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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 20, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga


REPORTER: There have been repeated incidences of economy class syndrome emerging among people who are currently living out of their cars following the series of earthquakes. Is the Government considering any response measures to deal with this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: One person has been confirmed to have died due to economy class syndrome. I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences for the person who has passed away and express my sympathies to that person’s bereaved relatives. In addition to securing water and food for persons who have evacuated, the Government also considers health management to be of the utmost importance. Healthcare workers employed by the prefecture and municipalities in Kumamoto, as well as healthcare workers dispatched from all over the country at the request of the prefectural government are currently engaged in health management activities, making rounds of visits to evacuees in locations such as evacuation centers, parks and car parks. The Government recognizes that measures to deal with economy class syndrome are a particularly urgent issue. It is important to try to avoid sleeping in vehicles, drink plenty of water and do a little light exercise. Since yesterday the distribution of leaflets has commenced to people living out of their cars and in evacuation centers and these leaflets provide information about prevention methods. For example, at Grandmesse Kumamoto in the afternoons there are between 200 and 300 vehicles parked, but this number increases to approximately 200 vehicles at night. Efforts are currently being made to distribute leaflets to the people who are staying in their vehicles overnight. Every effort is being made to raise awareness, not just by healthcare workers, but also with the cooperation of local governments and the police, who are requesting that information be posted in locations such as evacuation centers, convenience stores and gasoline stands. Furthermore, in cooperation with medical associations we are preparing measures for early detection, including the use of portable diagnostic equipment, such as ultrasound examinations for evacuees. In this way we seek to make every effort to address the situation.


REPORTER: On a different topic, there are some press reports that a simultaneous election for both the House of Representatives and House of Councillors is now looking unlikely. Some people have expressed the opinion that all efforts should be concentrated on responding to the earthquake in Kumamoto. What are your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The decision to dissolve of the House of Representatives is the exclusive right of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister himself has consistently stated that he has not even mentioned the word dissolution. Therefore I cannot really see why it would be necessary to postpone what has never been planned.

REPORTER: If the Government were to hold a dual election for both houses do you not think this would place a significant burden on the areas affected by the earthquake?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just said, the decision to dissolve the Diet is the exclusive right of the Prime Minister and as he has made absolutely no mention of this I do not think the Diet will be dissolved. In any event, a decision is the exclusive right of the Prime Minister and it is for him to decide whether or not the Diet is to be dissolved.

REPORTER: I think this question may have been asked before, but following the earthquake is there no change to the Government’s plans to raise the consumption tax rate in April next year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the current point there is absolutely no change to the Government’s stance.

REPORTER: In relation to a consumption tax rate rise, in an interview that appeared in the Nikkei Shimbun newspaper today, Chair of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Policy Research Council Tomomi Inada indicated that if it was decided that a rate rise could adversely affect the economy, one option could be to raise it one percent at a time. What is your view of such an idea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Chair of the Policy Research Council was probably stating her own views. As the Prime Minister has stated, the Government basically does not consider that there has been such a change in the economic environment.


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