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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 17, 2017 (PM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: I would like to ask about the childcare waiting list issue. Today in the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Abe expressed his recognition that the goal of eliminating childcare waiting lists by the end of fiscal year 2017 is in an extremely difficult situation. The opposition party claimed that this was a de-facto abandonment of the goal. Can you please share the Government’s recognition regarding the achievement of the goal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Abe administration considers the active participation of women in society and the improvement of childrearing support to be issues of the utmost importance for the administration to address. It has vigorously worked in these areas, particularly in the area of eliminating childcare waiting lists. In practical terms, we have set ourselves an ambitious target for the childcare facility acceptance capacity, toward eliminating childcare waiting lists. Initially an acceptance capacity of 400,000 over five years was stated, but with the presidential election of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan this was increased by 100,000, for us to create the goal of 500,000 spaces over five years. As for the result, we currently expect provisioning for 530,000 children which surpasses the goal by 30,000. However, the increased provisioning has also made it possible for more mothers to enter employment, as a result of which we were not able to eliminate waiting lists. Additionally, in comparison to the situation prior to the formulation of the Plan for Accelerating the Elimination of Childcare Waiting Lists, it is a fact that over the past five years we have increased the capacity by threefold. However, in the past few years, we have experienced twice the growth in applicants for childcare compared to previous years, an extremely high increase. Therefore, as a result we have entered an extremely difficult situation due to the level of the waiting lists increasing by over about 20,000 children. I believe the Prime Minister spoke in an honest and candid manner about this. However, as it is also a fact that we have created capacity for 530,000 children over five years, I therefore believe it was a statement that we would strive even harder toward the achievement of the goal of eliminating childcare waiting lists and not give up. The Government will sincerely address the difficult circumstances surrounding the elimination of childcare waiting lists, and will strongly support the initiatives of each of the wards and municipalities, which are the true core of childcare implementation. While also considering new initiatives in that light, the Government will proceed with all its strength, including in the introduction of private enterprises, for the elimination of waiting lists at the earliest possible date as an issue of the utmost importance.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You stated the Government has prepared spaces for 530,000 children, and I believe you also mentioned new initiatives. For example, would that cover emergency countermeasures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To give an example, Yokohama City, a metropolis with a population of approximately 3.7 million, was able to achieve zero children on waiting lists. With that serving as an example of success of the Plan for Accelerating the Elimination of Childcare Waiting Lists, the Government is working with all its strength to achieve elimination of childcare waiting lists while incorporating every possible element.


REPORTER: This is related to the revision of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds. Today it was stated to the ruling party that the number of applicable crimes would be reduced to 277. Could you please explain the facts of the matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is in the stage of final adjustments. Therefore, it is not yet decided.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I believe it was the position of the Government until now that on the basis of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the applicable crimes could not be selected for the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds. What is the Government’s current position?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are reviewing this through to the last minute such that there is nothing that will hinder Japan being able to sign the Convention. While seriously considering the opinions stated in the deliberations of the Diet, we have made the greatest possible response, and as I have just stated, are now making the final arrangements for the bill. Once that has proceeded, the Government will make thorough adjustments with the ruling party.


REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. In regard to peace in the Middle East, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, U.S. President Trump stated he had no preference regarding the two-state solution, which is being interpreted as an implication of a change in the basic policy that past U.S. administrations have adhered to. Palestine has voiced its opposition, and there are fears that peace could become even more distant. Japan has supported and assisted peace in Palestine, so can you please share your views on this recent dealing, which could be called abrupt and involves only the U.S. and Israel, and what impact it will have on peace in the Middle East going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, we recognize that such a statement was made in the U.S.-Israel summit meeting. There is no change to Japan’s policy that supports the two state solution in which Israel and the future independent Palestinian state can peacefully and securely coexist. To realize that resolution, Japan has held talks with people involved in the Middle East peace process, and provided economic support for Palestine and other measures. Particularly in the Concept for Creating the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, which Japan is advancing as an independent initiative, we are implementing support for Palestine in a form that involves Israel. Japan will continue making a proactive contribution, including continuing to foster trust between the people involved. Japan will also closely monitor the practical policy of the U.S. in regard to peace in the Middle East going forward.


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