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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 29, 2020 (AM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

REPORTER: Some media reports today said that the Government has decided to build new Aegis-equipped destroyers, which will be equipped with SPY-7 radar. Could you tell us whether these media reports are true? I believe, to date, there are several plans that have been raised as an alternative to Aegis Ashore. Please share with us the Government’s assessment on the plan to build a new Aegis destroyer among them.
DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SAKAI: We are aware of those press reports. While the Government is advancing its deliberations, engaging with the U.S. Government and relevant business contractors of Japan and the United States, it has not made a final decision on this matter. Also, with regard to SPY-7 radar, consideration is being given to equipping offshore platforms with such a radar system, as is the case overall, nothing has yet been decided.
REPORTER: Could you share with us the Government’s assessment of building an Aegis destroyer as an option?
DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SAKAI: That option is one among three or more alternatives. That is because the plan is worth giving due consideration.
REPORTER: Hokkaido has raised its alert on the novel coronavirus response to Stage 2, and designated the next two weeks as a period for intensive response. I ask for the Government’s view on this situation and your view on the impact of the Government’s infection countermeasures.
DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SAKAI: We are aware that Hokkaido is facing such a situation as you have just described. Looking at the situation nationwide, the Government sees that the factors increasing infections and those decreasing infections, such as countermeasures including avoiding the 3Cs (closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact setting) being fully implemented, are competing with each other. The Government will continue to carefully monitor trends in the epidemiological situation, not only in Hokkaido but also in all regions. In addition, the Government intends to encourage people to fully exercise various countermeasures that could boost those decreasing factors, such as avoiding environments where people have to raise their voices, wearing masks, observing social distancing, and taking care to fully ventilate enclosed spaces. In this way we seek to balance the prevention of the spread of infections and socio-economic activities.
REPORTER: Could you tell us whether the Government is considering support measures for Hokkaido, such as the dispatch of government staff specialized in the subject matter, and some changes in the status of Hokkaido on the application of tourism promotion measures under the Go To Campaigns?
DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SAKAI: At the current point, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) is not dispatching personnel to Hokkaido. Of course, if the Hokkaido prefectural government makes such a request, the MHLW will consider support measures including sending its experts when necessary. With regard to the issue of whether to continue or suspend the application of the Go To Travel Campaign, the Government will closely monitor the epidemiological situation and the status of medical treatment structures based on the emergency proposal of the Subcommittee on Novel Coronavirus Disease Control, and work closely with each prefecture in exchanging information and views. It will eventually respond to the situation in a manner respecting the judgement of the respective prefectural governors. At this point, the Government sees that it does not have to change the status of Hokkaido on the application of the campaign. We will closely communicate with the prefectural government and local authorities and respond accordingly.
REPORTER: France has issued a curfew order and COVID-19 infections are spreading around Europe once again. The policy of the Government is to increase the cross-border travel from the perspective of economic recovery. Please tell us how the Government sees the impact of the situation in Europe?
DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SAKAI: We are aware of the situation that the infection situation is becoming very severe and the French Government is requiring its citizens to remain in their homes as reported by the media. Your question was about the implication to Japan from the perspective of the resumption of cross-border travel. In principle, the Government considers it important to resume cross-border travels while preventing the spread of infection. In line with this principle, from October 1, the Government is implementing measures such as gradually allowing cross-border travelers from certain countries and regions to enter Japan, on some conditions. As one of the conditions is that the hosting company or entity can assure observation of quarantine measures, the Government is implementing measures to prevent the spread of infections. We intend to uphold such a policy thoroughly going forward.
REPORTER: I have a question about the selection of the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since the United States has announced that it does not intend to support the Nigerian candidate, the WTO has decided to continue consultations. Could you share with us how the Government perceives the situation and intends to respond moving forward?
DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SAKAI: I am aware of the press reports from yesterday, but the fact of the matter is that the election process is still underway and is scheduled to be further discussed in a meeting of the WTO General Council on November 9. I would therefore like to refrain from making any comment or responding to questions about other countries’ actions or statements.
REPORTER: President Macron of France has made a televised address in which he announced a new lockdown. Chancellor Merkel of Germany has also decided to implement a partial lockdown and is calling for a national effort to respond to the situation. The number of newly confirmed cases is also increasing slightly in Japan, with many clusters emerging and some people noting that the level of alert in the country is slackening somewhat. Looking back at the situation at the time of the first wave of infections, the public has great expectations of the Prime Minister, who is leading this country, but they are also extremely critical of some of the Prime Minister’s work. What is the communication plan of the Government going forward, such as sending messages by Prime Minister Suga himself, including specific information regarding the Government’s response to the novel coronavirus? 
DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SAKAI: With regard to COVID-19 countermeasures, the Prime Minister convenes meetings of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters at appropriate timings when the Government needs to make policy decisions. I think he has demonstrated his leadership such as presenting the direction of future responses at these meetings. Your question seems to imply that the Prime Minister should send a message to the public directly, which includes such content. As you see that the Prime Minister himself has actually responded to questions at the Diet, explaining such government measures, we intend to continue providing explanations accordingly at appropriate occasions, taking into consideration such advice.

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