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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 27, 2017 (AM)

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



REPORTER: I have a question about Japan-United States relations. According to some press reports, President Trump has decided to request bilateral trade negotiations with Japan instead of going ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. What is the Government’s analysis of how the United States will approach trade policy-related issues?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is expected that the Trump administration’s trade policy will become clearer once the ongoing process of confirming trade and economy-related cabinet members has been completed. Until then, I would like to refrain from making any speculative comments about U.S. policy. However, as the Japan-U.S. Alliance and Japan-U.S. economic relations are of the utmost importance, the Government will be engaging with the new administration at various levels to discuss the ways in which our relations can be further developed and deepened.

REPORTER: President Trump, however, has repeatedly emphasized his intention to advance trade negotiations not within multilateral frameworks but on a bilateral basis with each country. Do you think that there is a high possibility that the U.S. will seek to engage with Japan in such bilateral negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The fact of the matter is that the Government is currently engaged in efforts to ensure that we can respond to all situations.

REPORTER: In the Japan-U.S. summit meeting that is anticipated to take place in the near future, will there be no change to the Government’s policy of seeking to persuade the U.S. side of the significance and importance of the TPP?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally we will continue to emphasize the strategic and economic importance of the TPP.

REPORTER: I have a related question. President Trump has called off a summit meeting with Mexico and indicated his intention to impose an import duty on products from Mexico to pay for the construction costs of a border wall. He has stated the possibility of a 20 percent import duty, so what impact does the Government think this will have on Japanese companies that are engaged in business in Mexico?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this matter concerns bilateral relations between other countries, I would like to refrain from making any comment on behalf of the Government. The Government will continue to monitor the impact any such policies would have on Japanese companies.

REPORTER: Many Japanese auto manufacturers in particular have manufacturing bases in Mexico, so once the timing for the Japan-U.S. summit is determined, does the Government intend to bring up this matter in the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the moment it is unclear as to how this matter between the United States and Mexico will develop. In any event, there will be no change to the Government’s stance of strongly emphasizing the importance of a liberalized economy.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the matter of Japan-U.S. trade negotiations. Yesterday the Prime Minister made a response in the Diet that left open the option of bilateral trade negotiations between Japan and the United States. However, if bilateral trade negotiations were to be initiated there are concerns that the U.S. side would come to the table with stronger demands than it made for the TPP. Even with that in mind, is there a possibility that Japan will enter into bilateral negotiations with the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, the new administration in the United States has just been inaugurated and the cabinet members have yet to be confirmed. The Government expects that once the cabinet members are confirmed and an administrative structure is in place the United States’ policy will become clear. Japan is preparing to respond to the United States once administrative structures and cabinet members are in place.

REPORTER: It has been indicated that President Trump would seek to include a provision on the prevention of currency market intervention in a trade agreement. There was a similar discussion during the TPP negotiations, which was not accepted by Japan. Do you believe that there is a possibility such discussions will be repeated and what are your thoughts about this statement by President Trump?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: If such a statement were to be made the Government would emphasize its stance and seek to reach an agreement as it did at the time of the TPP negotiations.

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