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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 23, 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: The new administration of President Trump has been inaugurated. President Trump has announced a policy shift from the previous administration of President Obama, stressing “America First.” What kind of relationship will Japan seek to build with the United States going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government welcomes that Mr. Trump has been formally inaugurated as the President of the United States. Upon the inauguration of the new administration, Prime Minister Abe sent a congratulatory message to President Trump and Foreign Minister Kishida sent a congratulatory message to Vice President Pence. Those messages emphasized the resolve of the Government of Japan to work with the new Trump administration to further strengthen the unwavering Japan-U.S. Alliance and enhance the bonds between Japan and the United States. Furthermore, on January 22, telephone talks were held between Mr. Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor of the United States and Secretary General Yachi of the National Security Secretariat. In November last year, Prime Minister Abe was the first world leader to hold informal talks with then President-elect Trump. In those talks the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance was confirmed. Following the inauguration of the President, the Government of Japan is seeking to realize a Japan-U.S. summit meeting in the near future. Furthermore, the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone for Japan’s diplomacy and security policy and it plays an extremely important role in ensuring the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, where the security environment is becoming ever more severe. The Government seeks to work with the United States administration led by President Trump to further strengthen the unwavering Japan-U.S. Alliance and enhance the bonds between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: The new Trump administration has announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. Is there no change to the Government of Japan’s stance to continue to persistently explain the significance of the TPP?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no change to that policy. In particular, the TPP Agreement has high strategic and economic significance and will create prosperity and stability for the Asia-Pacific region. It was based on such recognition that it was agreed on by 12 countries, including the United States. Based on this fact and the specific significance of the agreement for the United States, the Government intends to continue to seek the understanding of the United States, using various opportunities to emphasize the importance of the agreement and engage in serious discussions.

REPORTER: You stated that the Government is seeking to realize a summit meeting in the near future, so what is the current status of arrangements for this meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The specific schedule for the meeting has yet to be decided and it is also the case that the Diet is in session. Arrangements to hold a meeting are currently being made, bearing such matters in mind.

REPORTER: It has been reported that following the announcement of President Trump’s policy to withdraw from the TPP, Mr. Steven Ciobo, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia, has initiated consultations with other countries concerned about the possibility of an alternative to the TPP, without the involvement of the United States. What is the view of the Government of Japan with regard to the entry into force of the TPP without the participation of the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The new administration in the United States has only just been inaugurated. Whatever the case, the Government will continue to call on other signatory countries to ratify the agreement as soon as possible. As I just noted, the Government will engage in serious discussions with the new administration in the United States.

REPORTER: There were various demonstrations protesting the inauguration of President Trump, not only in the United States, but around the world. How does the Government of Japan seek to deal with President Trump, whose presidency is causing such concern around the world?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as President Trump has just been inaugurated, in order to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance the Government will seek to realize a summit meeting at the earliest possible opportunity, in which both sides can clearly set out their positions as we both work to build an even stronger alliance.

REPORTER: I have a question that is also related somewhat to the TPP. In his inaugural address, President Trump announced basic policies of buying American products and employing American workers, indicating that he will adopt a protectionist stance. This reflects a lack of basic recognition on President Trump’s part that free trade has great benefits for the United States too, so how does the Government intend to deal with a president who holds such views?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government will carefully monitor the policies of the Trump administration for any impact they may have on Japanese companies. According to figures from the United States Department of Commerce, foreign direct investment (FDI) by Japanese companies in the United States amounts to a cumulative total of US$411 billion and has created 840,000 American jobs. It is a fact, therefore, that Japanese companies are making a major contribution to the United States economy as good corporate citizens. At the same time, active trade and investment are also a source of vitality for Japan-U.S. economic relations. Therefore the Government will be seeking to work with the Trump administration to further develop and deepen Japan-U.S. economic relations.

REPORTER: So does the Government believe that by using all opportunities for dialogue, including the anticipated Japan-U.S. summit meeting in the near future, it will be possible to make President Trump aware of the significance to both countries of free trade?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government believes that the United States already recognizes the importance of free trade and the President’s speech was made on the basis of that understanding. The first priority for the Government is to realize a direct meeting between newly inaugurated President Trump and Prime Minister Abe.

REPORTER: I have a related question about President Trump’s inaugural speech, in which he stated that the United States has subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the depletion of the U.S. military, indicating his intention to require alliance partners to bear a greater cost burden. I believe that the position of the Government is that Japan already bears an appropriate portion of the costs related to U.S. Forces stationed in Japan, so what are your thoughts on the President’s comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that the Government has responded appropriately to this matter in the course of consultations between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: The ordinary session of the Diet has started and questions from party leaders will take place in the House of Representatives today. I imagine that there will be various discussion points, including the path for Japan-U.S. relations following the inauguration of President Trump and the work style reform in domestic affairs. How will the Government approach debate in this Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Questions from party representatives are due to begin today. The overall message of the Prime Minister’s policy speech was “pioneering the future,” under which he set out domestic and foreign policy challenges, and explained five key themes for nation building. The Prime Minister expressed his strong resolve to face difficult challenges for the sake of future generations and to take responsibility for the future. I believe that the Prime Minister will respond in detail to questions from party representatives and demonstrate his strong resolve. In any event, it is the Government’s hope that all parties will engage by providing constructive opinions that serve to advance forward-looking thorough discussions.

(Abridged)

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