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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 17, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the lifting of the zero interest rate policy of the United States. The U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors (FRB) went ahead with raising interest rates for the first time in nine and a half years. What are the comments of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you just stated in your question, a policy interest rate hike was decided for the first time since the previous hike in June 2006 nine and a half years ago. As this concerns the monetary policy of another country, I would like to refrain from making specific comments. In any case, I understand that the FRB made an appropriate determination in the context of the steady recovery of the U.S. economy. In its statement, the FRB stated that adjustments to the monetary policy would be gradual. The Government perceives that appropriate measures will continue to be taken in response to U.S. economic trends, and therefore, it will continue to follow the developments with strong interest.

REPORTER: I have a related question. There is increasing speculation that the rate hike will lead to the further depreciation of the yen in the exchange market. Can you please share with us your views regarding the impact to the Japanese economy as well as your outlook?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, the rate hike is underpinned by the steady recovery of the U.S. economy. This means that generally speaking, there are positive impacts on the Japanese economy. I believe this is not necessarily a bad thing. In reality, corporate earnings are at record high levels. In addition, the employment and income situations are enjoying a moderate recovery. At any rate, the Government will continue to take steps while closely following market trends and the world economy.


REPORTER: The U.S. Congress submitted a bill which includes provisions on lifting the crude oil export ban for the first time in 40 years. The White House Press Secretary expressed the outlook that President Barack Obama would sign the bill. It is almost certain that the crude oil export ban will be lifted. Decreasing prices of crude oil and the diversification of export sources have significant implications, even for Japan. What is your view regarding this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Japan imports a majority of its energy from overseas. If U.S. crude oil exports are realized, the sources of procurement will become very diversified. Therefore, I expect that it would contribute to achieving the stable supply of energy resources. In this regard, we will pay attention to and follow the relevant U.S. developments.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. This morning, construction work started with a view to returning the land in the eastern part of the U.S. Futenma Air Station, the return of which was recently agreed upon between the Japanese and U.S. Governments. Can you please share your comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to this matter, the Government as a matter of course intends to take responses as quickly as possible based on the requests of the people in the area. I gather that the work was conducted in this context.


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