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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 3, 2017 (PM)

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]


REPORTER: I have a question about the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF). The GPIF has announced today that for the October to December quarter of 2016 the fund achieved its best-ever quarterly investment performance, posting returns of 10.5 trillion yen. Can I ask for the Government’s reaction to this result and also your thoughts on how the fund should be operated, given the various market risks that are also being observed by some people?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the performance of the GPIF for the third quarter of fiscal 2016, I have received a report that as a result of ongoing yen depreciation and significant increases in share prices, an investment profit of 10.5 trillion yen has been achieved, which is the largest ever profit on a quarterly basis, achieving a rate of investment return of eight percent. This result is due in particular to buoyant stock markets, with domestic and foreign stocks together generating investment profit of 9.4 trillion yen. This result means that in the little-over-four years since the inauguration of the Abe administration cumulative investment profit has reached 40.6 trillion yen. Total cumulative investment profit since GPIF began independent operations in fiscal 2001 now stands at 53 trillion yen, which represents an annualized rate of investment return of a little less than three percent. These figures significantly surpass the forecasts for pension finances and will make a major contribution to achieving stable pensions that will support the people of Japan in their old age. In any event, as I also mentioned last year when there was an investment loss of several trillion yen, the operation of pension reserves should be implemented with a long-term perspective and not focus excessively on short-term fluctuations. Pension reserves will therefore continue to be operated with an expert perspective that is impervious to such ups and downs in the market.


REPORTER: I have a question about a Government meeting relating to intelligence. Around lunchtime today a meeting among relevant ministries and agencies was held at the Prime Minister’s Office on the topic of enhancing intelligence gathering. Could I ask who participated in this meeting and what were its objectives?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government considers the security environment around Japan and the situation relating to terrorism to be extremely severe. In particular, given that Japan will host the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, a challenge of the utmost importance is to strengthen international counterterrorism measures. The key to any efforts to prevent terrorism is intelligence. It was against this backdrop that the Government established the Counter Terrorism Unit - Japan (CTU-J) as part of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2015 and continues to strengthen its counterterrorism structures. Today, ahead of the liaison meeting of administrative vice-ministers, I emphasized the importance of sharing the various information held by respective ministries and agencies in order to advance international counterterrorism measures, and issued strong instructions once again to vice-ministers of all ministries and agencies to respond accordingly.

REPORTER: I have a question about China. The Ministry of Defense announced yesterday that 13 Chinese military aircraft passed over the airspace above Miyako Island and then returned, in response to which Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) aircraft were scrambled. I believe that 13 aircraft is the largest-ever number of Chinese aircraft to have been confirmed on one occasion, so can I ask for a comment from the Government about this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government has confirmed that in the morning through the afternoon of Thursday, March 2, a total of 13 Chinese military aircraft passed through the airspace between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island from the East China Sea and reversed course and went back later . In any event, the Government will continue to closely monitor moves by the Chinese military that is expanding and intensifying its activities. To firmly protect Japan’s territorial land, waters, and airspace, the Government will undertake maximum monitoring and surveillance efforts, as well as implement rigorous anti-territory intrusion measures in accordance with the international law and the Self-Defense Forces Law.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, concerning the Northern Territories. There have been some reports in the press that the Government of Russia has excluded the Northern Territories from the system for granting land in Russia’s Far East region free of charge to Russian citizens. Could you tell us the facts behind these reports and also the view of the Government, given that some people consider that this shows that the Government of Russia is showing consideration to Japan, which is contemplating joint economic activities with Russia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly monitoring developments on the Russian side relating to the Northern Territories. We are gathering information concerning the status of implementation of this system and will continue to closely monitor the way in which it will be implemented.

REPORTER: So has the Government confirmed that the Northern Territories have been excluded from this system?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, while we continue to closely monitor the situation, I would like to refrain from commenting from a Government standpoint on the intentions of Russia in this matter.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to a response given by Minister Kato, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue to a question from Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet member Shigeharu Aoyama in the Diet yesterday. Are we to understand that the Government is giving thought to the formation of a rescue unit that would engage in actions to protect abduction victims in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the abduction is the highest priority issue for the Abe Cabinet, and it is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety of abduction victims. With regard to the response made by Minister Kato yesterday, speaking in general terms, if there were to be a contingency on the Korean Peninsula then the Government would naturally make maximum efforts to rescue abduction victims, and their protection would be dealt with in the same way as other Japanese nationals in danger overseas. Also, as there are various constitutional and other constraints from the perspective of international law on the activities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), it is likely that the situation would also call for a request for cooperation to be made to our ally the United States in order to ensure the safety of abduction victims. It is based on such a recognition that the Government believes it to be necessary to engage in constant consideration about how it would be possible to ensure the safety of abduction victims in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula.

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