit will take place either today or tomorrow. Has the timing of the summit not been decided?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that arrangements are currently in the process of being made.

REPORTER: On a related note, a document was recently issued between the countries with a view to improving relations. If realized, the summit meeting will be the first in two-and-a-half years. What kind of things are the leaders expected to discuss?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Prime Minister himself has frequently stated, it is of the utmost importance to advance Japan-China relations by returning to the starting point of a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests, which was originally confirmed during the first Abe administration when the Prime Minister made a visit to China. At the same time, the document agreed between the two countries included reference to a crisis management mechanism to avert unforeseen circumstances on land, sea or air, which is a matter of public concern. I believe it to be important for the two leaders to resoundingly confirm such an agreement.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The document agreed upon was issued as part of prior arrangements for a summit meeting. Until now, the Chinese side has made dealing with issues relating to Yasukuni Shrine and the Senkaku Islands preconditions for a summit meeting, whereas Japan has refused to accept preconditions.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The content of the agreement is precisely as it appears in the document.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning consumption tax. You have repeatedly stated in this press conference that the Prime Minister will make a decision about whether to raise the consumption tax after the announcement of the second preliminary figures on December 8. However, some of yesterday’s press reports mentioned that you are advising the Prime Minister to postpone raising the consumption tax and dissolve the Diet for an early election. If the Diet is to be dissolved before the end of the year, it would result in a situation in which the schedule would dictate that a decision on whether or not to raise consumption tax would have to be made without waiting for the second preliminary figures. This creates a conflict with the statements you have made in the forum of this press conference. Could you tell us of the Government’s recognition of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s recognition remains the same. I have provided absolutely no advice concerning an early dissolution of the Diet, nor have I spoken to the press about this matter.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In a doorstep interview prior to his departure for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the Prime Minister stated that once the preliminary figures are issued, he will come to a careful decision through consideration of these figures and also based on discussions among experts. Can we understand that it is the Government’s official view that the Prime Minister will wait for the issuance of the revised figures on December 8?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: You just referred to revised figures, and the figures that are issued in November and December are both sets of preliminary figures, not revised figures. This is something that causes great confusion. To date, however, I have spoken about both the November and the December figures and that both of these sets of figures will be considered. It is natural to understand that the December figures too are not revised figures, but preliminary figures.

REPORTER: So, in other words, you are saying that there is no change to the current stance the Prime Minister and you are taking of waiting for the second preliminary figures on GDP to be issued on December 8 before coming to a decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is absolutely no change to the current stance.


REPORTER: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has commissioned an opinion poll on the U.S. image of Japan. In response to a question about which country in Asia is the most important partner of the U.S., 46 percent of the general public chose Japan as the most important country, an 11 point rise on the previous year, and 58 percent of opinion leaders chose Japan, a 19 point rise on the previous year, putting Japan far ahead of second-placed China. What impact do you think these results will have on future Japan-U.S. relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: These results are very good news. I believe that they represent one of the major outcomes of Abenomics that has been advanced by the Abe administration, and also the cooperative relationship between Japan and the United States based on the Prime Minister’s policies, including proactive contributions to peace. In addition, in the opinion poll, when asked about the way relations should be advanced in the future, almost all American respondents indicated that Japan and the United States should cooperate closely for peace and security in the region. Also, the opinion poll showed that the majority of respondents believed Japan should play a more proactive role for peace and security. I believe that these results show just how important it is for Japan and the United States to cooperate, sharing as they do values of freedom and democracy.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning yesterday evening’s Japan-Russia summit meeting. It appears that the two leaders were able to spend a considerable time with each other. Could you tell us the Government’s view about the content of the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yesterday, the Japan-Russia summit meeting was held. This was the first such meeting since the one held in February on the occasion of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. It was held in an extremely congenial atmosphere and proved to be a very good meeting with the two leaders engaging in various discussions and further developing the personal relationship of trust between them. As a result, it was confirmed that concrete preparations would begin for a visit to Japan by President Putin at an appropriate time next year. In preparation for the visit, it was decided that foreign vice-minister-level consultations and other dialogues, and a visit to Russia by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, would continue to be considered. In addition, with regard to the issue of concluding a peace treaty, Prime Minister Abe expressed his views on how to proceed with the negotiations, centering on moving ahead based on the joint statement of April 2013, and frankly exchanged views with President Putin. With regard to the economy and the international situation, in addition to other matters, it was a significant meeting in that the two leaders engaged in frank discussions.


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