JapanGov Weekly

Monday, December 4, 2017

Meeting with the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Other Events

Cabinet Secretariat, Tuesday, November 28, 2017

On November 28, 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting with His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. After that, the Prime Minister hosted a banquet.

In his address at the banquet, the Prime Minister said,

“I am honored to welcome His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg to Japan as a state guest, and extend my heartfelt welcome. It is a pleasure to welcome you to Japan on this important milestone that marks the 90th anniversary of cordial relations between our two countries.

The foundation of the friendly relations between Japan and Luxembourg is the longstanding close relationship between the Imperial Family of Japan and the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg. There have been numerous visits to Luxembourg by members of the Imperial Family, including the visit by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan in 1997. I am delighted that this visit marks His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri’s 12th visit to Japan.

In the context of our bilateral relations, I visited Luxembourg for the first time as Prime Minister in 2015, and had the honor of meeting His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri.

On that occasion, I was very impressed to hear that when His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri served as an intern in Japan in 1981, he took the bus alone from Tokyo to Nagasaki. At that time, His Royal Highness the Grand Duke hid his title and simply traveled as a young man. His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri met numerous Japanese people along the way from Tokyo to Nagasaki who were extremely kind to him, and I would like to express my gratitude for their kindness. I would like to tell His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri that if during his trip he had visited Yamaguchi Prefecture, where I am from, he would have met more kind people.

I also heard that His Royal Highness the Grand Duke, who is an expert on Japan to a rare extent, named his two pet dogs “Sushi” and “Sake.”

We have invited to today’s banquet leaders who are active in a range of areas, including politics, the economy, academia, and culture, for the development of the relationship between Japan and Luxembourg. The friendly relationship that Japan and Luxembourg share today is thanks to all of you. I would like to extend my appreciation to you all, and ask that you continue to exert your efforts.

I would now like to offer a toast, in the heartfelt wish that the visit to Japan as a state guest of His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri will add a new chapter to the 90-year history of exchange between our two countries.

I would like to express my heartfelt wishes for the continued health and success of His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri, and for an even closer friendship between Japan and Luxembourg. Prost!”


Press Occasion on North Korea’s Missile Launch

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, November 29, 2017

[Provisional Translation]

On November 29, 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a press occasion at the Prime Minister’s Office.

In regard to North Korea’s missile launch, the Prime Minister said,

“North Korea has once again conducted a ballistic missile launch. Based on its flight path, it is possible that it was an ICBM-class missile.

The Government has stayed fully abreast of the developments related to the missile and prepared for all possible contingencies as part of our crisis management.

It is totally unacceptable that North Korea has conducted such an outrageous act, in complete disregard of the strong and unanimous will of the international community to find a peaceful resolution. We have lodged a strong protest against North Korea.

We ask the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting. The international community must work in solidarity and ensure the full implementation of the relevant sanctions. Japan will not give in to any acts of provocation and will increase the pressure on North Korea to the maximum extent.

We will continue to maintain a high level of vigilance and take all necessary measures to protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the people, under the robust Japan-U.S. Alliance.”


Regulatory Reform Promotion Council

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On November 29, 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the 23rd meeting of the Regulatory Reform Promotion Council at the Prime Minister’s Office.

During the meeting, there was a discussion on the Council’s proposal on the review of the agricultural land system to meet new needs, and the second report on regulatory reform promotion was compiled.

After receiving the report from Ms. Hiroko Ota, Chair of the Council, the Prime Minister said,

“Today a report was compiled on the three priority issues, namely, the elimination of childcare waiting lists, frequency band system reforms, and forestry industry reforms, which had been intensively studied over the short period from September. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of the members of this Council, including Chair Ota and Acting Chair Kanemaru, for the intensive discussions you have carried out.

The Abe administration is tackling the elimination of childcare waiting lists with firm resolve. I believe that the new framework, in which municipalities that are developing childcare centers are working in unity with the prefectural governments, will be very powerful in accelerating the childcare capacity.

In order to realize “Society 5.0,” effective use of frequency bands is essential. To achieve the maximum economic value of frequency bands, which are a shared public asset, we must carry out fundamental reforms of the frequency bands allocation framework and the fee structure.

These are all urgent reforms. By incorporating the proposals outlined in today's report in the economic policy package to be formulated next month, the reform measures will be determined as government policy, and we will shift rapidly to their implementation.

Structural reforms are the lifeblood of Abenomics. We will continue to strongly tackle the challenge of regulatory reforms. I ask that the members of this Council continue to make dedicated efforts to realize bold regulatory reforms.”


