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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 20, 2015 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe will visit Mongolia and the five Central Asian countries from October 22 to 28. This will be Prime Minister Abe’s first visit to Mongolia in two and a half years since his previous visit. No Japanese Prime Minister has ever visited Mongolia twice during his incumbency. Prime Minister Abe will be the first in the history of Japan. Mongolia is an essential partner in the region that shares common values with Japan. The Government hopes to strengthen our bilateral strategic partnership through frequent exchanges between the leaders. The visit to Central Asia by a Japanese Prime Minister will be the first in nine years since the previous visit in 2006. Prime Minister Abe will be the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit all five countries. Central Asia is a vital region located in central Eurasia which produces abundant natural resources. Through this forthcoming visit, Japan hopes to deepen its collaboration with the Central Asian countries, the state-building process of which Japan has consistently supported.    



REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Government Headquarters for the TPP released the details of the negotiations on the TPP, which was recently agreed upon. It was decided that of the total of 586 sensitive agricultural products, including rice and wheat, all tariffs would be eliminated for about 30% of them, totaling 174 products. Does this not breach the 2013 Diet resolutions that stated that Japan would not permit the elimination of all tariffs on the five sensitive agricultural products? Can you please share your opinion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to the TPP negotiations, based on the common objective of achieving high-level trade liberalization, Japan engaged in the negotiations as firmly as possible by also taking into consideration the sensitivities of Japan’s agriculture, forestry, and fisheries products. With respect to the line for the elimination of all tariffs, the line was determined individually by taking into account the import prices at that line, the substitutability of domestically-produced agriculture, forestry, and fisheries products, among other factors. On the whole, I believe the negotiations achieved the best possible outcomes by paying full consideration to the sensitivities of the five sensitive products. The Government will work as one to take all possible measures, in combination with the measures attained through the negotiations, to ensure that motivated agricultural, forestry, and fisheries operators can manage their businesses with hope into the future, and thereby continue produce their production.


REPORTER: I have one more related question. In the general elections held in Canada, the opposition party, the Liberal Party, won a majority of the seats, making it certain that there will be a change in government. Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has stated that the TPP negotiations lack transparency. What impacts do you expect on the ratification of the TPP agreement? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I understand that the election results are not yet final. As you just stated, however, it seems as though the opposition party is set to win the elections. I understand that the Liberal Party has traditionally supported free trade, and that the party’s leader Mr. Trudeau himself is a proponent of trade. Canada is an important partner for Japan. The Government will continue to work closely with Canada to steadily collaborate in wide-ranging areas, including the TPP.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in regard to the overseas visit you referred to in your opening statement. You explained the significance of visiting Mongolia and the five Central Asian countries. However, what is the underlying reason or the significance of visiting the respective countries at this timing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A short while ago, I explained precisely what the necessity of the visit was. The Prime Minister will visit Mongolia as well as the five Central Asian countries. This will be the first time a Japanese Prime Minister will visit all five countries. These five countries are located in central Eurasia and have abundant natural resources. In addition, Japan has consistently supported their state-building processes. The Prime Minister has wanted to make this visit in the context of his “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map” and policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. However, it was difficult to schedule as the Diet session was extended by as many as 95 days. Furthermore, the G20, ASEAN, and APEC meetings are coming up next month. It was with these diplomatic events in mind that this timing was chosen.


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