JapanGov Weekly

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ministerial Council on the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme

Cabinet Secretariat, Friday, July 28, 2017

[Provisional Translation]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a meeting of the Ministerial Council on the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme at the Prime Minister's Office.

At the meeting, there was discussion on the initiatives for the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme thus far, the direction for initiatives moving forward, and the future direction for the Scheme.

Based on the discussion, the Prime Minister said,

“It has been over six years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear power accident. With the exception of difficult-to-return-zones, almost all evacuation orders have been lifted in Fukushima, and reconstruction is at last fully underway.

There can be no revitalization of Tohoku without the reconstruction of Fukushima. There can be no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Tohoku. We will listen to the voices of those affected by the disaster and incorporate their opinions into reconstruction. The starting point for the Abe administration is a focus on the frontlines.

The local people have great expectations for the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme. This will truly be a trump card for the reconstruction of Fukushima. We recently positioned this Scheme within the Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima. In the Hamadori area, we will advance efforts to construct a research and development center focusing on robots and other forms of advanced technology, to build up industry, and to foster human resources. Today, we approved the basic policy for these efforts.

All cabinet members are Ministers for Reconstruction. We must all reaffirm this mindset and overcome vertical segmentation so that the Government can work as one to implement our initiatives. We will do everything in our power to realize the Fukushima Innovation Coast Scheme and meet the expectations of the local people. We will not be passive and will actively promote these initiatives.”


Courtesy Call from Young Descendants of Former Inhabitants of the Northern Territories of Japan

Cabinet Secretariat, Friday, July 28, 2017

[Provisional Translation]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call from a group of junior high school students who are third and fourth generation descendants of former inhabitants of the Northern Territories of Japan, at the Prime Minister's Office.

These seven students spoke about their feelings toward the Northern Territories, after which the Prime Minister said,

“Welcome to the Prime Minister’s Office. Today, you all shared with me your thoughts about the Northern Territories and your feelings about Japan-Russia relations. I also heard your thoughts on the feelings of your grandparents, as well as your great-grandparents, toward the Northern Territories.

I feel that we must do something to change the current situation, in which the Northern Territories still have not been returned to Japan because Japan and Russia have not concluded a peace treaty, even though 70 years have passed since the end of World War II. Last year, I held a meeting with President Putin in Nagato City. We agreed to advance discussions to make it possible for people to freely visit the islands and to visit grave sites. We were scheduled to realize the first grave site visit via airplane last month, but unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, this was not possible. During my summit meeting with President Putin in Hamburg on July 7, we agreed to reschedule the visit for September. I will continue to make efforts to make it possible for the aging former residents of the Northern Territories to visit the islands and to visit grave sites with a greater level of freedom and in a more convenient way.

Just now, you mentioned the importance of advancing mutual understanding between Japan and Russia. I completely agree. As we work to realize free visits and joint economic activities on the four islands of the Northern Territories, I believe that mutual exchanges and mutual understanding will progress between our two countries, as well as between the Russians that currently live in the Northern Territories, and the former island residents.

During my meeting with President Putin in Nagato last year, I presented President Putin with letters from former island residents so that he could read them for himself. He read the letters in front of me with a very serious expression on his face. I believe that, as a result, we were able to agree on advancing efforts for free visits to the islands and visits to grave sites, and have further discussions. I will have another summit meeting with President Putin in Vladivostok this year. I will continue to exert every effort to make any progress possible on the issue of the four islands of the Northern Territories and the issue of peace treaty negotiations. As Prime Minister, I will do everything in my power to resolve the issue of the attribution of the four Northern Islands and conclude a peace treaty. I hope that all of you will also endeavor to have your voices heard throughout Japan.”


Courtesy Call from Groups of Junior Reporters from Okinawa and Hakodate

Cabinet Secretariat, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

[Provisional Translation]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call from the 56th group of junior reporters from Okinawa and the 34th group of junior reporters from Hakodate at the Prime Minister's Office.
The Prime Minister said in his address,

“Hello everyone. I am Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Welcome to the Prime Minister’s Office.

I listened to your wonderful singing voices as I entered the room today. A dance symbolic of the traditional culture of Okinawa was then performed on behalf of the junior reporters from Okinawa. It was a wonderful dance that exceeds what even some adults are capable of. After that, the junior reporters from Hakodate sang a song in beautiful harmony that communicated the charms of their city.

