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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 19, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga



REPORTER: I have a question concerning overseas visitors to Japan. Last year the number of visitors was the highest ever recorded, with 19.74 million overseas visitors coming to Japan. This figure is already close to the Government’s initial target of 20 million visitors by 2020 and consumption by overseas visitors also exceeds 3 trillion yen. Could I ask for the Government’s view on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, although previous administrations had been unable to implement regulatory reforms, such as easing and simplification of visa procedures and the broad expansion of duty-free items, once implemented by the current administration, these have proved to be an example of successful regulatory reform. The number of overseas visitors to Japan in 2015 was today announced to have been 19.74 million. This figure was only about 8.3 million at the time of the change in government administration and last year saw the largest number of visitors ever from 19 countries, excluding Russia. An expert member of the Council for the Development of a Tourism Vision to Support the Future of Japan explained in a meeting that similarly to France, which has the largest number of overseas visitors of any country in the world, Japan also has all the prerequisite conditions for the promotion of tourism, including the natural environment, climate, culture and food. To that end, the Council, headed by the Prime Minister, will be compiling an ambitious vision during this fiscal year that comprises measures for regional vitalization and the promotion of international mutual understanding based on the keywords “regions” and “consumption.” This will form the basis for our efforts as we aim to hit our lofty goal.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Last year the number of visitors from China in particular doubled, making China the largest source of overseas visitors for the first time. “Shopping sprees” by Chinese visitors became a talking point last year, but the recent downturn in the Chinese economy is now making itself felt. Could you tell us about the Government’s outlook for overseas visitors to Japan and challenges ahead, including concerns such as trends in the Chinese economy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the number of visitors to Japan has expanded rapidly in the last three years, increasing by 11 million, and it is also a fact that Japan’s structures for welcoming visitors are still not fully in place. Structures and systems for receiving overseas visitors are particularly underdeveloped in regional Japan. To respond to this situation the Government seeks to engage in a variety of thorough measures that are aimed at attracting tourists to regional destinations so that they will contribute to vitalize local economies. I have heard various reports about the status of reservations this year and I understand that there are destinations where reservations are up significantly over the previous year. The Government will continue to monitor developments and work together with the people of Japan to ensure that visitors to Japan can return home having gained a better understanding and greater affinity for our country.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue. There are reports that the meeting is to be held this month in Tokyo. Could you confirm the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly in the Japan-China summit meeting held in November last year it was agreed that the Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue would be held early this year and also that mutual visits by foreign ministers would resume. At the current point, however, no decisions have been made with regard to the specific timing of such meetings.

REPORTER: I have a related question. With instability in the Chinese stock markets having an impact on the global economy I think that it would be of great significance for the Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue to be held at an early juncture. Does the Government have a rough idea at the current point about when the dialogue will be held?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I just stated, in the summit meeting last year it was agreed to hold the dialogue early this year. However, at the current point nothing has been decided. In any event, three of Japan’s business federations visited China last year and I believe that mutual understanding on the economy is already well advanced.


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