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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 26, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: On a different topic, some media sources are reporting that the Ministry of the Environment intends to approve distributed storage of specified waste materials stemming from the nuclear accident in the five affected Prefectures. Could you clarify the facts related to this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the media coverage. However, regarding the approach to the processing of the specified waste materials, I have received notification that it is not correct that the Ministry of the Environment has finalized a policy that includes approval of distributed storage. At the same time, I think it is true that the Ministry plans to sufficiently take into account the views of local government bodies and related circumstances in relation to the storage of specified waste materials. In any case, I have been informed that the Government will proceed in a manner that sufficiently factors in the views of prefectures and municipalities, and obtains their understanding.

REPORTER: This is related to the same point. I would imagine that the Government will be taking steps to conduct a survey of local views. Does it plan to exercise a certain amount of flexibility in light of these opinions, even though the existing policy has been to consolidate storage in a single location?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My understanding is that the Ministry of the Environment thinks that it is preferable to manage materials at a single consolidated point within one prefecture in order to be properly prepared for natural disasters and other unforeseen events, and effectively implement long-term management. Furthermore, I understand that the Ministry is currently moving forward with this approach.

REPORTER: The Government explains that it has achieved steady progress with 70% and is behind schedule for 30% of the goals from growth strategies prepared in 2013 and 2014. What is your assessment of the current progress? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s growth strategies for 2013 and 2014 set key performance indicators (KPI), and I think our promotion of these policies is yielding positive results, especially considering A or B assessments for about 70% of the 117 items, including 55 items with an A rating that indicates healthy progress toward achievement of the goal and 27 items with a B rating that reflects a certain amount of progress, though not to the same extent as the A group. In particular, I think the Government has achieved A progress for its goals of provision of 200,000 openings for childcare facilities during fiscal years 2013 and 2014, increasing exports of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and food products to one trillion yen by 2020, and lifting foreign visitors to Japan to 20 million people by 2020. 

REPORTER: Some observers think it will be difficult to realize goals for wait-listed children and promotion of women’s active role in society at the current pace. What is your view on this point? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The administration is aware of the situations related to women and childcare facilities, and it is addressing them as most important issues. However, while the numbers at these levels and the assessments are B, the Abe administration has set a goal for provision of openings at childcare facilities that significantly exceeds the pace in the past and achieved progress in arrangement of facilities at an even faster pace than the goal over the past two years of fiscal 2013 and 2014. For example, new facilities exceeded the target of 200,000 openings over two years by 20,000 at 220,000 openings. However, it is unfortunately also true that the number of wait-listed children increased by comparison to the previous year because of a 2.5-fold rise in the number of new applications over the past three years driven by special factors, such as a steep upswing by the percentage of women in the workforce and a sharp expansion of applicants related to the launch of the new (child and child-rearing assistance) system. In fiscal 2015, provision of new openings at childcare facilities is again ahead of the initial goal by just under 50%. The Government also raised the provision goal for fiscal 2017 by 100,000 from 400,000 openings to 500,000 openings. Of course, there is also the issue of recruitment of staff for nursery schools. The Government aims to deliver results for these issues related to wait-listed children and women by continuing to put its utmost efforts into these areas.


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