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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 24, 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 Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hagiuda

(Abridged)

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga made a statement concerning promotion of reform of economic statistics. This statement was made in response to the decision made by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy on December 21 to approve the Basic Policy for the Fundamental Reform of Economic Statistics, which seeks to respond to various challenges in the field of governmental statistics, including improving the accuracy of GDP statistics. Based on the Basic Policy, the Council for the Promotion of Fundamental Reform of Economic Statistics will be formed, comprised of Cabinet ministers concerned, which will work dynamically to promote Government-wide efforts to advance fundamental reform of economic statistics and develop a unified statistical system, from the perspective of embedding evidence-based policy making (EBPM) throughout government and responding to public needs. In accordance with this decision, the Office for the Promotion of Fundamental Reform of Economic Statistics has been established within the Cabinet Secretariat.

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. On January 23, President Trump signed an executive order that withdraws the United States from the TPP. Given that the entry into force of the TPP was predicated on its ratification by the United States, the signing of this executive order now makes it difficult to foresee when the TPP will enter into force. Can I ask for a comment from the Government concerning this matter and also how the Government intends to respond?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: I am aware that President Trump has signed an executive order. The Government believes that a free trading system, based on common rules that are free and fair, is the source of growth for the global economy. It is based on this recognition that the Government took the lead in completing domestic procedures to ratify the TPP ahead of other countries and informed the Government of New Zealand of this fact. The Government believes that President Trump is also aware of the importance of free and fair trade, and will also concentrate its efforts to seek understanding concerning the strategic and economic significance of the TPP.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Already moves have begun to seek an alternative to the TPP without the participation of the United States, including a comment by an Australian minister about the possibility of the formation of a “TPP minus one.” Yesterday Prime Minister Abe held telephone talks with Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia, so was anything mentioned in these talks about the possibility of going ahead with the TPP without the United States?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: In a summit meeting held during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Australia, the two leaders confirmed that implementing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) remains an indispensable priority. Based on this shared recognition, in the telephone talks held last night the two leaders exchanged views on the importance of free trade, including the TPP. As to the details of what was discussed, such as the matter you mentioned, I would like to refrain from commenting as it relates to a conversation with another head of government.

REPORTER: One of the personnel decisions approved by the Cabinet today was the temporary transfer of Mr. Hiroshi Oe, Chief Negotiator for the TPP Agreement, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Is this transfer related in any way to the executive order signed by President Trump? Could you explain the specific reason for this transfer?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: You are right in that there were personnel changes approved concerning the Chief Domestic Coordinator for the TPP, but these changes were made on the basis of age of the persons concerned and were not in response to developments in the United States. Considerations are still being made with regard to a successor. Under the leadership of Minister Ishihara, Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization, who heads the Governmental Headquarters for the TPP, all ministries concerned will continue to cooperate closely and respond appropriately toward the entry into force of the TPP, which was approved in the previous Diet session, and the promotion of free trade based on free and fair shared rules.

REPORTER: So it will be the case that the position will remain and the Government will assign a successor in due course?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: Yes.

REPORTER: Does the Government intend to consider the possibility of achieving the entry into force of the TPP among eleven countries, without the United States, as has been suggested by an Australian minister? Also, what are the Government’s thoughts on accelerating considerations on other agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which the Prime Minister referred to in his policy speech?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: As Prime Minister Abe has himself made clear in the Diet, the TPP without the United States would have little meaning and the fundamental balance of interests would become skewed. Accordingly, under the recognition that the TPP has high strategic and economic significance and will create prosperity and stability in the region, the Government intends to avail itself of various opportunities to call on the United States and seek understanding with regard to the specific significance of the TPP for the United States and based on the fact that it was agreed to by 12 nations, including the United States. At the current point, the Government does not envisage moving forward with the participation of 11 countries, as has been suggested in the press. At the same time, the Government also naturally seeks to accelerate negotiations relating to other agreements such as the RCEP and the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA), with the TPP Agreement as a standard. Even in the event that TPP negotiations become prolonged, the Government will press forward with various other free trade agreement negotiations.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the easing of the burden of the official duties of His Majesty the Emperor. Yesterday the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor completed its compilation of key points for future discussions and this afternoon the Prime Minister is scheduled to submit this compilation to the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors. What kind of discussions is the Government expecting will take place during the current Diet session?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: Yesterday the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor submitted its compilation of key points relating to opinions and issues that had been raised during the course of the Council’s discussions on various measures. Having received this compilation, the Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors at 1 p.m. today. The Government is aware that the Speaker and Vice-Speaker and President and Vice-President will take the lead in hearing opinions from all political parties and factions. Although I would like to refrain from commenting on the contents of considerations that will be undertaken in both houses, it is the Government’s hope that the Advisory Council will refer to opinions expressed by political parties and factions and also take into account trends in public opinion as it continues to advance its discussions.

(Abridged)

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