The General Assembly of Japan's National Council for Export Promotion of Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products and Processed Foods (JAECAP 2017)

Cabinet Secretariat, Friday, November 24, 2017

[Provisional Translation]

On November 24, 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the General Assembly of Japan's National Council for Export Promotion of Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products and Processed Foods (JAECAP 2017) held in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“I would like to offer some congratulatory remarks upon the opening of JAECAP 2017.

I would like to begin by expressing my heartfelt congratulations to everyone who was awarded today for their distinguished contributions to the promotion of Japanese food overseas. All of you have worked wholeheartedly over long periods and have overcome various hardships to promote Japanese food overseas where eating habits are different. You have my deep respect for the way you have taken the lead on the export of Japanese agricultural, forestry and fishery products and foods, and pioneered new markets.

This July, an agreement in principle was reached on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). In addition, this month, an agreement on the TPP11 was confirmed at the ministerial level. With these agreements, the tariffs that have been applied to Japan’s agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and foods will be eliminated in many countries. This represents a major opportunity to expand the export of delicious and safe Japanese products to markets around the world.

I myself, on the margins of summit meetings and other occasions, have been actively calling for the easing or elimination of regulations in countries that are acting as a barrier to Japanese exports. This year, bans on Japanese exports have been lifted for pears to Viet Nam, beef to Taiwan, and persimmons to the United States.

The Abe Cabinet today approved a comprehensive TPP-related policy framework that includes measures for the strategic promotion of the export of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and foods. We will continue to offer our full support to all of you involved in exports.

The total amount of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and foods exported last year was valued at over 750 billion yen, hitting a record high for the fourth consecutive year. Furthermore, we are on track to set a new record this year as well.

There are approximately 120,000 Japanese restaurants overseas. Japanese food continues to see rising popularity in foreign countries. The global food market is growing continuously. There is still significant room to increase the export of Japanese agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and foods by capturing this demand.

Let us first start by further increasing the export of Japan’s wonderful agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and foods, with Minister Saito and everyone here working together, toward achieving our 1 trillion yen export target by 2019.

Upon retaking the reins of government we stated that we would increase exports of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products. At that time, the pervading atmosphere was that this was an impossible task. However, if you put your mind to it, anything is possible. We are now expected to have record high exports for the fifth consecutive year. Under these circumstances, the number of new farmers who are 40 years of age or younger has exceeded 20,000 people for three years in a row. This is the first time this has happened since we started keeping statistics. I believe young people have begun to feel that agriculture is a sector where they can open up new horizons through their own passion and hard work.

I think we will continue to see the advent of more delicious, safe, and wonderful agricultural, forestry, and fishery products. We will create even more robust channels for the export of these products overseas. With your cooperation, we will also create frameworks that will leave steady profits for producers.

In closing, I would like to conclude my remarks by wishing everyone further success. Congratulations.”


Gathering of “Discover the Treasures of Farming, Mountain and Fishing Villages”

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, November 22, 2017

[Provisional Translation]

On November 22, 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the Gathering of “Discover the Treasures of Farming, Mountain and Fishing Villages” at the Prime Minister's Office.

The Prime Minister said in his opening address,

“Thank you very much for coming to this Gathering of ‘Discover the Treasures of Farming, Mountain and Fishing Villages’ today.

There are many treasures in Japan. Along with searching for treasures, many of you are probably also creating new treasures. For example, in tourism, sometimes you find that something, such as a place or a site, you had taken for granted was in fact a wonderful treasure of Japan.

Where I come from, there is a shrine called Motonosumi Inari Shrine. It is a small shrine in a very small town, the former Yuya Town, in Nagato City. There are rows of many red torii gates stretched towards the sea. Since this is my home district, I pass by this shrine frequently. However, I do not have the time to look at the shrine carefully during my usual local activities and had only given it a passing glance. The members of this community also pass by the shrine but hardly ever go in it. The shrine had maybe about 1,000 or fewer visitors per year. However, this shrine was introduced on CNN and, as a result, hundreds of thousands of people, from both Japan and overseas, now visit the shrine annually. Recently, the Shinto priest at this shrine mentioned for the first time to me that it had German visitors. People from all over the world come to visit this shrine. There is a tako-yaki (grilled octopus balls) stand in front of this shrine, and they said they are so busy they have their hands completely full. As in this example, Japan has many hidden beautiful treasures that we may be unaware of.

There are these beautiful treasures in the regions, as well as treasures that have been newly created in the regions as a result of your efforts. You have created new treasures that feature the traditions, culture, or foods of their regions. I imagine they will develop into major attractions.

