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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 25, 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)

Q&As

REPORTER: United States Secretary of Defense Mattis is apparently considering a visit to Japan and the Republic of Korea early next month. If this visit is realized, it would be the first visit to Japan by a cabinet member of the Trump administration. What arrangements are currently being made by the Government and what is the Government’s view of this potential visit?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: I have seen this morning’s press reports about this, but the fact of the matter is that no arrangements are being made. However, as various officials in the Trump administration continue to be confirmed, the Government would welcome a visit to Japan by any such officials. If the Government receives official word from the United States about a visit we will respond accordingly.

REPORTER: There are some press reports about the launch of a new organization for trade and commerce negotiations, with consultations between Japan and the United States in mind. Could you tell us about the facts behind such reports and the current status of considerations?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: I have seen some of the press reports this morning. In terms of the organization for conducting trade-related negotiations, the Government must engage in a constant process of review. With regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement in particular, the Government has already completed domestic procedures relating to its ratification and therefore, as I also responded yesterday, we must look to respond to various other free trade negotiations. Against this backdrop there are still consultations to be held among the 11 remaining parties to the TPP and I would not deny that it might be possible to create an environment in which work on the TPP and on other trade-related negotiations could possibly be combined. However, no decision has yet been made on whether to immediately merge various organizations or create a new one. I do not deny that it is one option that is being considered.

REPORTER: So are we to understand that there is a possibility, pending the outcome of the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, that the current Governmental Headquarters for the TPP could be restructured to become a cross-ministry organization that would oversee all trade and commerce-related negotiations?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: Yes, that is a possibility. Various simulations could be envisaged, but as we must move forward with limited human resources and make use of the expertise of the various staff members involved, no decision has been made as yet about restructuring all free trade-related negotiation bodies into one combined organization. Given the differences between the various negotiations, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA), we must consider the appropriate placement of staff members. Therefore the matter of the form the domestic organization for advancing Japan’s free trade policies should take is one for further consideration.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It has also been indicated in press reports that in consultations with the United States there is a possibility that the automotive sector may be split off as a stand-alone issue for negotiations. Is the Government considering such a move?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY HAGIUDA: The question of how the economic relations between Japan and the United States should be developed and deepened is one that we will have to discuss on various levels with the new administration. With regard to the automotive sector, specific figures have already been incorporated in the TPP Agreement and agreed upon and we will therefore concentrate our efforts on seeking the understanding of the United States with regard to the strategic and economic significance of the TPP. I do not think that the automotive sector will be immediately singled out as a theme for bilateral negotiations.

(Abridged)

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