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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 1, 2016 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question about the national ratio of jobs to applicants. This morning, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare issued figures for May, in which the ratio had risen to 1.36, its highest level for 24 years and seven months. Although there may be concerns about the future impact of the UK exit from the EU and other matters, what is your analysis and evaluation of the current status of employment in Japan?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: The seasonally adjusted figure for the total unemployment rate stayed the same as the previous month at 3.2 percent and since March last year has remained steady at between 3 and 3.5 percent, the lowest levels for 18 years. The number of people in employment stood at 64.46 million, up 460,000 from the previous year and also the eighteenth consecutive month that an increase has been recorded. The employment rate among 15-to-64 year olds it also at its highest level ever of 74.1 percent. Furthermore, the number of regular employees has risen by 450,000 year-on-year, which is the eighteenth consecutive month for an increase to be recorded. The employment situation continues to improve and based on various factors, such as the UK exit from the EU that you mentioned, the Government will continue to monitor the situation, with a view to ensuring stable employment and a continued increase in the employment rate.

REPORTER: From July 1, Japan has assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). What particular themes will Japan be focusing on as it leads discussions in the UNSC?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: From today, Japan will assume the presidency of the UNSC for one month. During this period, Japan will host an open debate under the theme of “Peacebuilding in Africa” with a view to linking this debate through to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process. Open debates are also scheduled on a wide variety of subjects, including the Middle East and nonproliferation. The Government is aware that this is an extremely important period, with the UNSC scheduled to begin the process for the recommendation of a candidate for the next UN Secretary-General in July. As the country holding the presidency of the UNSC, Japan will seek to make its own contribution in a variety of areas, involving itself deeply in matters relating to international peace and stability.

REPORTER: With regard to the consultations between Japan and the United States on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), there are press reports that suggest that the Government has requested the Government of the United States to exclude workers at on-base welfare and recreational facilities and general contractors from the scope of the civilian component under SOFA. What requests has the Government issued to the Government of the United States. In addition, what aspects is the Government focusing on in the course of negotiations?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: Currently, the Governments of Japan and the United States are engaged in consultations concerning a review of the treatment of U.S. citizens under SOFA, including military personnel. As the consultations are still ongoing, I would like to refrain from making any comments about the details of items of negotiation from the Japan side or the results of consultations to date, out of due regard for our consultation partner the United States. The Government seeks to continue consultations with the United States with a sense of urgency, with a view to swiftly formulating effective prevention measures.

REPORTER: At United Nations (UN) Headquarters yesterday, an election took place for the members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a body that seeks to protect the human rights of children under 18. As a result a Japanese person was elected to the committee for the first time ever. Can I ask about the Government’s response to this result, including any future expectations the Government may have?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: On June 30 in New York, the 16th Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child was held, at which an election for membership of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child took place, with nine new committee members being selected. This was a fiercely competitive election with 19 candidates taking part and Ms. Mikiko Otani, an attorney-at-law, who was aiming to become the first person from Japan to be elected to this committee, ultimately received 152 votes, the largest number out of all candidates, and was duly elected. The Government is delighted that the Japanese candidate came out top in the ballot and we believe it is a reflection of the high regard in the international community for Japan’s efforts to date relating to the rights of children. The Government expects that Ms. Otani will use her wealth of knowledge and experience relating to child rights to make a positive contribution to the activities of the UN Committee, with a view to achieving rights for children internationally.

REPORTER: I have a question about bribery of foreign public officials. Yesterday an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working group held a press conference in Tokyo, in which the Government of Japan was criticized. Their specific criticisms related to the small number of cases of bribery that have been prosecuted and the lack of any legislation that would enable the confiscation of proceeds from bribery. What is the view of the Government concerning this matter?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: I am sorry, but I am unaware of the facts behind these criticisms. In 1998 Japan accepted the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and has since engaged actively in measures to fully and effectively implement the stipulations of the convention, including the development and execution of relevant legislation. On the other hand, the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Transactions has noted that further continued efforts are required on the part of Japan, including in the areas of investigation and prosecution of cases of bribery of foreign public officials. The Government will accordingly make efforts to strengthen its implementation of the convention in the future. My understanding is that rather than pointing out the small number of cases prosecuted in Japan, the working group observed that further legal measures and legislation are required.

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