JapanGov Weekly

Friday, March 29, 2019

Press Conference on the FY2019 Budget

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 27, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a press conference at the Diet.

Regarding the FY2019 budget, the Prime Minister said,

“I have consistently advocated that the early passage of the budget is itself the most important stimulus to the economy. Fortunately, we have managed to pass the budget before the end of the fiscal year. We would like to exert every effort to swiftly execute this budget. As the global economy increases its uncertainty, I intend to take all possible measures to manage our economy by swift execution of the budget followed by the countermeasures worth 2 trillion yen pursuant to the consumption tax increase.

In addition, this budget aims to strengthen administrative capacity of the local government and further enhance our efforts to promote regional revitalization such as support for agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries. With the passing of this budget, we will realize early childhood education and childcare free of charge from October. At the same time, we are to proceed with measures including the increase of the amount of pension and the reduction of long-term care insurance premiums for the elderly. Through these efforts, we intend to transform our social security system to one which is oriented to all generations. To that end, I believe this budget will be the first major step to move forward.

In the second half of the Diet session, I would like to ask the Diet to deliberate on relevant bills to materialize early childhood education and higher education free of charge and those to prevent child abuse, and I intend to exert efforts to enact them.”


Headquarters for the Promotion of Integrated Resorts

Cabinet Secretariat, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 26, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the fourth meeting of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Integrated Resorts (Headquarters for Promoting Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas) at the Prime Minister’s Office.

During the meeting, a discussion was held on the Draft Government Ordinance Pursuant to the Act on Promotion of Development of Specified Complex Tourist Facilities Areas and other matters.

Based on the discussion, the Prime Minister said,

“The Abe administration has been working on detailed design of the system under the Integrated Resort (IR) Development Act, which was enacted in summer last year, with the aim of materializing an attractive Japanese-style IR.

The Draft Government Ordinance Pursuant to the IR Development Act, which Minister in charge of Integrated Resorts Ishii just briefed today, requests facilities, which consist of an IR such as international conference halls, to achieve an unprecedented scale and quality as its designated standard and criteria and introduces relevant clauses to materialize world-class casino regulations, with the aim to realize long-stay tourism which attracts tourists from all over the world.

Going forward, the Government aims at making Japan a leading nation in tourism, exerting every effort to establish the Casino Administration Committee and set forth the basic policies, as determined in the IR Development Act.

I ask for the continued cooperation of all relevant parties.”


Courtesy Call from the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps

Cabinet Secretariat, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 26, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a courtesy call from General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, at the Prime Minister’s Office.


Japan-Eritrea Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Working Lunch

Foreign Affairs, Thursday, March 28, 2019

On March 28, commencing at around 00:00 p.m. for approximately one hour, Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a meeting with H.E. Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea, who was making a working visit to Japan upon invitation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The overview is as follows.

1. Minister Kono welcomed Minister Osman’s visit to Japan and welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia in July for the first time in 20 years. Minister Kono also expressed that Japan as the host country of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) taking place in August, recognizes the peace and stability of Horn of Africa region as one of the most important topics for Africa’s peace and stability, and would continue its support in the Horn of Africa region and South Sudan where Japan is supporting its peace process together with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

2. In response, Minister Osman expressed his gratitude and hope for Japan’s contribution to Eritrea and to the peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.

3. The two Ministers confirmed their collaboration to enhance the cooperative relationship between the two countries, and to cooperate for the success of TICAD7.

4. Both Ministers also exchanged views regarding issues in the international arena, such as North Korea situation and United Nations Security Council reform.


Japan-Timor-Leste Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Foreign Affairs, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

 On March 27, commencing at 6:50 p.m.for 70 minutes, Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting over dinner with H.E. Dr. Dionisio da Costa Babo Soares, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, during his visit to Japan. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

 In his opening remarks, Minister Kono welcomed Minister Babo’s visit to Japan and thanked Timor-Leste for the warm hospitality he received when he visited the country in October 2018 for the first time as Japanese Foreign Minister since the restoration of independence. Minister Kono stated that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Donors’ Meeting for Timor-Leste in Tokyo, and would like to discuss with Minister Babo how to enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries on this occasion.

 In response, Minister Babo stated that he was pleased to meet Minister Kono again since August 2018 and expressed appreciation for the welcome extended by Minister Kono. Minister Babo stated that his visit to Osaka was meaningful and expressed hope for further strengthening the bilateral relationship especially through reciprocal visits by the two foreign ministers. In addition, Minister Babo noted that job creation was one of the goals of Timor-Leste’ Government, and in this regard, expressed interest in sending workers from Timor-Leste to Japan.

