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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 3, 2020 (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 regarding economic conditions. Today, the Nikkei Stock Average closed at a higher level than those prior to the sharp decline of stock prices in response to the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections. With the necessity of further economic measures being called for, could you tell us your assessment of the current situation and your analysis of the underlying factors?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to refrain from commenting on daily movements in the stock market. While the overall situation remains extremely severe, I believe that, with economic activities resuming, we are seeing indications that the economy is recovering, in part due to the effects of various economic policies. The Government intends to expeditiously deliver assistance to those who are in need, including the provision of interest-free unsecured loans provided by the Japan Finance Corporation and other financial institutions up to a maximum of 40 million yen, so as to protect employment and ensure business continuity. In addition, the Government intends to extend full support to the many industries that have been impacted by COVID-19, such as implementing the “Go To Travel Campaign” for the tourism industry, based on the premise that the necessary infection countermeasures are firmly in place.
REPORTER: There is information that a Japanese freelance journalist in his 30s who was taking photographs of the anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong has been arrested by local police at some point prior to September 3. Could you tell us what information the Government has about this matter and, if the reports are true, how the Government perceives this and intends to respond?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We made an inquiry with local authorities through the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong. We received a response to the effect that a Japanese national was detained by local authorities on August 31 and released on September 1. I have received a report that the consulate is currently confirming with local authorities the reason for the detention and the identity of the person who was detained.
REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Former Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Mr. ISHIBA Shigeru, who is running in the LDP presidential election, has stated with regard to the SOFA that improvement of its procedures has reached the limit and now is the time to amend the agreement itself. Even in the LDP, there are some voices requesting revision or amendment. Please share with us the Government’s view regarding an amendment to the SOFA.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the SOFA, it is a large legal framework that includes the Agreed Minutes to the SOFA and other materials. The Government has worked to address specific issues one by one, by applying the most appropriate means that effectively and promptly address these issues, depending on their nature. We are of course aware of the various opinions that exist with regard to the SOFA, and the Government will continue to tirelessly pursue the ideal framework by accumulating tangible improvements one by one.
REPORTER: I have a question about Japan-China relations. You have long been an ardent supporter of inbound travel, and prior to the COVID-19 outbreak the number of Chinese tourists had increased to approximately 30 percent of the total number of visitors to Japan. Meanwhile, there also exist issues such as national security, the Senkaku Islands and U.S.-China tensions. Could you tell us how the Government should address relations with China, balancing economic relations and national security?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: China is the world’s second largest economic power and an important neighbor for Japan. Although various matters of concern exist, it is important to raise those issues that should be raised, resolve those concerns one by one, and strongly seek a positive effort from China through summit meetings and other opportunities at high levels. We will cooperate with the United States, our alliance partner, on this policy and, based on that, we will continue to also engage in close communication with China.

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