Press Conference by Shoichi Nakagawa, Minister of Finance and Minister for Financial Services
January 5, 2009
[Opening Remarks by Minister Nakagawa]
At the beginning of today’s cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister expressed his strong resolve to put top priority on getting Japan out of the recession and achieving an economic recovery and to do his utmost to enact the second supplementary budget and related bills. For my part, I already explained the outline of the supplementary budget for the general-account budget for fiscal 2008, which will be deliberated in the Diet session starting today, and the cabinet formally decided to submit it to the Diet.
At an informal meeting of cabinet ministers, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare reported that regarding housing support in the period around the turn of the year, which is provided ever year, his ministry is making all-out efforts amid the particularly severe situation of this year. There are many people who are too financially squeezed to even pay for transport to “Hello Work” employment support centers. The Prime Minister gave an instruction to the effect that the government, under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, should continue all-out efforts to support the people’s daily lives, housing and employment. In addition, it was reported that emergency loan guarantees worth 3.9 trillion yen were provided late last year. The quota for emergency guarantees has not yet been used up, and this quota, as well as the quota for safety net loans, will be expanded in the supplementary budget, so the Prime Minister instructed relevant parties, who worked hard until December 30, even on holidays, to continue to make efforts to facilitate financing for small and medium-size enterprises. I do not have any further statements to make.
[Questions and Answers]
Today, the first trading day of the year, the TSE (Tokyo Stock Exchange) made a good start as stock prices (as measured by the Nikkei Average) rebounded to 9,000. Ho do you feel about this? Also, following the largest annual stock price drop ever that was recorded last year, how would you like the stock market to perform this year?
If I remember correctly, despite a difficult environment early last year, many people said that the stock market would recover later in the year, while some experts and market participants now predict that this will be a very difficult year. In this situation, countries around the world are implementing a variety of measures on their own and in cooperation with each other. In Japan, too, the government and the private sector must work together and do their best to overcome this crisis situation. In this sense, stable foreign exchange rates and the stock price rise today, which came after a moderate recovery in markets around the world around the turn of the year, reflect the strong resolve of the private sector, or the business circles, to overcome this difficult situation, and we must also do our best to accomplish what must be done with a similar resolve. For the moment, I feel as if we are being encouraged by the market to cheer up. That is my impression of the current market conditions.
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