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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 26, 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 on a different topic, concerning the number of days that Prime Minister Abe has been in office. Tomorrow, May 27, the Prime Minister will have been in office for a cumulative total of 1,980 days, the same as former Prime Minister Koizumi, making Prime Minister Abe the third-longest serving Prime Minister in the post-war period. What is your view on the reason Prime Minister Abe has been able to build such a long-serving administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have often noted, it is most important that an administration not be evaluated by its length of time in office, but rather by what it has accomplished. The Abe administration makes it clear what must be done, and by exercising political leadership and with a keen desire to engage in reforms, the administration has moved this country forward towards the goals under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Above all we have worked to exit deflation, prioritize economic measures, engage in efforts for national security and other aspects of crisis management, and press forward with reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Today we continue to steadily advance such policies one by one, seeking to achieve a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In yesterday’s press conference you stated that the political approach taken by the Abe administration is to create a strategic agenda and first establish a cooperative structure within the ruling parties. Could you give us some specific examples of where such an approach has been applied?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the question I responded to yesterday, I noted that in contrast to the former Koizumi administration, which often advanced policy in confrontation with opposing forces, I believe the Abe administration has adopted the approach of passing bills by forming a cooperative atmosphere within the ruling parties through the provision of explanations.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Abe administration has become a long-running administration. In remaining a long-running administration, what policy challenges does the Government seek to tackle going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Prime Minister has stated, it is of the utmost importance to continue to steadily revitalize the economy and also fully ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan in the midst of an extremely severe security environment currently surrounding Japan. I believe that as a result we will create a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In comments he said he was making as President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Prime Minister has indicated his desire to press forward with constitutional reform. As a long-running administration that is looking to remain in power for longer still, is it the Government’s aim to achieve amendment of the Constitution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Since its establishment the LDP has espoused amendment of the Constitution as one of its party platforms. The Prime Minister as LDP President spoke of his ideas concerning constitutional amendment as a means of invigorating inter-party debate in the Diet on this issue. The LDP will compile its own recommendations as a first step.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to moves to inscribe the Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are growing local calls for the eight related sites that comprise the submission to be inscribed altogether and I believe that you have received a request from the governor and others. Can you explain once again what the Government’s stance is on seeking the combined inscription?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, based on the wishes of the local residents for efforts to be made to realize, as much as possible, the inscription of the sites that the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) excluded as well, the Government and local governments concerned will together make every effort to this end by fully studying and analyzing the recommendations of ICOMOS ahead of the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in July.

REPORTER: Does the Government then consider that it is desirable to aim for and support the inscription of all the eight sites based on local wishes?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, that is the case.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. It is being reported that Mr. Yang Jiechi, State Councilor of China, is scheduled to visit Japan as early as May 30 and meet with Foreign Minister Kishida, Secretary General Yachi of the National Security Secretariat, and others. Could you tell us the current status of considerations with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Arrangements for this visit are currently being finalized.

REPORTER: I understand that arrangements are currently being finalized, but if meetings were to be realized with Foreign Minister Kishida and Secretary General Yachi, I imagine that a major agenda item would be the response to North Korea, a country over which China has considerable influence. Can you tell us once again how the Government intends to approach China with regard to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although nothing has yet been decided, I would naturally think that North Korea will come up as a topic for discussion.


REPORTER: The Ministry of Justice has today made a decision on the group that will be granted concession rights relating to the former Nara Juvenile Prison. It is anticipated that the former prison will be converted into a hotel in the future. Can I ask for a comment from the Government about this initiative?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the facility you mentioned stopped receiving inmates and was closed at the end of the last fiscal year. In order to preserve the buildings’ recognized historical value and utilize the facility as a means of vitalizing the local economy, the Ministry of Justice has received a proposal from a private group, which proposes to run the facility as a hotel and other venues as an incidental business, using private sector funds and know-how to seismically reinforce the buildings that are designated as an important cultural property and engage in maintenance and management in the form of a concession business. It is hoped that the utilization of cultural assets in this way will help to promote tourism and also vitalize the local economy. What is more, Nara has a chronic shortage of hotels. I believe that converting a former prison into a hotel will become one symbol of how much Japan’s tourism policy has changed. At any rate, it will become a symbol of how the Government seeks to utilize private funds as much as possible to maintain, manage and utilize national cultural assets, and I very much hope this project is successful.

REPORTER: Are you intending to visit the site in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I hope to do so at some point.

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