 The two Ministers shared the view that the two countries will enhance cooperation in various fields, including education and human resources development towards economic diversification and job creation in Timor-Leste, people-to-people exchanges on the occasion of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, infrastructure development and maritime fields. In addition, the two Ministers welcomed the progress of trilateral cooperation among Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Japan and confirmed their intention to aim for the swift holding of the second working-level consultations.
The two Ministers exchanged views regarding regional and international situations, including North Korea and the South China Sea issues.


The First Subway in Indonesia Starts Operation: Opening Ceremony for Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (the Jakarta MRT South-North Line) –Subway opens with national support from Japan–

JICA, Thursday, March 28, 2019

On March 24, the opening ceremony for the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (Jakarta MRT South-North Line), the first subway in Indonesia, was held in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, and its operation began from the following day.

Attendees representing Indonesia at the ceremony were Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia; Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance; Budi Karya Sumadi, Minister of Transportation; and William Sabandar, President Director of MRT Jakarta (PT Mass Rapid Transit Jakarta). Attendees representing Japan included Masafumi Ishii, Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia; Yasuhiro Shinohara, Japan’s Vice Minister for International Affairs at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; and Yasushi Tanaka, Senior Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), along with representatives from the private sector, including construction companies that performed work on the project.

JICA supported construction of the Mass Rapid Transit system connecting the north and south parts of Jakarta through Japanese ODA loans. In November 2006, a Japanese ODA loan agreement was signed [1], supporting the construction of a 15.7-kilometer segment of line (Phase 1) connecting Lebak Bulus in the southwestern part of Jakarta and Bundaran HI (Hotel Indonesia) in the central part of Jakarta.

JICA has supported subway construction projects with Japanese ODA loans around the world, but Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit Project was implemented through an “All-Japan” system to carry out all aspects of the construction, including civil works, rolling stock delivery, and electrical and mechanical systems.

The population of Jakarta Metropolitan Area is rising at a rapid pace, and the number of commuters to the central part of Jakarta, where economic activities are concentrated, is increasing each year. Because Jakarta Metropolitan Area depends on road network for most passenger and cargo transportation, traffic congestion is serious, worsening the investment environment and increasing the air pollution with exhaust gas. The opening of the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit will promote a modal shift from automobile to public transportation, which is expected to address the rising demand for transportation, alleviate the traffic congestion, improve the investment environment, and reduce the burden on the environment in Jakarta Metropolitan Area.

JICA also plans to provide on-going support with Japanese ODA loans for an extension of the Mass Rapid Transit from Bundaran HI to Kampung Bandan in northern Jakarta (Phase 2: 7.8 kilometers) [2].

[1]: A Japanese ODA loan (engineering services loan) was signed in November 2006 for up to 1.869 billion yen, and Japanese ODA loans (main loans) were signed for up to 48.15 billion yen in March 2009 and for up to 75.218 billion yen in December 2015.

[2]: A Japanese ODA loan was signed for up to 70.021 billion yen for the extension line in October 2018.


Memorandum of Cooperation between Japan and Myanmar on a Basic Framework for Information Partnership for Proper Operation of the System pertaining to Foreign Human Resources with the Status of Residence of “Specified Skilled Worker”

Foreign Affairs, Thursday, March 28, 2019

1. On March 28 (Thursday), the Memorandum of Cooperation on a Basic Framework for Information Partnership for Proper Operation of the System pertaining to Foreign Human Resources with the Status of Residence of “Specified Skilled Worker” was signed and exchanged in Nay Pyi Taw.

2. The purpose of this Memorandum of Cooperation is to establish a basic framework for information partnership in order to ensure smooth and proper sending and accepting specified skilled workers, in particular the elimination of malicious intermediary organizations, and to resolve the problems of sending, accepting and residing in Japan of specified skilled worker.

3. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs enhances the mutual benefits of both countries through cooperation for proper operation of the system, cooperating with the relevant ministries and agencies of Japan.


Dispatch of the Japan Disaster Relief Expert and Medical Team in Response to the Cyclone Damage in Mozambique

Foreign Affairs, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

1. Today, March 27, upon the request of the Government of the Republic of Mozambique, the Government of Japan decided to dispatch the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Expert Team and Medical Team to Mozambique in response to the damage caused by the recent cyclone. The Expert Team will depart for Mozambique on March 27 and the Medical Team on March 28.

2. Upon the request of the Government of Mozambique, and in light of humanitarian perspective and the close relations between Japan and Mozambique, Japan has decided to provide emergency assistance to Mozambique to meet its humanitarian needs.

3. The Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Expert Team will support clinical data management for efficient and effective relief coordination and the Medical Team will provide medical assistance.