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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 16, 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: Prime Minister Abe will stop by the United States on November 17 and then visit Peru and Argentina from November 18 to 21. En route, the Prime Minister will first stop by New York. Arrangements are being made for Prime Minister Abe to hold a meeting with President-elect Trump. Afterwards, in Peru, at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, which is the sixth APEC meeting that the Prime Minister will be attending, discussions will be held regarding the issues facing the liberalization of trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, taking into account the current global economic situation. Ahead of this meeting, the Prime Minister will pay an official visit to Peru and hold talks with President Kuczynski. Taking this opportunity of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the Prime Minister is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings, including a meeting with President Putin of Russia. In addition, Prime Minister Abe will pay an official visit to Argentina, becoming the first incumbent Japanese Prime Minister to visit the country in 57 years, and hold talks with President Macri.   


REPORTER: I have a question regarding your announcement about the meeting with President-elect Trump of the United States. I gather that it is extremely rare for a meeting to take place before the President-elect is inaugurated. Can you once again explain the aim of this meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Prime Minister Abe and President-elect Trump held telephone talks at a very early timing, immediately after Mr. Trump was elected. I believe the bilateral relationship and the relationship between the two leaders have gotten off to a very good start. Following on from the telephone talks, at the upcoming meeting, Prime Minister Abe and President-elect Trump will see each other face-to-face and exchange opinions. We view that this is a vitally significant meeting for building a personal relationship of trust between the two leaders.

REPORTER: In response to questions asked at the Diet, Prime Minister Abe stated that at his meeting with Mr. Trump, he hopes to build a relationship of trust by exchanging frank opinions regarding the economy and security. Meanwhile, it has been pointed out that there are issues between the two countries such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Host Nation Support. Does the Prime Minister intend to go into the particulars of these individual issues during their exchanges of views?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, as this will be the first time they are meeting, we expect that the meeting will focus on building up a personal relationship of trust. At this point in time, I would like to refrain from speculating about the content of the meeting. I anticipate that they will discuss various situations.


REPORTER: My question concerns the same topic. I imagine that the Prime Minister’s upcoming overseas visits will be quite a heavyweight visit since it includes a meeting with Mr. Trump, a meeting with Mr. Putin with which there is the outstanding issue of the territorial issue, and a meeting with President Obama regarding the TPP. What is your outlook regarding the visits’ impact on the administration going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not a matter of the Prime Minister making overseas visits. I believe it is enormously significant for Japan that the Prime Minister holds talks with the President-elect face-to-face ahead of other world leaders. Furthermore, at APEC, there will be a meeting of the leaders of the 12 countries of TPP. There will also be a summit meeting with President Putin ahead of his visit to Japan in December. Having a series of these meetings one by one will give significant momentum to securing the national interests of Japan. 

REPORTER: I have a related question. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that even as of yesterday, Japan did not know who on the Trump team was the advisor on Asian or Japanese diplomacy, and that the Chinese Ambassador also did not really know who was in charge of Asia or China. It reported that there may not even be an expert on Asia on the Trump team. Has the Japanese Government been able to identify and get in contact with an individual who is in charge of policies on Asia or Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I gather that the Cabinet members have not been decided yet and that they are now being selected. At the very least let me say that the Government is aware of who has know-how on Asia and other matters and who is expected to give advice to Mr. Trump, and it is taking various measures.


REPORTER: My question is in connection with the Japan-EU economic partnership agreement (EPA). It was reported that the Government would establish a ministerial council to accelerate the negotiations. Is this true? Can you please explain the current status?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Japan and the European Union (EU) have agreed that we would aim to reach an agreement in principle by the end of this year regarding the Japan-EU EPA. The Government is making concerted efforts including establishing Japanese arrangements. In this context, the establishment of a ministerial council has not been decided at this point in time.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the pension system reform bill. Its deliberations resumed today. Opposition parties are criticizing this bill as a pension reduction bill. What is your response to such criticisms made by opposition parties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the pension system is pivotal in terms of supporting the lives of people in their old age. Rather than unnecessarily turning this into a political issue, it is extremely important that ruling and opposition parties go beyond party lines to pool their wisdom and hold discussions in order to maintain a stable system into the future. The bill in question is not an irresponsible one that unnecessarily transfers the burden onto future generations. It is designed to increase the sustainability of the public pension system and secure future payment levels while asking current pension recipients to accept a greater burden little by little. We consider this as a bill to secure pension levels in the future. The Government will make a series of ceaseless efforts, including passing this bill, in order to establish a pension system that allows both the senior and young generations to live with a sense of reassurance.   


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