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Last Update : Friday, Jan 6, 2017

JapanGov Weekly

Cabinet Secretariat [Tuesday, December 27, 2016]

Impromptu Press Conference on the Visit to the United States

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held an impromptu press conference at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

The Prime Minister said the following with regard to his visit to the United States.

“It has been 75 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, and 71 years since the end of World War II. I am visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to offer prayers as the representative of the Japanese people and the Prime Minister of Japan.

We must never again repeat the devastation of war. Together with President Barack Obama, I want to communicate this belief, this pledge, and the value of reconciliation.

This will also be my last summit meeting with President Obama.

I would like for this summit meeting to be the culmination of the last four years. I also wish to talk about various issues that we have worked together on. 

Furthermore, I would like the two of us to communicate to the world the issues that remain, as well as the value of the Alliance that we have strengthened together. That is the kind of summit meeting that I would like to hold.”

Cabinet Secretariat [Wednesday, December 28, 2016]

Council on Investments for the Future

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the third meeting of the Council on Investments for the Future at the Prime Minister’s Office.

At the meeting, debate took place on the opening of public assets to the private sector (the promotion of the spread of public private partnerships and private finance initiatives (PPP/PFI); the opening of public data).

Based on the discussion, the Prime Minister said,

“We will completely open the infrastructure data held by each ministry, agency, and local municipality to the public, bring together the efforts of the public and private sectors, and thereby give rise to new and promising markets.

In April of this year, New Kansai International Airport introduced a concession approach and increased users, thus setting out a path for repaying its 1.2 trillion yen in debt. Regarding the proposal related to Sendai Airport, if safety can be ensured, it will be possible for people who are seeing off travelers to enter the security zone and shop in the airport. In order to spread the successes in the airport sector into other promising fields, by FY2018 we will create legal systems that make it possible for municipalities that pay off debt in advance to be exempt from paying compensation, thereby supporting leading municipalities.

We will also swiftly promote allowances in the Water Supply Act in order to make it possible to raise profitability across a wide region. We will also rectify systems within this fiscal year to allow those with management rights in cruise ports and other facilities to freely rent out those facilities to others.

Japan possesses major domestic infrastructure worth a value on a scale of trillions of yen in sales and 100 trillion yen in assets. Within this fiscal year, we will clarify plans for prioritized consideration for implementing PPP/PFI in all cities with populations over 200,000 people.

We will advance discussion in meetings of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy in order to expand best practices across the country and enable them to have a large economic impact. Under the Basic Law on the Promotion of the Use of Public Data by the Private Sector, we will strongly promote open data while paying attention to safety, peace of mind, and personal information.

We will establish a control tower comprised of experts from the public and private sectors under the IT Strategic Headquarters, immediately determine the priority issues related to the needs of the private sector, and implement necessary measures during a focused period for initiatives lasting until 2020. I would like all relevant ministers to advance their reviews of the specific measures and timeframes proposed by the members of this Council, and immediately flesh these measures out.”

Cabinet Secretariat [Wednesday, December 28, 2016]

Joint Japan-U.S. Announcement on the Return of a Major Portion of the Northern Training Area

On December 21, 2016, at the Prime Minister’s Office, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a Japan-U.S. Joint Announcement on the Return of a Major Portion of the Northern Training Area (NTA) with H.E. Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States to Japan.

The Prime Minister stated in his opening statement,

“Ambassador Kennedy, distinguished guests, thank you all for coming today.

The land return of 4,000 hectares at the NTA has been our agenda, pending for two decades. In my policy speech at the Diet in September, I said, “This cannot be delayed any longer.” The entire government has been engaged to achieve the early realization of this matter.

Earlier it was reported to me that Japan and the United States have come to an agreement, and the land return will be realized tomorrow. The 4,000 hectare return accounts for about 20 percent of the U.S. facilities and areas in Okinawa, and is the biggest single return since the reversion of Okinawa.

I would like to express my gratitude to all those on the U.S. and Japan sides who worked for producing this result on this challenging issue. I am very pleased that we can announce our great achievement today with Ambassador Kennedy and all of you.

