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Executives' Comments  Press Conferences Chairman Sakakibara's Statements and Comments
at His Press Conference

April 23, 2018

Trade Issues with the US

I welcome the agreement reached at the recent Japan-US summit to begin talks on free, fair, and reciprocal trade arrangements. Accord between the leaders of Japan and the US on working toward rule-based, free, and open economic growth in the Indo-Pacific region represents significant progress. Although the views of our two countries diverge somewhat, with Japan advocating the Trans-Pacific Partnership while the US prioritizes bilateral negotiations, I expect to see further progress in discussions between Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Rule-making is crucial.

Protecting and Promoting the Content Industry

The government's Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters has resolved to take an emergency measure to deal with piracy websites, indicating that it is appropriate for private internet service providers to voluntarily block access to such sites. This emergency measure is recognized as temporarily approving the blocking of piracy sites until the government makes necessary legislative revisions. Creators spend time and effort developing content, and breaching copyright to post it on internet sites viewable by anyone free of charge is an infringement of intellectual property rights. Disregarding such conduct would have a serious impact on the Japanese content industry. Effective measures, including legislative revisions, will be required in the future.

Companies Act

Under the existing legal system, shareholders can submit any number of proposals at general meetings of shareholders. Such meetings provide a valuable opportunity for dialogue and should be forums for discussion with as many shareholders as possible. Keidanren has suggested a specific upper limit on the number of proposals shareholders can make. We have also recommended standards for placing conditions on the exercising of shareholder proposal rights, in the belief that shareholders with a certain number of shares who contribute to the company from a position of responsibility should have proposal rights.

North Korean Issue

North Korea's announcement that it will suspend nuclear and missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site is a positive move. I believe it results from various initiatives, including diplomatic efforts and sanctions, taken by Japan, the US, South Korea and other interested countries. However, the announcement did not mention denuclearization. The test suspension announcement is a first step, but it is vital to bring about complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization. The world cannot rest easy until it can confirm the disposal of all nuclear weapons, including warheads, ICBMs, and mid- and short-range missiles. Summits between North and South Korea and between the US and North Korea will take place soon. It is significant that, prior to this, Prime Minister Abe was able to share views on the North Korean issue at his recent meeting with President Trump. I will continue to monitor developments.

Ministry of Finance Scandals

At a time when the Ministry of Finance is under rigorous public scrutiny, the very emergence of a new scandal at the ministry suggests poor judgment. I urge full accountability on the part of the ministry to earn public trust. National government officials are supposed to set an example for people, and I hope the ministry will do its utmost to reform its organizational culture, including eradication of sexual harassment.

Minister of Finance Taro Aso will decide his own course of action, and it is not for me to comment upon. Dealing with the serious situation facing the ministry and normalizing its operations are important duties.

However, amid tension in the international situation, it is peculiar for the Diet to spend time discussing scandals. Although such issues should not be ignored, the role and responsibility of the legislature is to deliberate on the country's most important issues and introduce legislation. Important matters, including debate on the working style reform bill and ratification of the TPP 11 agreement, are piling up. Dealing with scandals is important, but inquiries need to be conducted in forums other than the Diet. The business community strongly urges the Diet to proceed with discussion of important bills and pass them during the current session.

Executives' Comments