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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 14, 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 Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and Vietnam have steadily deepened friendly relations. In such a context, past presidents of Vietnam have paid official visits to Japan, while the visit to Vietnam by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress has not been realized. The Vietnamese Government has repeatedly extended an invitation to Their Majesties to visit Vietnam. In light of this situation, the necessary arrangements will be made for Their Majesties to visit Vietnam possibly in spring of next year.

From September 18 to 24, circumstances permitting, Prime Minister Abe will attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly session in New York as well as visit Cuba. On the 21st, the Prime Minister will deliver an address at the General Assembly session, and on the 19th, the Prime Minister will deliver an address at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. In addition, on the margins of the session, the Prime Minister will hold meetings with the leaders of countries concerned. They are expected to affirm their intent to work together on common regional and global issues, including responses to North Korea’s recent nuclear test. Furthermore, during his stay in Cuba, Prime Minister Abe will hold a meeting with Mr. Raúl Castro, President of the Council of State of Cuba. Japan considers that Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the UN and Cuba will provide a great opportunity for proactively communicating Japan’s views regarding global issues facing the international community, as well as deepening trust with state leaders.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the announcement you just made about the Prime Minister’s visit to the UN. First, can you please explain once again the significance of the Prime Minister’s visit to Cuba?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be the first time a Japanese Prime Minister visits Cuba. Through this visit, Japan aims to further deepen the relationship between our two countries, which share a history of friendship of over 400 years. In addition, Cuba is drawing global attention from both the public and private sectors ever since Cuba and the United States resumed their diplomatic relations last year. Japan will encourage Cuba to improve its business and investment environment, and thereby, support Japanese companies’ expansion into the Cuban market. Additionally, Japan will seek the understanding and cooperation of Cuba for resolving the outstanding issues between Japan and North Korea, such as the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about the Monju fast-breeder reactor. It has been reported that the Government started considering options including decommissioning. Can you please tell us the current status of the arrangements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated yesterday, the Government is now reviewing its options, with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and other relevant ministries, agencies, and organizations working together. Nothing has been decided at this time, including the specific schedule. In any case, we hope to reach a conclusion in a swift manner.


REPORTER: I have a related question. In the past, Monju was regarded as a core facility for realizing the nuclear fuel cycle. Either way, what do you foresee as the impact of your conclusion on your nuclear fuel cycle policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this is a hypothetical question, I would like to refrain from answering. As stated in the Strategic Energy Plan, which has been approved by the Cabinet, the basic policy of Japan is to promote the nuclear fuel cycle. This has been made clear. 

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. According to the National Personnel Authority, with regard to national public servants who took childcare leaves in FY2015, the percentage of men who took paternity leaves because their wives gave birth was 9.5%, up 4% from the previous fiscal year, marking a record high since this study began. Can you please share your views? In addition, the Government has set a goal to increase the percentage of employees taking childcare leaves, in both the public and private sectors, to 13% by FY2020. What is your outlook on achieving this goal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you stated in your question, the percentage of men who took paternity leaves registered a record high among (national) public servants who should be leading by example. It reflects changes in the mindsets of personnel and changes in how workplaces accommodate childcare leaves. In this regard, I believe this represents a huge step forward. The Government’s goal is to raise the percentage to 13% by 2020. For example, the goal is to increase the payment of childcare benefits from 50% (of monthly salary) to 67%. In addition, proactive efforts are under way to encourage both men and women to take childcare leaves. They include programs that award companies and managers that encourage male employees to be actively involved in child-rearing, as well as corporate efforts to help employees balance their careers and families by sharing best practices and introducing subsidy schemes. Despite these efforts, the percentage was still under 3% in FY2015 in the private sector, significantly below the target. Under these circumstances, the Government will devote ever more efforts to these measures in accordance with “The Japan’s Plan for Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens” that was compiled last year (this year).

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