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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 20, 2017 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

(Abridged)

I have an announcement concerning the visit to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress. The President of Viet Nam has long extended an invitation for Their Majesties to visit. Given the long-standing relations of friendship and goodwill between Japan and Viet Nam, the Government has decided to request Their Majesties to make an official visit to Viet Nam. Also, in the Kingdom of Thailand, His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away in October last year. Their Majesties will pay a condolence visit to Thailand to show respect for His Majesty the King’s tremendous leadership for the development of friendship and goodwill between Japan and Thailand. The schedule for the visits will be determined through consultation with the governments of Viet Nam and Thailand. It is anticipated that Their Majesties will depart Tokyo on February 28 and the visit will last for approximately one week in total.

The visit by Their Majesties was approved in today’s Cabinet meeting. A statement by the Prime Minister on Their Majesties’ visit has also been issued and has been distributed to you.

During today’s Cabinet meeting, it was decided that the Government will host the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Sixth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake this coming March 11 at the National Theatre, in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino. The ceremony will be attended by representatives of all sectors of society. During the Cabinet meeting, I made a statement concerning this matter. Furthermore, the Prime Minister instructed that the logistics for holding the ceremony be handled under the leadership of Minister Matsumoto. It has been decided that effective today, the Preparation Office for the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Sixth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake will be set up within the Minister’s Secretariat of the Cabinet Office. For more information regarding the ceremony, please inquire with the Preparation Office.

A survey by the Reemployment Surveillance Commission has discovered actions taken within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) that contravene regulations on reemployment of national public servants, including making arrangements for reemployment or seeking reemployment. What is more, it has been found that measures were taken that sought to conceal these actions. This series of actions profoundly shakes the confidence of the public in the fairness of public service and is entirely unacceptable. In response to this incident, the Government has already decided that seven persons concerned will be punished, including the resignation of the Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Government will respond robustly to this incident by directing the Reemployment Surveillance Commission to implement appropriate measures against those concerned, engage in thorough actions to prevent a reoccurrence, and work to establish the full facts behind the incident. Furthermore, following the Cabinet meeting today, as a means of dispelling public suspicions, the Prime Minister issued instructions to Minister in charge of Civil Service Reform Kozo Yamamoto to engage in thorough investigations at other ministries and agencies in order to establish whether similar actions have taken place. Investigations will begin once preparations have been made and the Government will release the results of these investigations.

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the instructions given by the Prime Minister to Minister Yamamoto. What is the reason for instructing the minister to conduct investigations at all ministries and agencies, despite the fact that the Reemployment Surveillance Commission exists to monitor cases of “amakudari” reemployment of national public servants?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Reemployment Surveillance Commission is currently tasked with engaging in surveys to assess whether there have been actions taken at any ministries and agencies that contravene regulations on employment of national public servants, including making arrangements for reemployment or seeking reemployment. In light of the recent incident that has been discovered, the Government has determined that it will be necessary to engage in thorough reinvestigations at all ministries and agencies and report the results, as a means of dispelling any suspicions the public may have. It was based on this strong determination that the Prime Minister issued instructions to Minister Yamamoto, Minister in charge of Civil Service Reform, to engage in investigations and report on the results.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: You announced that the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Sixth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake this coming March 11 will be held in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino. Could you tell us the reason why Their Imperial Highnesses will be attending and not Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It has been decided that the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Sixth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake this coming March 11 will be held in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino. With regard to the order of service and attendance at such commemoration ceremonies, it is the case that decisions are made on a moment-to-moment basis that take into account various situations at any given time. Decisions concerning the attendance of members of the Imperial Family are also made on such a basis and it was the case that Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress attended the significant Memorial Ceremony Marking the Fifth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake last year. This year will mark the sixth anniversary and as a result of considerations with regard to attendance by the Imperial Family, it was decided to request the attendance of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino. There are examples of similar decisions have been taken for other ceremonies, including the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake for example. It was against this backdrop that it has been decided that this year’s memorial ceremony will be held in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino.

REPORTER: I have a related question. So the decision that His Majesty will not attend the ceremony this year was not taken from the perspective of easing the burden of His Majesty’s official duties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Decisions on who will attend a particular ceremony are made based on consultations between the Government and the Imperial Household Agency, in light of the particular circumstances at the time and based on previous precedent.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. The inauguration ceremony for President-elect Trump is due to take place in the early hours of tomorrow morning, Japan time. What kind of role does the Government of Japan expect the new presidential administration in the United States to play?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Trump will be held in the early hours of tomorrow morning, Japan time, which will mark the entry into office of the new President. The Japan-U.S. Alliance is a cornerstone for Japan’s foreign policy and security and given the increasing severity of the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the alliance plays an extremely important role in ensuring the peace and prosperity of the region. The Government seeks to work with the administration of President Trump to further strengthen the unwavering Japan-U.S. Alliance and enhance the existing bonds between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have consistently stressed the view that in terms of security-related aspects, Japan-U.S. relations will remain unchanged. However, there is a possibility that Mr. Trump will demand changes in economic areas. Are there any issues that the Government is concerned about regarding relations with the Trump administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Japan-U.S. Alliance is firstly a cornerstone for Japan and the Prime Minister confirmed the importance of the alliance with President-elect Trump during his visit shortly after the election. The Government therefore seeks to strengthen alliance relations with the new administration. With regard to economic aspects, there are Japanese companies that export extremely large volumes to the United States and are engaged in business there, and the United States is also very important in terms of its imports to Japan. The Government will continue to respond accordingly with regard to economic aspects too, in order to ensure that prosperity remains unchanged.

(Abridged)

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