When I was a child, it was often said that Japan was a small country. However, we have many different climates, traditions, and cultures spread out between Hokkaido and Okinawa. Each place has its own history. Each place has its own differences. I believe that Japan is the product of all of those differences coming together as one.

Today, you have come to the Prime Minister’s Office here in Tokyo from Okinawa and Hakodate. Some people from abroad may think that if they come to Tokyo, they know what Japan is like. However, whenever leaders of other countries come to Japan, I often urge them to visit the regions.

There was once a time when G7 summits hosted by Japan would only be held in Tokyo. However, around the time that I was a Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Prime Minister Obuchi decided that the next G7 summit, which was eventually hosted by Prime Minister Mori, would be the first ever to be held outside of Tokyo, specifically in Okinawa. When it came time for Japan to host a G7 summit again, I was Prime Minister, and I decided that we would host the meeting in Toyako in Hokkaido. Unfortunately, by the time that it was held, I was no longer Prime Minister. However, I was able to host the Ise-Shima Summit last year. Each of these places is home to the wonderful traditions and cultures of Japan. I believe that the leaders who experienced these locations returned to their home countries having been greatly inspired by them.

All of you will grow up, work hard to chase your dreams, and go out into the world. When you do so, people will ask you about your hometowns. When that happens, I hope that all of you will take pride in the towns where you were born and raised, and convey to these people just how wonderful each of your hometowns is. Furthermore, I hope that you will show the world what kind of country Japan is.

In that sense, I am very pleased that you performed songs and dances today that are rooted in the traditions of the regions where you were born and grew up.

I hope that all of you will make use of the experience that you have had today. I hope that those of you from Hokkaido will make use of the exchanges you have had with the junior reporters from Okinawa. I hope that the junior reporters from Okinawa will make use of the exchanges you have had with children your age from Hakodate. I hope that you will make use of all of these experiences as you work hard toward your futures.

I would like to end my remarks by wishing you all great success and bright futures. Thank you very much for coming to the Prime Minister’s Office today.”


Signing of Record of Discussions on Technical Cooperation Project with Vietnam: Supporting the prevention of human trafficking and an enhanced system to assist victims through strengthening the operation of hotlines for fighting human trafficking

JICA, Thursday, August 03, 2017

On July 26 and in conjunction with the World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a Record of Discussions with the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi for the Project for Strengthening the Operation of Hotline for Counseling and Supporting Trafficked Survivors, a technical cooperation project.

The project will provide regional call centers for anti-human trafficking hotlines, strengthen the partnership between agencies working at the central, provincial and municipal levels, and support improved awareness among people of the anti-human trafficking hotlines throughout the country.

Although economic development has progressed in Vietnam since the introduction of the market economy through Doi Moi, the disparity between rural and urban regions is expanding. There has been an increase in the movement of people within Vietnam and to other countries in search of better economic conditions, and this increase has been accompanied by a severe rise in human trafficking. Given these conditions, JICA dispatched an “anti-human trafficking advisor” from 2009 to 2011, and after studies and analysis of the conditions of human trafficking and countermeasures, it was found that the problem of human trafficking was worsening with the rise in emigration from Vietnam for the purposes of work and international marriage. It was also found that while there was a rising need for counseling and for information specifically focused on human trafficking, the government was unable to provide inclusive services.

Building on that study, JICA carried out the Project for the Establishment of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Hotline in Viet Nam from 2012 to 2016, expanded the functions of the hotline under operation by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs since 2004 for children, and supported the establishment and operation of a call center with the objectives of preventing human trafficking and supporting victims. The present project will further expand the anti-human trafficking hotline that began operation under the earlier project, extend it to the entire country, and strengthen the partnership and system for sharing information between agencies involved in anti-human trafficking measures to save victims and protect people.

In addition to this project, JICA is carrying out technical cooperation projects related to anti-human trafficking measures in Thailand and Myanmar, inviting officials involved in fighting human trafficking in ASEAN countries for training to promote cooperation in fighting human trafficking, and carrying out other measures to continue contributing to a solution to the problem of human trafficking including in developing countries.