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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 20, 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: The Japan Tourism Agency has released figures for the number of overseas visitors to Japan in November. As of the end of November, the cumulative total number of overseas visitors to Japan reached 26.16 million, exceeding the total number of overseas visitors in 2016 and marking a new record. I believe this is a policy area that you are also focusing on. Can I ask for your comment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the number of overseas visitors to Japan in November, a total of 2.378 million visitors came to Japan, which is a 26 percent increase year-on-year and the highest-ever figure for November. As of November 4, a cumulative total of 26.169 million overseas visitors came to Japan in 2017, which exceeds last year’s full-year total of 24.04 million visitors and represents a 19 percent increase over the previous year. At this pace, it is expected that more than 28 million visitors will come to Japan in 2017. Working towards the Government’s target of achieving 40 million annual visitors to Japan by 2020, we will further accelerate this momentum to elevate our Tourism Vision to the next level. Yesterday a meeting of the Tourism Strategy Promotion Taskforce was held, in which discussions took place on ways to further advance tourism promotion measures and also on ways to utilize revenues from the international tourist tax that is currently being considered. We discussed the installation of Wi-Fi on shinkansen trains and other initiatives that are aimed at providing world-class services for travelers; the advancement of initiatives to introduce Japan’s tourism resources, including our cultural assets, in a more appealing way, utilizing the latest technologies such as virtual reality; and measures to promptly increase multi-lingual signage and services for cultural assets and at national parks. Aiming to ensure Japan is a truly tourism-oriented country, the Abe administration will continue to engage proactively in implementing this.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the ways of utilizing revenues from the international tourist tax, which you just mentioned. Some regions in Japan have called for such revenues to be allocated generously to help respond to the increasing numbers of overseas tourists in the regions. What is the Government’s view on how such revenues should be utilized?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the utilization of revenues from the international tourist tax, it is imperative that these are not used simply to fill any shortfalls in existing tourism-related budgets, but rather that they are targeted at the implementation of unprecedented and ground-breaking initiatives and the development of measures and programs that will enable the people who pay the tax to feel convinced that their money is being used to visibly transform tourism in Japan. In addition, in the FY2018 budget, the Government is considering allocations to develop customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) systems that utilize the latest technologies to enable smooth immigration procedures, and also to develop cultural, natural, and other tourism resources that will lead to regional vitalization. Furthermore, the Tourism Strategy Promotion Taskforce, with the sharp eye of its expert members, will be studying how budgetary allocations from the FY2019 budget and beyond can best be used to ensure that measures and programs respond to challenges of the times and will be effective in bringing about change.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to Myanmar. Last week two Reuters journalists were arrested in Myanmar on suspicion of violating the Official Secrets Act. The United Nations, the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries are calling for the release of the journalists. On the other hand, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kono has stated that the Government will carefully monitor the situation. The Secretary General of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Now (HRN) has stated that Japan not joining the international voices calling for the release of the journalists may send the wrong message to Myanmar. What is your view regarding such concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government’s basic view is that freedom of expression, freedom, basic human rights and the rule of law are universal values in the international community, and therefore, it is important that such values be guaranteed in all countries. In view of the importance of the freedom of the press, the Government will continue to carefully monitor this matter, including the relevant facts. Although I would like to refrain from going into detail, the Government has already directly expressed its concerns about this matter to the Government of Myanmar.


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