The number of annual foreign visitors to Japan, which began at 8 million at the start of our administration, has exceeded 24 million, and will likely reach 28 million this year. Many visitors from overseas want to not only visit the usual places such as Tokyo and Kyoto as they did before, but also have more exposure to Japan, its regions and rural areas. Therefore I hope you will continue to steadily attract them.

We are eager to help you attract many visitors, both domestically and internationally, and to spread the word about your wonderful foods and craft products.

I understand that those in attendance today were selected from among 844 applicants. I hope you will take confidence from this and exert even greater efforts going forward.

I would like to work together with you so that we can continue to protect and develop appealing, beautiful regions and villages. Let us work together. My sincere congratulations to you all.”


The National Governors’ Conference

Cabinet Secretariat, Friday, October 27, 2017

[Provisional Translation]

On November 24, 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the National Governors’ Conference held at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“Thank you very much for coming from all over the country today despite your busy schedules. I am very happy to have this opportunity to hear views directly from governors who are constantly making efforts to further develop and advance your prefectures.

The Abe Cabinet has created a positive economic cycle by releasing the three arrows of Abenomics. The ratio of active job openings to applicants by work location is now over 1.0 in all prefectures. The employment rate of those who graduated from high school and university this past spring was a record high. The ratio of active job openings to applicants for full-time employment exceeded 1.0 for the first time since we started conducting surveys.

We have been able to get this far by continuing to release the arrows of Abenomics reforms for nearly five years. To further enrich the lives of the people, we are promoting revolutions in productivity and human resources development as the two wheels of the cart in tackling the enormous challenge of a declining birthrate and aging population.

With regard to productivity revolution, we have positioned the three years leading up to FY2020 as an intensive investment period. We will boost productivity by mobilizing every kind of measure, including bold tax system, budgetary, and regulatory reform measures. We will ensure that the momentum from the four consecutive years of wage increases will be further strengthened in all corners of Japan.

In addition, setting our sights on a 100-year life society, we will decisively promote a revolution in human resources development and create a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged. We will review the use of consumption tax revenues to make significant strides in making preschool education free, eliminating childcare waiting lists, and securing human resources for nursing care. In this way we will greatly transform the social security system into one oriented to all generations by boldly putting government resources into the child-rearing generation and children. In order to crystallize the policies for these pillars, we will compile a new package of policies early next month.

At the same time, we will quickly implement those measures which are feasible. In order to overcome the challenge of a declining birthrate and aging population, we will take full advantage of the capabilities of the individuals with outstanding talents and the regions with wisdom.

As we reach the mid-way point of the comprehensive strategy for overcoming population decline and vitalizing local economy, we are starting to see wonderful examples of regional revitalization. For instance, in the seven prefectures that surround the Seto Inland Sea, a system has been developed for the integrated management of the entire area as a sightseeing site, and marketing and promotional activities are being carried out together with private businesses and financial institutions. As a result, the number of foreign nationals that visit and spend a night in the area has roughly tripled over the past four years, a rate of growth that far exceeds the national average. The Government will extend active supports in terms of information, human resources, and financing in order to accelerate these regional initiatives.

The Abe Cabinet will continue to uphold the basic position that Japan will not be vital without vital local regions. While continuing to conduct careful discussions with everyone, including today’s meeting, the Government will make concerted efforts to implement various measures such that the people of the regions will be able to further experience for themselves the positive cycle of growth and distribution. Thank you very much.”


30th International Maritime Organization Assembly (Responses to ballistic missile launches by North Korea)

Foreign Affairs, Thursday, November 30, 2017

1. At the 30th Assembly of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which was held in London on November 29 (same day, local time), deliberations took place on responding to the grave concerns for the safety of international maritime transport that are being generated by North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, and an IMO Council decision based on a document that was jointly proposed by a total of 15 countries*, including Japan, was approved.

* Japan, Australia, the Kingdom of Belgium, Canada, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, the Italian Republic, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America

2. This joint document calls on the IMO Council to strongly condemn North Korea’s ballistic missile launches, and reiterates that it is essential to cease unlawful ballistic missile launches over international shipping lanes, in accordance with resolutions and other regulations adopted under the IMO. The document was submitted to the 29th Council Extraordinary Session of the IMO, and was adopted at the Council on November 25. In light of this, the content of the document was discussed further at this Assembly, and on that basis the Council’s decision to take action in accordance with the requests made in that document was approved.

