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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 10, 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 Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

(Abridged)

I have an announcement about personnel matters concerning a Parliamentary Vice-Minister. Mr. Shunsuke Mutai, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Cabinet Office and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Reconstruction has tendered his resignation, which has been accepted by the Prime Minister. Following the resignation, as of today, March 10, the Cabinet has recently approved the appointment of Diet member Mr. Yasumasa Nagasaka as successor and a letter of appointment has been handed to Mr. Nagasaka.

Tomorrow, March 11, will mark the sixth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. I once again express my sincerest condolences to the victims, and extend my heartfelt sympathies to their families and all the people who are still unable to return to their homes.  Tomorrow, from 2:30 p.m., a memorial ceremony organized by the Government will be held at the National Theatre, attended by representatives from all sectors of society , in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino.

Today the Cabinet approved the presentation of the Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum  to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who will make an Official Visit to Japan from Sunday, March 12 to Wednesday, March 15, 2017 . Please direct your inquiries to the Cabinet Office for further details.

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the draft bill that was approved by the Cabinet today concerning businesses that provide accommodation in private homes, which stipulates new rules for businesses that offer such rooms, known as “minpaku.” What significance do you think this bill will have in terms of promoting tourism?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in response to the diversifying accommodation needs of foreign visitors to Japan, so-called “minpaku” are rapidly increasing as a new accommodation model. At the same time, however, it is also a fact that such practices are causing social problems, arising from concerns about law and order and hygiene, or from cases of neighborhood trouble about noise or the disposal of garbage. It is in response to such issues that the Government submitted a draft bill to the Diet that would establish a fixed set of rules for such private accommodations. The Government expects that codifying “minpaku” rules will lead to the sound expansion of this type of accommodation model, which, together with the provision of diverse accommodation services by hotels and ryokan, will help to further boost convenience and comfort for foreign visitors to Japan. The Government has set a target of achieving 40 million foreign visitors annually by 2020 and we are working to swiftly remove barriers one by one with a view to achieving this target.

REPORTER: You have just mentioned yourself the concerns that some people have about “minpaku,” including causing neighborhood trouble, so do you think that by advancing this legislation the Government can help to assuage such concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The draft legislation clearly sets out the responsibilities for such businesses and I think that this will help to address concerns that people may have.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-U.S. economic dialogue. There are some press reports that are suggesting that the Government has decided to propose infrastructure exports as an important agenda item in the dialogue and will inform the United States today, March 10. Could you tell us the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the recent Japan-U.S. summit meeting the two leaders decided to establish an economic dialogue led by Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence, based on the three pillars of economic policies, cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, energy, space and cyberspace, and rules for trade and investment . The specific composition and details of the dialogue and also the schedule for discussions are currently being coordinated between Japan and the United States. In any event, the Government expects that constructive discussions within this new framework for economic dialogue will take place based on Japan and the United States’ shared goal of taking the lead in expanding free and fair markets around the world.

REPORTER: I have a related question. President Trump has indicated his desire to develop infrastructure within the United States and if Japanese companies were to successfully bid for such projects it could have a major economic impact for Japan. Does the Government intend to make any kind of approaches that would enable Japanese companies to engage in projects in response to infrastructure demand in the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, infrastructure is among the important pillars identified for discussion in the Japan-U.S. economic dialogue. Given Japan’s technological capabilities and track record in developing infrastructure to date, the Government intends to engage in firm efforts through the forum of the economic dialogue to ensure that in overall terms Japanese companies can bid for and receive orders and in so doing make a contribution to the United States.

REPORTER: I have a question about Japan-U.S. joint exercises in the East China Sea. There have been reports in the press that from March 7 a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) unit began joint exercises in the East China Sea with a United States Carrier Strike Group , including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Could you tell us the facts behind these press reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Ministry of Defense is responsible for determining the timing of any announcement about joint exercises with other countries, or whether to make an announcement, taking into comprehensive consideration various factors, including the nature of the exercises, relations with the counterpart country and the operational status of units. I would therefore like to refrain from commenting on the exercises that you have mentioned, including whether they are taking place or not.

REPORTER: I have a question about the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Trump administration has issued a statement to the WTO, calling for Japan to open its automotive and agricultural products markets. The statement notes that the United States is concerned about non-tariff barriers in the automotive market and high import tariffs for agricultural products, and requests that the Abe administration take new, bold steps . This would suggest an increased probability that in the economic dialogue due to start in mid-April the United States will press Japan to open up the automotive and agricultural products markets. What is the view of the Government and how will you respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although the statement you mentioned is true, it is also the case that similar statements are made almost every year. For example, the United States made a similar statement in 2015 in the WTO Trade Policy Review of Japan. It is similarly true that Japan has thoroughly provided its own responses to such statements, noting, for example, that Japan does not impose import tariffs on automobile imports from overseas and has not established any non-tariff barriers instead of tariffs. The Government believes that the Japanese automobile market has already been sufficiently opened up. In any event, this is likely to be an issue that will be resolved through the Japan-U.S. economic dialogue between Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence.

(Abridged)

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