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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 7, 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: A four ministers’ meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) was held a short while ago. I believe PKO in South Sudan was on the agenda. What sort of discussion took place?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, a four ministers’ meeting of the NSC was held, and discussion took place on the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and the situation in South Asia. I would like to refrain from commenting on its content.

REPORTER: I have a related question. With regard to the PKO in South Sudan, I understand that the Government is currently reviewing the security situation there and the level of proficiency of the units for performing the new duties that will be assigned to them, such as “kaketsuke-keigo” (coming to the aid of geographically distant unit or personnel under attack). At the meeting today, what discussion was there on these two matters?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is continuing to internally carry out a comprehensive examination of what duties would be assigned to the units dispatched to South Sudan, based on the local situation, the level of proficiency of the units, and other aspects. Nothing has been decided yet. 

REPORTER: I have a question regarding a different matter. Earlier, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare instituted a compulsory investigation of Dentsu Inc.’s headquarters on suspicion that Dentsu made several employees work long hours illegally. What led to the Government’s decision that a compulsory investigation was necessary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have been briefed that today, a compulsory investigation was conducted in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure on suspicion that there were violations of the Labor Standards Act concerning working hours at Dentsu’s Tokyo headquarters and three branch offices. I would like to refrain from making comments regarding the details of the investigation of individual cases. Nevertheless, in any case, the Government will continue to take appropriate responses in view of past cases. On this basis, to ensure that no precious life is lost due to overworking, the Government will press forward with work style reform from the standpoint of employees, including rectifying long working hours and realizing equal pay for equal work.    

REPORTER: As you just stated, the administration gives priority to rectifying long working hours as part of its work style reform. Does this mean that the Government will continue to take a tough stance on illegal working conditions, not limited to Dentsu?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I will refrain from commenting on individual cases, I will say that, as I already stated, the Government will advance reforms from the standpoint of employees to ensure that no precious life is lost due to overworking.

REPORTER: As the situation stands, the issue of long working hours at individual companies has long remained uncorrected. In terms of your structural approach, how does the government intend to rectify this issue of long working hours?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, we are taking all possible steps to reform the work style. In this context, measures such as realizing equal pay for equal work and rectifying long working hours are of course part of the ongoing discussion.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. My question concerns the ceremony for the agreement to return the Northern Training Area of the U.S. Forces in Okinawa. Some media outlets have reported that arrangements are being made to hold the ceremony on the 20th of next month. What is the status of the considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to the return of a majority of the Northern Training Area, the Government intends to steadily proceed with the construction work for the relocation with the aim of realizing the return by the end of this year. At this point in time, nothing has been decided with respect to the timing and the associated ceremony. However, in any case, of the 7,500-ha Training Area, a majority of it equivalent to 4,000 ha will be returned. In addition, as the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement was reached in 1996, the host communities of Kunigami and Higashi Villages are requesting their early return and to make effective use of the returned lands, such as designating them as national parks and inscribing them on UNESCO’s list of natural heritage sites. In light of these requests, the Government is making maximum efforts to realize the return by the year-end. We consider that if the return is realized, then the U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture would decrease by approximately 20% and contribute to alleviating the impact on Okinawa.


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