3. Following North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on November 29, Japan reiterated at the 30th Assembly that the recent missile launch constitutes a clear violation of not only the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, but also of the relevant treaties and resolutions of the IMO stipulating advance notification of information which might affect the safety of navigation, and that the missile launch represented a serious issue from the perspective of ensuring the safety of vessels.

4. In order to ensure the safety of international maritime transport, Japan intends to continue to work closely with the IMO and the countries concerned and strongly urge North Korea to comply with the relevant IMO treaties, resolution and other decisions.

The Assembly is the highest decision-making organ of the IMO. It consists of all IMO Member States and regions and meets once every two years. The Assembly decides the IMO’s work programme and budget, establishes auxiliary agencies, elects the Council Member States and discusses the Council’s reports.


Signing of Grant Agreement with UNICEF for Afghanistan: Supporting infectious disease control in Afghanistan through a partnership with UNICEF

JICA, Tuesday, November 28, 2017

On November 27, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Kabul to provide grant aid of up to 978 million yen for the Project for Infectious Diseases Prevention for Children.

The project will procure vaccines needed for routine immunization against various diseases and polio vaccination campaigns planned in Afghanistan in 2018, and support awareness raising activities, contributing to the prevention of communicable diseases throughout the country.

Afghanistan has some of the highest neonatal, infant and maternal death rates of any country in the world. Diseases that can be prevented by vaccination still exist for various reasons, including unsafe conditions, poor access to health care facilities, and a lack of information about vaccination. Therefore, the international community, including Japan and UNICEF are supporting the procurement of vaccines, building the capacity of medical workers, and raising awareness in communities so that the routine immunization program of the Government of Afghanistan is implemented smoothly and in a timely manner.

Of particular concern is that Afghanistan is one of only three polio endemic countries* in the world. Polio primarily infects infants and it may leave lifelong paralysis in the limbs or other areas. Because the disease can be prevented with vaccination, polio campaigns and routine immunization are usually carried out in those endemic countries to achieve early eradication of polio.

The project will assist in procuring vaccines for routine immunization, including polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B for 1.37 million infants under the age of one, and tetanus for 2.5 million women of childbearing age throughout Afghanistan, which is expected to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, 10.03 million children under five in the country will receive the polio vaccination with vaccines supported by the project, contributing to taking steps toward polio eradication.

* Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan as of November 28, 2017.


4th Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Japan and the EU

Foreign Affairs, Friday, November 24, 2017

On 24 November 2017 in Tokyo, H.E. Takeshi Nakane, Ambassador for Science and Technology Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and H.E. Viorel Isticioaia-Budura, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Japan, opened the fourth meeting of the Japan-EU Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, organised under the Japan-EU Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, which entered into force on 29 March 2011. After the opening, the co-chairmanship on the EU side was left to Mr Philippe Vialatte, Deputy Head of Unit for International Cooperation, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Ambassador Nakane co-chaired the meeting on the Japanese side.

The Joint Committee Meeting was held with participation of a wide range of ministries and agencies from Japan and the European Commission.

At the beginning of the meeting, the co-chairs recalled the strategic importance of Japan-EU relations in the field of science and technology, to promote excellence of their research, increase the competitiveness of their industries, and effectively address common and global societal challenges. They agreed to jointly work towards the full implementation of the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership in Research and Innovation, as adopted by the 3rd EU-Japan Joint S&T Committee and endorsed by the EU-Japan Summit in May 2015.

Both sides presented the recent developments of their respective Science, Technology and Innovation Policies. They noted the improvement of the framework conditions to facilitate the Japan-EU cooperation, among others, the agreement of Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) to continue co-fund projects in open Horizon 2020 calls, such as on technologies for first responders. Furthermore, cooperation will be promoted through the cooperation arrangement between the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the European Research Council (ERC). The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) were highlighted as an important instrument to promote researchers' mobility.

Subsequently, both sides reviewed the research and innovation cooperation actions implemented in the areas of mutual interest since the 3rd Joint S&T Committee meeting in Brussels in 2015, in particular in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Transport research (notably in Aeronautics, but also cooperation possibilities in Automated Driving Technologies) and Advanced Materials research. Recent developments of collaborative activities in some important areas, such as Health/Medical research, were presented with ideas for future cooperation. Both sides welcomed the Research Framework Arrangement between the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) that will develop a mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of Nanotechnology and Chemicals, Metrology and Measurement, and Energy among others.

Both sides also exchanged views on potential areas for future cooperation, such as in Renewable Energy Research, Arctic Research, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) (including Nature based solutions and Earthquake Early Warning System), and Quantum Technology. Both sides confirmed the importance of the Horizon 2020 National Contact Point in Japan and the outreach activities to promote public engagement.

