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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 12, 2017 (AM)

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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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga



REPORTER: I have a question related to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that will be held from May 14 in China with regard to the “One Belt, One Road” economic zone concept. Secretary-General Nikai of the Liberal Democratic Party is scheduled to attend from Japan. What significance is there to the Secretary-General attending the Forum, and what outcomes do you expect from the Forum?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the invitation of China, Secretary-General Nikai will be attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that will be held in Beijing on May 14 and 15. We expect that constructive discussions will take place. At the same time, we consider that it is extremely important to maintain communications between Japan and China in view of the current international situation, including the situation surrounding North Korea. Against this backdrop, this year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China and next year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China. We expect that the Secretary-General’s visit to China will further improve the bilateral relationship.

REPORTER: While the Secretary-General will be attending, I understand that Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seko received an invitation but will not be attending, and that a State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry would be dispatched from the Government. Is there a reason why Minister Seko will not be attending?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As an outcome of the decision we have made comprehensively, circumstances permitting State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Matsumura will be accompanying Secretary-General Nikai to the Forum.

REPORTER: I have a related question. At this time does the Government perceive that the concept of the “One Belt, One Road” economic zone is one which the Government can lend its active support and cooperation to?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will closely observe how the concept will be materialized, including whether it will contribute to the sustainable development of the region.

REPORTER: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will be supporting this concept financially. Secretary-General Nikai, who will be visiting China, has previously indicated to the Hong Kong media that Japan could become a member of AIIB. Can you once again explain what the Government’s current intentions are for its engagement with AIIB?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we believe that it is an extremely important task for Japan to effectively meet the vast infrastructure demand in Asia. The Government hopes that AIIB will have suitable standards for an international financial institution, and thereby, fulfill its role as an institution that contributes to sustainable development in the Asian region. In addition, as I have been stating, we will closely observe AIIB’s operations with respect to whether AIIB can establish fair governance and whether it has ensured debt sustainability for borrower countries and consideration is being given to environmental and social impacts. There is no change at all to this position.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. I have a question regarding trade between Japan and the United States. The U.S. Congress confirmed Mr. Lighthizer to serve as the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Mr. Lighthizer has stated that Japan would be a primary target for agriculture negotiations and that the United States may request Japan to open up its market. What is the Government’s view of this cabinet appointment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, we would like to sincerely welcome Congress’s formal confirmation of Mr. Lighthizer as the USTR. We view that security and economy go hand-in-hand supporting the Japan-U.S. Alliance and are essential for stability and economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The Government will work with USTR Lighthizer to further deepen the win-win economic relations between Japan and the United States. With regard to USTR Lighthizer’s past comments about agricultural products, the U.S. Government did not make specific mention of the Japan-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) or specifically request the Government to increase market access in the series of talks held between our two countries, including the recent Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue. In any case, the two countries will discuss what kind of framework would be best for our bilateral economic relationship, through the forum of the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a follow-up question. In the comments he made during the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue as well, Mr. Pence has stated that the two countries may commence negotiations for an FTA in the future. With Mr. Lighthizer taking office, it is anticipated that the Trump administration will urge the Government to enter into FTA negotiations. If it does what will be the response of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the two countries have decided that the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue would be held between Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence. Therefore, I expect that this matter would be discussed in that forum.


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