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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 1, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

It has been decided that the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) will be held in the African country of Kenya on August 27-28. TICAD, which addresses African development, has been held once every five years in Japan thus far with Japan as the lead organizer and joint sponsorship by the African Union Commission, the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank since 1993. This will be the first time to hold TICAD in Africa in response to a request from the African side. Japan intends to make efforts at public and private levels to ensure the Conference’s success.



REPORTER: Has there been any change in signs of North Korea’s preparations for a ballistic missile launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have mentioned over the past few days, the Government is fully prepared and determined to protect the lives of the Japanese people by engaging in close collaboration between Japan and the United States as well as among Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and gathering information and thoroughly analyzing various North Korean activities. This is how we are approaching the response.


REPORTER: Changing topic, a US Navy Aegis-equipped destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel Islands chain in the South China Sea, which is effectively controlled by China, as part of a “freedom of navigation operation” on January 30. China’s Ministry of National Defense criticized the action by stating its resolute disapproval as a serious violation, and its intention to have the Chinese military take necessary actions in response to all provocative behavior by the US military. What is the Japanese Government’s view of the US operation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware that the US military carried out this operation. Japan has repeatedly stated for some time that China’s unilateral actions that are changing the status quo and raising tensions in the South China Sea, such as rapid large-scale land reclamation and building facilities and using them for military purposes, pose a common concern for the international community. The Government supports the “freedom of navigation operation” by the United States in the South China Sea and has stated this previously. I think it is very important to cooperate with the international community to protect open, free and peaceful seas.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about something that came to light from the private emails of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During the Democratic Party of Japan’s Noda Administration, it appears that the US side encouraged the Japanese Government to engage in advance discussions with China regarding Japan’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands and the Japanese side told the US side that it expected to obtain China’s understanding. Could you start by clarifying your understanding of the facts?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as a representative of the Government, I would like to refrain from making comments on the internal exchanges of a foreign country. While I think it is true that various exchanges occurred in diplomatic routes during the process of the acquisition and possession of the three Senkaku Islands, I would prefer not to discuss these interactions.

REPORTER: A survey of Okinawa Prefecture was released showing an estimated 29.9% poverty rate for children in Okinawa. This is almost twice as high as the national average of 16.3%. What are you thoughts on this result?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To start, the Government thinks measures to deal with child poverty are an extremely important issue, and its fundamental view is that children should not be economically affected by the circumstances of their household. Given this stance, the Government prepared a project for supporting the achievement of self-sufficiency mainly to address single-parent households at the end of last year. We are also expanding comprehensive assistance, such as doubling the additional child rearing allowance for second and subsequent children. We have been incrementally promoting various measures to prevent discrepancies in education because of poverty too, including significant expansion of the high-school scholarship benefit and making pre-school education free for people with low incomes. I think it is true that Okinawa Prefecture faces a particularly difficult situation compared to the rest of the country, as you noted. The Government believes it is necessary to implement special measures in light of these conditions and has added one billion yen in new funds to the fiscal 2016 budget for such measures. We have set the subsidy rate at 100% to encourage programs in a wide range of municipalities and thus are hoping to see emergency programs that provide assistance for poverty facing Okinawan children. The Government intends to provide robust support to children living in difficult environments.

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