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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 24, 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]


REPORTER: I have a question regarding yesterday’s by-elections in the Tokyo No. 10 constituency and the Fukuoka No. 6 constituency. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) retained both of its seats. Can you please share your comments? What is your analysis regarding the reasons for the LDP’s victory? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, we view that under the stable government of the LDP and Komeito, we were able to gain the understanding of voters regarding the policies administered by the Abe administration, which has worked to ensure that the economy is revitalized and that crises are under control.

REPORTER: I have a related question. What is your outlook as to how the election results will affect the administration of the government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The administration is committed to living up to the confidence of the people demonstrated in yesterday’s by-elections. We need to continue to undertake maximum efforts to revitalize the economy and realize a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged, while giving top priority to the economy. To this end, we will endeavor to implement the recently passed supplementary budget to make bold investments in the future and fully support domestic demand. We will take steps to ensure that the people can feel the effects of economic growth that fuels further improvements in the employment and income environments. In any case, with a sense of vigilance we will continue to steadily run the government, with humility and without being arrogant. 


REPORTER: A related question. What is your outlook regarding its effects on the Diet deliberations? What about the effects on the deliberations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that the ruling parties hope will be passed by the House of Representatives by the end of this month?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We expect Diet affairs to be decided by the Diet. That said, the TPP Agreement is critically important for the growth strategy of Japan, and we believe that the TPP Agreement and relevant legislation need to be passed as quickly as possible for the TPP Agreement to swiftly manifest its effects. The Government will provide careful explanations with a sense of vigilance to be able to swiftly proceed with the deliberations.

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic to the abdication of His Majesty the Emperor. The transcript of the meeting of the Advisory Council on the abdication was released. Most of the content was about what was already revealed in the press conference. I gather that the transcript was released to deepen the public’s understanding of the discussion and to enable studies by future generations. Do you consider that the content of the transcript is adequate? If full-fledged discussions take place at the next and following meetings, will more detailed transcripts be released? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to this Advisory Council that was established, the meeting was held to hold discussions on easing the burden of the official duties and public activities of His Majesty the Emperor in a quiet environment, free of assumption, taking into account that His Majesty is currently at the advanced age of 82. I understand that the first meeting was a closed-door meeting to ensure free exchanges of views among the members and to allow discussions to take place in a quiet environment. Following the meeting, the Chair and others provided an overview of the discussions at their press conference. In addition, the meeting’s materials were immediately made public, and the meeting’s summary was also released swiftly. After the meeting ended, Chair Imai and Acting Chair Mikuriya held a briefing. My understanding is that the meeting’s summary released today covers the main points of the discussions that took place. In any case, the Government respects the decisions made by the Advisory Council, and is committed to communicating the overview of the discussions that took place. It was in this context that the summary was released today, and we ask for your understanding in this regard.

REPORTER: I have a follow-up question. Can you explain once again the reason why anonymity is maintained for the remarks made by the six experts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is important that discussions proceed in a quiet environment.

REPORTER: The President of the Philippines will arrive in Japan tomorrow. What sort of relations does the Japanese Government aspire to develop with the Philippines? In addition, there is the issue of the South China Sea. The other day the Philippines and China issued a joint statement which stated that the issue should be settled between the parties. Will the South China Sea be included in the agenda?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan will engage in the summit meeting with the Philippines with a view to further deepening our strategic partnership. The issue of the South China Sea is directly linked to the peace and stability of the region and is a matter of concern to the international community including Japan. Japan has consistently advocated upholding the rule of law in the South China Sea. Japan will enhance our collaboration with the countries concerned including the Philippines and seek a peaceful settlement through diplomacy. 

REPORTER: Chief Cabinet Secretary, I have a question regarding a different matter. Over the weekend, bronze statues of comfort women were unveiled in Shanghai. What is the stance of the Japanese Government regarding this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware of this matter. This kind of activity does not contribute to improving Japan-China relations and is extremely regrettable. Japan believes it is important to take a future-oriented approach towards the common challenges facing the international community, rather than placing excessive focus on the unfortunate history of the past. 

REPORTER: A related question. I recall that in the agreement reached between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) last December, the Japanese and ROK Governments pledged that both sides would refrain from condemning and criticizing each other in the international fora over the comfort women issue. To this day, nearly ten months after the agreement, the comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul has not been removed, and it is suggested that civic groups may continue to install comfort women statues. How does the Japanese Government intend to deal with this issue?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As an agreement was reached between Japan and the ROK, it is critically important that the respective countries execute the agreement in good faith in accordance with the agreement.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. Today, the Osprey aircraft of the U.S. Forces flew in Kisarazu for the first time. Can you once again explain the advantages and merits of having an Osprey maintenance base in Japan? In addition, concerns are being voiced in the city regarding noise, danger, and safety. How will the Government seek the people’s understanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Kisarazu City Assembly has asked for a comparison of the noise of the Osprey of the U.S. Marine Corps and the helicopter of the Ground Self-Defense Force. Accordingly, today, it was decided that a noise comparison would be conducted at Camp Kisarazu. We view that conducting maintenance of the Ospreys of Japan and of the United States at Camp Kisarazu will further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and contribute to alleviating the impact of the bases in Okinawa in terms of sharing the impact nationwide. 

REPORTER: I have a question concerning next fiscal year’s tax reform. I understand that the Government and ruling parties have started conducting reviews to revise the fixed asset tax for high-rise condominiums, making the tax rate higher for the upper floors and lower for the lower floors. What is the status of the Government’s considerations? Furthermore, can you explain the objectives of the revisions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the fixed asset tax for condominiums is imposed based on floor area. In the case of a high-rise condominium, the sale price of a unit differs considerably between the upper, middle, and lower floors. Therefore, this system of fixed asset tax has long been considered an unfair system. Hence, to adjust taxes, we are now reviewing the method for proportionally dividing the tax amount of the fixed asset tax, taking into consideration the actual condominium price. The review will be conducted as part of the tax system reform.  

REPORTER: Tokushima University has announced that it set up an organization to manage cloud funding that will collect research and development funding from investors through the Internet. One of the reasons for this seems to be the decreasing amount of government grants. The establishment of such an organization is the first of its kind by a national university. Can you please share your views, including about the impact on grants that will be provided to universities in the future? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to universities conducting cloud funding, it is also enshrined in the Science and Technology Basic Plan that enhancing the role played by universities requires not only funding from the government but also various forms of financing such as from the private sector. I imagine this will allow the society to have a deeper understanding of the research since researchers will be explaining their research to society in an easy-to-understand manner. In this regard, I think this will also have the effect of making the research even better. In any case, it is critically important that funding sources are diversified and universities strengthen their business management as juridical persons under the university management strategy established by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. I see this as having positive effects.

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