Both sides confirmed that the date of the next Joint Committee Meeting would be coordinated through diplomatic channels.


Signing of Dollar-Denominated Japanese ODA Loan Agreement with Jamaica: Contributing to the promotion of energy conservation through improvements to public facilities with energy-saving devices

JICA, Friday, November 24, 2017

On November 23, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement with the Government of Jamaica in Kingston to provide a Japanese ODA loan of up to 15 million US dollars for the Energy Management and Efficiency Programme. The program is in response to a request from the Government of Jamaica and will be the first US dollar-denominated loan that JICA has made.

The program will introduce energy-saving technology and equipment in public facilities throughout Jamaica, mainly in Kingston, the capital city, and provide support for establishing an Urban Traffic Management System in the transportation sector in Kingston. These efforts will promote energy efficiency in both the private and public sectors with the object of contributing to the mitigation of climate change effects and to overcoming vulnerabilities to climate change. The loan funds will be allocated to the procurement of air conditioning equipment, boilers, LED lighting, solar light panels and other equipment as energy efficiency measures in public facilities, construction to install the equipment, the procurement of optic fiber cables, traffic signals, cameras, sensors and other equipment for the establishment of an Urban Traffic Management System on the capital arterials, and consulting services.

Jamaica is dependent on fossil fuels imported from overseas for more than 90 percent of its energy resources, a factor behind deterioration of the national finances. The Government of Jamaica has made reducing fossil fuel imports through the promotion of energy efficiency a priority, and the Government of Jamaica has maintained the target of “Energy Security and Efficiency” ever since it was established in the National Development Plan in 2009.

As a concrete measure to achieve that target, the government policy is to promote energy efficiency and conservation particularly in the public and transportation sectors where energy and fuel consumption is large. Accounting for 13 percent of all the power consumed in the country, the public sector also leads other sectors in power consumption growth, making energy efficiency in public facilities a priority. As for the transportation sector, the average driving speed for vehicles is limited particularly in Kingston due to an inefficient Urban Traffic Management System, and by improving that system, it is expected that the fuel consumption can be reduced approximately 40 percent.

This is the first loan to Jamaica in more than 20 years, since 1996.* In March 2012, JICA and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) agreed to implement a framework for supporting the Co-financing for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Central America and the Caribbean. This program is based on that framework and will be implemented with co-financing from the IDB.

* In 1996, a loan was made for the Kingston Metropolitan Area Water Supply Project.


Signing of Grant Agreement with the UNDP for Afghanistan and Tajikistan: Contributing to regional stability and improved living conditions for residents through a partnership with the UNDP

JICA, Monday, October 30, 2017

On November 27, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kabul to provide grant aid of up to 1.033 billion yen for the Project for Livelihood Improvement in Tajik-Afghan Cross-Border Areas (Phase 2).

The project will provide support for building local government capacity, providing basic infrastructure and promoting economic activities in 12 provinces and districts along Tajik-Afghan border areas to contribute to livelihood improvements in the border areas of both countries.

The target areas of the project have the potential for social development and economic growth as trade centers with their cross-border geographical characteristics. However, Afghanistan still has many reconstruction challenges, particularly in rural areas, caused by conflicts and other issues, and Tajikistan also faces the challenge of large geographical economic discrepancies. The basic socioeconomic infrastructure is also inadequate, particularly schools, and health and irrigation facilities, and job opportunities and economic activities are limited, imposing strict living conditions on local residents.

JICA has been implementing the Project for Livelihood Improvement in Tajik-Afghan Cross-border Areas for three years since March 2014, to rehabilitate basic social infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, irrigation and water supply facilities and small-scale hydroelectric plants, and to build the capacity of local governments to better provide public services. The project also trains farmers and entrepreneurs, and provides occupational training opportunities to socially vulnerable groups such as the handicapped and women. Through such efforts, the project has contributed to an increase in the income of residents in the target areas and expanded employment opportunities. These measures are stimulating economic activities in the areas centering around newly established cross-border markets and more entrepreneurs are undertaking small-scale businesses, such as handicraft and agricultural production.

Building on the experiences of that cooperation, the present project will provide basic infrastructure, including schools, and health and irrigation facilities that are still underdeveloped in the cross-border areas, stimulate the local economy using local resources and products, and foster business-related human resource development such as entrepreneurs. Through these efforts, it is hoped that the standard of living of approximately 1.9 million people living in Afghanistan and Tajikistan will be improved, while economic trade is stimulated, contributing to stability in the area.