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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 14, 2015 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the draft budget for fiscal 2015. Although expenditure in the draft budget is set to be the largest ever, including the allocation of 1 trillion yen for regional vitalization, on the other hand the issuance of new Government bonds has been kept down to somewhere between 30-40 trillion yen. Can I ask once again for your evaluation of the overall draft budget for fiscal 2015?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My recognition is that the fiscal 2015 budget is one that will serve to realize both economic revitalization and fiscal rehabilitation, through a combination of economic measures and tax system reforms for fiscal 2015. With regard to the content of the budget, which you asked about, priority has been given to regional vitalization and enhancing social security, including child-rearing support. In addition we will also prioritize disaster prevention for public works. There have indeed been very many disasters, and disaster reduction measures and the aging of existing infrastructure have become very important matters. The prioritization of such areas makes this budget one that will ensure safety and security in daily life, and one that will respond to the various challenges currently facing Japan. In addition, with regard to fiscal soundness, we have been able to reduce the issuance of Government bonds by 4.4 trillion yen from the previous fiscal year and keep bond issuance between 30-40 trillion yen for the first time since the compilation of the fiscal 2009 budget. In any event, it is my recognition that this is a budget that will enable us to look realistically at our goal of halving the national and regional primary balance deficit in fiscal 2015.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. Given the Diet schedule there is a growing recognition among the ruling parties that it would be difficult to achieve the passage of the draft budget within the fiscal year. Are you considering the implementation of a minimum provisional budget as a means of responding to scheduling issues in the Diet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The draft budget has already been approved by the Cabinet, and in principle the Government intends to submit it without delay to the Diet. I would like to refrain from discussing deliberations in the Diet from a Government standpoint, but the Government will of course seek to do everything possible to achieve the passage of the draft budget within the current fiscal year.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget, which has been reduced for the sixteenth consecutive year. While I believe that global assistance trends are changing, including the flow of large volumes of private sector funding to developing nations, could you tell us whether you consider that the latest reduction in the ODA budget will have an impact on Japan’s economic diplomacy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government recognizes that ODA is an important foreign policy tool. In addition, I believe that when taking into account the supplementary budget, yen loans and contributions to international organizations, it is the case that the Government’s total ODA-related expenditure is actually increasing. In any event, I believe it is important that the various ODA-related budget items are executed efficiently and effectively as part of the deployment of Japan’s foreign policy. As I have just mentioned, overall, total ODA-related expenditure is increasing.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the draft bill to amend the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds, a major part of the amendment being made to criminalize the act of conspiracy. While some have opposed criminalizing conspiracy, there are others who consider it necessary, in view of the recent terrorism incident in France and the holding of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in five years’ time. Does the Government intend to submit the draft amendment bill to the regular Diet session that is scheduled to start on January 26?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to state that it is of the utmost importance for Japan to cooperate with the international community in combating terrorism and organized crime, including the recent terrorism incident. To that end, there is no denying that a legal framework is required. However, this matter will first be considered by the Ministry of Justice, which has jurisdiction over such matters. Furthermore, as there have been various discussions to date, it will be important to proceed prudently with considerations, while taking past discussions duly into account.

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