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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 29, 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 would like to ask about the meeting held between Prime Minister Abe and UN Secretary-General Guterres in Italy. I believe that in the meeting the two leaders discussed the position of the special rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council. According to the explanation by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the UN website, the special rapporteurs are a group of independent experts that report directly to the Human Rights Council. Meanwhile, on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, it says that special rapporteurs conduct their activities based on personal qualifications that are separate from the United Nations, and that their assertions do not necessarily reflect the collective opinion of the United Nations. There appears to be a slight difference in these two positions. Could you please share once again what explanation was given by the UN side?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The details of the meeting between the Prime Minister and Secretary-General Guterres are exactly as the Japanese side has announced.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about your meeting with President Kozu of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO). I believe President Kozu requested that the Government not introduce a system for the financial settlement of wrongful dismissals. How did you respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Just now, I held a meeting with President Kozu of RENGO and I received a request from RENGO related to the basic policies and budget formulation. The request consisted of ten items centered on three main points. The first of the main points is a request for enhancing and strengthening the labor administration, including by increasing the number of labor standard inspectors, as well as an expression of concern over the introduction of a system for the financial settlement of wrongful dismissals. The second point is a request to reduce the number of children on childcare waiting lists to zero, such as by further increasing the capacity of childcare facilities. The third point is a request for the reduction of tuition fees for universities and other educational institutions, and for a further expansion of interest-free or fund-type scholarships. Regarding the financial settlement system, I explained that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) is currently discussing the issue in a deliberative committee, and that it will discuss the matter further, such as at the council level. Furthermore, I explained that we will continue to listen carefully to the views of labor and management representatives as we advance discussions. Regarding the other items in the request, I explained that they are largely aligned with the overall direction and priority measures of the Abe administration, and that the Government will continue to make diligent efforts to address these issues.

REPORTER: If I may follow up, the report of MHLW’s deliberative committee states that it may not be possible to reach a consensus on the financial settlement system among the committee members and therefore recommends holding discussions on the matter at the Labour Policy Council. Does the Government’s stance remain the same? Do you still intend to advance discussions towards introducing the system?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you said, MHLW will first hold meetings of the deliberative committee and then it will hold meetings of the Labour Policy Council. As we advance discussions, the Government will continue to listen carefully to the views of labor and management representatives.

REPORTER: On a news program broadcast on May 28, Secretary of Defense Mattis predicted that if an armed conflict with North Korea were to occur, it would probably be the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes, and that, if the situation cannot be resolved through diplomatic means and it turns into a combat, it would be a catastrophic war. Does the Government of Japan share the same recognition? What are your thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I believe it is of the utmost importance to ensure the deterrence capability of the United States amid the increasingly severe security environment in the region. From this perspective, Japan highly values the posture of the Trump administration, which uses actions to back up its words, namely that all options are on the table. I believe it is a matter of course that we will reinforce the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. At the same time, it also goes without saying that it is important to resolve issues through peaceful and diplomatic means. Japan will strengthen pressure on North Korea and solve this issue, while continuing to work closely together with the United States and the Republic of Korea, including at the United Nations, and calling for China and Russia to play greater roles.

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