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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 27, 2017 (PM)

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 Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Q&As

REPORTER: Today the draft budget for fiscal 2017 was adopted by the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives and approved by a majority of both the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito. In the plenary session of the House of Representatives it is expected that the draft budget will be passed by a majority of the LDP and New Komeito and then be submitted to the House of Councillors. Deliberation of the draft budget in the House of Councillors is due to begin tomorrow, so can I ask what kind of discussions the Government expects will take place?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NOGAMI: The draft budget for fiscal 2017 incorporates measures aimed at pioneering the future, including those for the realization of a society with the dynamic engagement of all citizens, such as improvements to employment conditions for childcare and nursing care providers and the establishment of a scholarship system, and those directly related to economic vitalization, such as enhancement of funding for science and technology promotion and prioritization of growth sectors in public works-related projects.  With regard to the passage of the budget before the end of the current fiscal year, as it has yet to be approved by the plenary session of the House of Representatives, which is in session as I speak, I would like to refrain from making any comment. However, the Government considers that the early passage of next fiscal year’s budget is truly the greatest economic measure . Therefore, aiming to achieve the passage of the budget without delay the Government will continue to provide detailed explanations in the course of deliberations in the House of Councillors.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question relating to the abdication of His Majesty the Emperor. It is anticipated that a general meeting of the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors, together with representatives of all parties and factions will take place on March 2 or 3. It is still the case that there is some difference of opinion among the ruling and opposition parties concerning how to approach the formulation of legislation, but in a Cabinet Committee meeting in October last year Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated that the Government seeks to submit a draft bill relating to the abdication during the course of the 2017 regular Diet session. At the current point could you tell us whether there is any change to the Government’s intentions regarding this matter?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NOGAMI: With regard to easing the burden of the official duties and public activities of His Majesty the Emperor, in response to a question in the Diet in October last year Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated that the Government would request a legislative branch to discuss the way forward regarding this matter and once a direction had been determined, if that direction required the formulation of legislation, the Government would seek to submit such draft legislation during the regular Diet session. In any event, calm discussions are continuing under the guidance of the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors, and the Government will continue to monitor such developments in the Diet. If Diet discussions reach a conclusion on a way forward the Government will take such a conclusion into due consideration as we proceed with further deliberations.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: With regard to the assassination of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia, there is a strong possibility that VX nerve gas was the agent used, a substance that has also previously been used in Japan. Given that at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 it is expected that some countries will be participating that are not signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the possibility cannot be excluded that such chemical agents could be brought into Japan from overseas via embassy channels, for example. How will the Government respond to such cases?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NOGAMI: With the Rugby World Cup and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games due to be held in Japan in the coming years, Japan must work closely with the international community with a sense of vigilance to make every effort to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan and overseas visitors, including the implementation of counterterrorism measures. From the perspective of preventing terrorism and organized crime the Government is implementing various measures, including enhanced information gathering and analysis, strengthened monitoring at Japan’s borders, and the promotion of various initiatives conducted jointly by the public and private sectors. With regard to the use of the poison that you mentioned, the Government has strengthened border checks for terrorism-related materials, including poisons, by stepping up personnel and physical infrastructure at our borders. The Government has also issued a request to organizations and businesses that handle dangerous substances and materials, calling on them to engage in thorough measures relating to storage and management. In addition, the police have also enhanced their own measures to prevent incidents and accidents occurring during the transportation of dangerous substances and materials. The Prime Minister’s Office will continue to oversee all such measures, with the Government working together to promote the robust implementation of various measures that are designed to ensure the safety and security of the public.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning Japan-China relations. You visited China on February 25. Could you tell us about the outcomes of the visit?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NOGAMI: On February 25 and 26 an event was held in Beijing to support efforts to promote the appeal of the regions of Japan to an international audience. The event was implemented with the cooperation of local governments from various regions, including Kyushu, Tohoku and Hokuriku, with the aim of expanding consumption by promoting the appeal of various tourist routes around the regions of Japan, including attractions such as local crafts, Japanese sake and food products. The vitalization of local economies is one of the top priorities for the Abe administration, and the Government believes it to be extremely important to promote visits to Japan by ever more Chinese tourists, the number of which reached 6.37 million last year. Furthermore, this year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization  of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, and tourism is an extremely important means by which to promote people-to-people exchanges and mutual understanding between the two countries. It was from this perspective that I visited Beijing to send out a strong message about the attractions of regional Japan, including both food and tourism.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have just noted that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, and yet incursions into Japan’s territorial waters by Chinese government vessels in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands are still continuing. Could you tell us how the Government seeks to develop relations with China against such a backdrop?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NOGAMI: As I mentioned, this is a milestone year of the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations. Therefore, I believe it is important to continue to make steady efforts to promote people-to-people exchanges and mutual understanding between the two countries.

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