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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 24, 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 have a question about the conceptual law for promoting the political participation of women. The draft bill for the promotion of gender equality in political areas, which calls on all parties to make efforts to make the number of male and female candidates fielded in national and regional elections as equal as possible, is likely to be passed in the current session of the Diet. The Democratic Party has accepted the draft bill submitted by Diet members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), New Komeito and Nippon Ishin no Kai and if passed this bill will become the first-ever legislation to promote increases in the number of female politicians. Given that the Abe Cabinet is working to promote the active participation of women, could you give us your evaluation of this draft bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Abe administration seeks to create a society in which all women can make the most of their individuality and capabilities to realize their own aspirations and we are engaged in various measures towards the realization of such a society. I believe that the expansion of the participation of women in politics is of the utmost importance from the perspective of reflecting diverse public opinions and wishes in politics. In that sense, it is a fact that the various political parties are already engaged in various efforts, not just relating to gender, but also with regard to age, as they are seeking to appoint young people as candidates. It was against this backdrop that a cross-party association of Diet members was formed and I believe that various discussions are taking place on the legislation that has been submitted by these Diet members.

REPORTER: I have a related question about the introduction of a quota system. The cross-party association of Diet members you have just mentioned has also formulated a draft amendment to the Public Offices Election Law that would enable the introduction of a limited quota system, by stipulating that a certain proportion of candidates for proportional representation seats in elections for the House of Representatives should be women. The opposition parties have already submitted this draft amendment to the Diet, but the LDP has been cautious in its response. There are some people who feel that the introduction of a quota system is essential in order to actually increase the number of female Diet members, so can I ask for your views on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is a fact that there are various opinions on the subject, including on a quota system. As this is a draft bill submitted by Diet members I think that it should first be debated by members of all parties in the Diet. I would like to refrain from making any comment from a Government position.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the issue of the elimination of childcare waiting lists. Today a meeting within the Diet was held for mothers with children on childcare waiting lists and childcare providers requesting improvements in working conditions. Although the Government is advancing comprehensive measures, including the development of a system to promote career progression, on the other hand, among the childcare providers who participated in today’s meeting there were some who said that rather than a system for career progression, what they wanted was a 50,000 yen wage increase. Could I ask what the Government intends to do to improve working conditions for childcare providers and in particular what measures will be implemented to boost wages?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we are now in the fifth year since the inauguration of the Abe administration. During the course of the past four years we have engaged diligently in efforts that place the highest priority on eliminating childcare waiting lists. The Government’s initial target was to expand the capacity of childcare facilities to accept 400,000 children over the course of five years and we further increased the target by 100,000 to 500,000 places. It is now a certainty that in this fiscal year a total of 500,000 places will be achieved and in actual fact it looks likely that the target will be exceeded, with 530,000 places being created. This represents a three-fold increase in the number of places since the inauguration of the Abe administration and the Government’s efforts are proceeding extremely smoothly. Incidentally, it is expected that in fiscal 2016 capacity for 110,000 places will be secured. Furthermore, from fiscal 2016 new corporate-led activities have been introduced to develop childcare businesses and through these activities 50,000 places had been secured by the end of last year. In addition, in order to support measures for securing land, we have also implemented measures that will enable childcare facilities to be built in urban parks, thus helping to eliminating childcare waiting lists. In terms of budgetary measures, measures have been included in next fiscal year’s budget to improve childcare providers’ salaries by two percent, with an extra 5,000 yen a month for young providers and 40,000 yen a month for mid-career providers. These emoluments represent a significant improvement in comparison to previous salary levels. At the same time, however, even though measures have been implemented to improve working conditions and expand capacity, it is also a fact that the rate of increase in applications for places at childcare facilities has doubled, which is very high, meaning that at present there are approximately 20,000 children waiting for childcare places. The Government takes this situation very seriously and will continue to provide strong support to the efforts of municipalities, which are the administrative bodies responsible for childcare provision, as we seek to achieve the elimination of childcare waiting lists. From my past experience as a member of Yokohama City Council, I can say that the reality is that as fast as places are created, the number of applications for these places similarly increases.

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