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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 21, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

On June 23, the day after tomorrow, Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to visit Okinawa Prefecture to attend the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 71st Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa.


REPORTER: Orders for destruction measures that would enable the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to intercept and destroy a missile have been issued. Does this mean that the Government has confirmed signs that a ballistic missile launch by North Korea is imminent?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government closely monitors the missile-related situation in North Korea with great interest, and we constantly strive to gather and analyze information. I would like to refrain from making any comment about specific details due to the nature of the matter. If I were to say any more, it would be to note that from the perspective of taking all possible response measures to secure the lives and property of the people of Japan in any situation, the Government ensures that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is ready to take all required measures. However, with regard to the specific response, I would like to refrain from going into detail.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The previous time that an order for destruction measures was issued, the next day a Musudan missile was launched by North Korea. Is it also the case this time that a launch is expected within a day or two?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly striving to gather and analyze information, but due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from commenting on the specific response.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Given that signs have been confirmed that North Korea is preparing for a missile launch, will the Prime Minister or yourself be taking any special measures from tomorrow morning?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is always working in close cooperation with the United States and the Republic of Korea to call on North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and fully comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. At the same time, there is also no change to the Government’s stance of taking every possible measure in information collection and surveillance with a sense of urgency, in order to be able to respond to any contingency.


REPORTER: I have a related question. You just mentioned that from the upcoming election for the House of Councillors for the first time people from the age of 18 will have the right to vote. The voting rate among young people in their 20s has been on a downward trend in recent years, so what impact do you think that lowering the voting age will have on voting rates?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this is the first time for elections to be opened to this age range, I have no idea what the outcome will be. However, I recognize that it is necessary to thoroughly raise knowledge and awareness among 18 and 19 year-old voters, who will be voting for the first time.


REPORTER: I have a question about economic policies. In terms of an evaluation of Abenomics, while it has been recognized that the benefits have been felt by large corporations and major cities, on the other hand it has also been pointed out that these benefits have been slow in spreading to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and regional areas, resulting in economic disparities. What is your recognition with regard to the ripple effect of economic policies to regional areas?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of such criticisms. However, as I just mentioned, if criticisms are to be based on economic indices then at the very least they should be based on all indicators. In that sense, you can see from indices that SMEs and not just major corporations have benefited, given that it is a fact that SME bankruptcies have decreased by more than 30 percent in comparison to bankruptcies under the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration. I believe that it is statistics like this that will be best understood by people engaged in corporate management in regional areas. As I also mentioned before, the effective ratio of job offers to applicants has improved to 1.34 and now stands at above 1.0 all throughout the country, including in Okinawa and Kochi Prefectures. It is also a fact that the employment rate among high school and university graduates now stands at 97.8%. It should also be noted that we no longer hear mention of the “six obstacles to doing business in Japan,” which was often heard during the DPJ administration. In that sense, and given that economic policies are still in the process of implementation, I believe that at the very least it can be said that results are gradually being achieved.

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