This land return does not only mitigate the impact of the bases, but also makes a major contribution to local development through effective use of the returned land. The Government will provide the maximum support to the local villages of Higashi and Kunigami in efforts to register the land as a national park, and then as a world natural heritage site. 

At the same time, we will of course provide due consideration to the people affected by the relocation of the helicopter landing zones, and the Government will continue to cooperate with the U.S. side to pay careful attention to the local living environment.

Ensuring the safe flights of U.S. military aircraft is a grand premise for the smooth stationing of the U.S. forces in Japan. We will work closely with the U.S. side and exert utmost effort to make full assurance on this.

I would like to continue to further strengthen Japan-U.S. ties, and, based on a strong relationship of trust, to steadily implement measures one by one to produce results, in order to realize impact mitigation in Okinawa, while also maintaining deterrence.”

After a statement by Ambassador Kennedy, the Prime Minister said,

“I would like to once again express my respect for all the work dedicated on both the Japan and the U.S. sides for the return of the 4,000 hectares of the NTA.

In regard to impact mitigation in Okinawa, the Abe Cabinet is exerting its full efforts, under a principle that ‘we do everything we can.’ Two years ago, we realized the transfer of all the 15 tanker aircraft from Futenma to Iwakuni. This had been an issue for over 18 years.

We also realized the return of the West Futenma Housing Area last year, and the construction of a hospital on the site has already been decided. Moreover, the relocation of 9,000 U.S. Marines to Guam, which was previously halted in the U.S. Congress, is now moving towards its realization after the continuous efforts made by the Government of Japan and U.S. Congress.

Furthermore, we must avoid the indefinite use of MCAS Futenma, which is located in the center of an urban area surrounded by residential buildings and schools. I believe both the Japan and U.S. share a common understanding.

Through close Japan-U.S. collaboration, we will continue to steadily advance the realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan, and, at the same time, we will realize impact mitigation in Okinawa, in a visible form, while maintaining deterrence. I would like to ask for your continued cooperation to this end.

I believe that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is stronger than ever in the history of both countries. Through this strong bond, I would like to continue to work together with the United States for the greater peace and stability of the region. Thank you.”  

Ministry of Foreign Affairs [Monday, December 26, 2016]

Prime Minister Abe Holds Telephone Talks with UN Secretary-General-designate Guterres

On December 21, commencing at 8:45 a.m. for approximately 30 minutes, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held telephone talks with Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General-designate of the United Nations (UN). The overview of the talks is as follows.

(1) Prime Minister Abe extended his congratulations, noting that Secretary-General-designate Guterres is a friend of Japan and that his appointment is very encouraging.
(2) With regard to North Korea, Prime Minister Abe stated that the strict implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2321 is important and he hopes for cooperation on the abductions issue.
(3) Prime Minister Abe also noted that Japan will further enhance cooperation with the UN in South Sudan, making practical and constructive contributions to ensure peace and development and to stabilize the situation in the country. With regard to Syria, Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan supports and seeks to advance UN efforts to improve the humanitarian situation and achieve a political solution.
(4) Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan will work to advance human security and peacebuilding under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, and will work closely with the UN including in preventive diplomacy. He also expressed strong expectations for Secretary-General-designate Guterres’ leadership in initiatives to reform the United Nations Security Council. In addition, Prime Minister Abe noted that Japan will cooperate closely with the UN in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in fields including Universal Health Coverage (UHC), climate change, disaster risk reduction and women’s issues.

2. In response, Secretary-General-designate Guterres noted that Japan is one of the most important partners of the UN. He stated that Japan’s commitment stands as a pillar for multilateralism and expressed support for Japan’s commitment to human security, peacebuilding and preventive diplomacy within the three pillars of the UN, namely peace and security, development and human rights. Secretary-General-designate Guterres also acknowledged that North Korea, South Sudan and Syria pose important challenges and that the UN will continue to cooperate closely with Japan, which is an important financial, political and strategic contributor to the organization.