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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 16, 2017 (PM)

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

With regard to efforts to promote inbound tourism to Japan from India, from February 1, the Government will start the relaxation of visa requirements for Indian students, as was announced on the occasion of the visit to Japan of Prime Minister Modi of India in November last year. Specifically, students, graduate students and alumni (within three years of graduation) of universities in India will be allowed to submit a certificate of student status or graduation instead of the document to confirm financial capability in the application for a visa for the purpose of tourism. The relaxation of this visa requirement is expected to further advance people-to-people exchanges among the younger generation of Japan and India.


REPORTER: Deliberations have begun in the Diet on the legislative framework regarding the abdication of His Majesty the Emperor. What deliberations does the Government expect will take place?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware of the press reports on this matter. The current situation is that the Government is requesting the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor to engage calmly and without prejudice in discussions about easing the burden of the official duties and public activities of His Majesty. The Government will wait until the outcome of the next meeting of the Advisory Council, when a direction for the issues to be addressed will be compiled. In addition, once the issues for consideration have been compiled, the Government wishes to consider how discussions among the ruling and opposition parties may be engaged and will advance this matter in consultation with the speakers of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the crime of making preparations to commit acts of organized crime, including terrorism, which also came up in this morning’s press conference. A hearing has been conducted by The Democratic Party, at which a government official has given testimony, and the criticism has been made that the legislation raises the risk of throwing suspicion on ordinary members of the public, including through false accusations. What points will the Government concentrate on in order to assuage such concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that an official of the Ministry of Justice has provided an explanation to The Democratic Party. This bill is for the purpose of concluding the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and based on the various opinions expressed in Diet deliberations to date the Government is engaged in serious considerations about its formulation, including making revisions to the bill that was previously submitted to the Diet. I would like to refrain from saying anything further at the current point.


REPORTER: I have a question relating to Japan-U.S. relations. Ambassador Kennedy of the United States will soon be leaving her position following the change in government administration in the United States. How does the Government appraise the role played by Ambassador Kennedy in matters such as the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and easing the burden of bases on Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: During the past three years and three months Ambassador Kennedy has made a tremendous contribution to building a strong Japan-U.S. Alliance. I would like to express my heartfelt and sincere appreciation to her. In particular, we have been able to engage in frank discussions with Ambassador Kennedy concerning the regional situation in the Asia-Pacific, where the environment and challenges for the Japan-U.S. Alliance are growing ever more severe. Also, it is my view that Ambassador Kennedy’s energy and character have helped to accomplish advances and tangible outcomes in reducing the impact of bases in Okinawa. These accomplishments include the return of more than half of the Northern Training Area, a plot of land with an area size of around 4,000 hectares, and bringing forward the return of land along Route 58 in the Makiminato Service Area, as well as the signing today of the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America on Cooperation with Regard to Implementation Practices relating to the Civilian Component of the United States Armed Forces in Japan. Also, without Ambassador Kennedy’s efforts and support we would not have been able to successfully achieve the series of historic events that have contributed to further deepening the alliance, including Prime Minister Abe’s address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, the first by a Japanese Prime Minister; the visit to Hiroshima by President Obama; and the visit by Prime Minister Abe to Pearl Harbor. Although Ambassador Kennedy will soon be leaving, the Government hopes that she will remain a friend to Japan and will contribute to further strengthening the bonds between our two countries.


REPORTER: I have a related question. As you just noted, today the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America on Cooperation with Regard to Implementation Practices relating to the Civilian Component of the United States Armed Forces in Japan was signed and went into immediate effect today. This supplementary agreement will expand the scope of cases eligible to be heard in Japanese courts, so what is the Government’s appraisal of the agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, this is a legally binding agreement between the governments of Japan and the United States, and I am aware that in order to clarify the scope of the civilian component of United States Forces in Japan it designates categories of persons and stipulates the procedures to be used in evaluating contractor employee positions for eligibility to receive designation as members of the civilian component and also the compilation of evaluation criteria. Fifty-six years have passed since the Japan-United States Status of Forces Agreement was concluded and in view of the fact that this supplementary agreement is only the second of its kind to be concluded since then, following on from the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Stewardship relating to the United States Armed Forces in Japan, makes it all the more ground-breaking. It represents a good example of how cooperation between the governments of Japan and the United States can steadily produce tangible results. The Government expects that the implementation of this supplementary agreement will promote further Japan-U.S. cooperation, which will further deepen the Japan-U.S. Alliance.


REPORTER: The launch of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) small-scale SS-520 No. 4 rocket, which had gained a great deal of attention, has unfortunately failed. However, it is being reported by the Sankei Shimbun newspaper that there are many people online calling for the program to be maintained. Could I ask for your views on whether this launch failure will impact future space exploration efforts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The failure was extremely unfortunate. However, it was an experimental launch for the purposes of sending a micro-satellite into orbit at low cost, utilizing private sector technologies, and although it may not have been successful on this occasion, it will nonetheless lead to the acquisition of technical knowledge that will be useful in the future. The Government expects that once JAXA has implemented an investigation into the causes behind the launch failure, the knowledge gained will provide useful lessons that will aid the continued and steady development of space technologies that harness the vitality of the private sector. This launch was a one-off experiment for the purpose of technical verification and the rocket used different technological components to those used in large-scale rockets. I do not believe, therefore, that this launch failure will have a direct impact on plans for future launches.

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