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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, February 22, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Takeshima Day on February 22 and Japan-ROK relations
  • U.S.-ROK relations concerning wartime operational control of the military
  • The nuclear test by North Korea
  • The role of the Office for Healthcare and Medical Strategy
  • The TPP
  • The decommissioning of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • Japan-Russia relations

REPORTER: Today, the Takeshima Day ceremony was held, and the ceremony is  now finished. The Parliamentary Secretary attended as scheduled. Has the Republic of Korea (ROK) lodged a formal protest or made any appeals to the Japanese Government as a result of the ceremony?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: On the 22nd, so this afternoon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK lodged a protest to the Japanese Embassy in the ROK regarding the attendance of Parliamentary Secretary of Cabinet Office Shimajiri at the Takeshima Day ceremonyin Shimane Prefecture. However, we responded that we cannot accept the ROK's protest in view of the Japanese Government's position regarding the Takeshima dispute. While such disputes exist and Japan will continue to consistently stand by our position regarding the Takeshima dispute, at the same time, the ROK is an important neighbor with which we share basic values and interests. Therefore, we will work to enhance our bilateral relations based on a broad perspective. 

REPORTER: Related to this, Deputy Prime Minister Aso is scheduled to shortly attend the inauguration ceremony of the ROK President. Given that the ROK has lodged a protest, what kind of impact do you think this situation will have in this regard? What about the impact on the meeting with President Park?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that is not impacted. It is natural that Japan fully stands by its position. 

REPORTER: If I may confirm, has the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Aso and the new President been completely finalized?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, it is currently being arranged. In any case, it was yesterday that the attendance of the Deputy Prime Minister was decided. Due to Diet affairs, we have not been able to make the arrangements. The arrangements are therefore currently being made. 

REPORTER: Regarding this same topic, do you foresee any chances of the meeting not taking place between the Deputy Prime Minister and the new President?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not know. I understand that this is being arranged precisely at this time.

REPORTER: Two days ago, the U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Sung Kim issued a comment to the effect that wartime operational control of the military, which will be transferred to the ROK in December 2015, will not be transferred if the ROK is not ready. I recall that it was 2010 when the previous scheduled transfer was postponed. What is your view regarding U.S.-ROK relations at this time following North Korea's third nuclear test?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this is the first time that I am hearing about this, I would like to refrain from commenting.

REPORTER: A short while ago, at 3:00 pm, it was announced that the Response Office at the Prime Minister's Office pertaining to the information on North Korea's nuclear test that is currently setup was reorganized into the Information Liaison Office. Can you explain what the implications of this are? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Ever since North Korea conducted a nuclear test on February 12, we have strengthened our monitoring system and have been studying the effects of the radioactive substances on Japan. Today, it was determined that there is no impact on human health or on the environment. Bearing these factors in mind, it was decided that effective from 3:00 pm today, the monitoring system will be returned to the normal system, and concurrently, the Response Office at the Prime Minister's Office was reorganized into the Information Liaison Office.

REPORTER: I'm sorry, if I may ask another question, I believe there is a variety of information out there, including some news reports, which speculate the possibility of a second nuclear test. At this point in time, how is the Government dealing with this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Even in normal circumstances, the Government collects and analyzes information regarding North Korea's nuclear development with heavy interest. However, due to the nature of this matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on the specifics. 

REPORTER: The Nikkei Shimbun has reported that considerations have been initiated regarding the establishment of a new organization that will promote research in regenerative medicine using iPS cells and the development of new drugs. Is it correct to understand that this is related to or is part of the Office for Healthcare and Medical Strategy which you mentioned the other day? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of this article. I launched the Office for Healthcare and Medical Strategy as an organization which is under my direct control in order to create a powerful implementation system that will cut across the different ministries. It was launched with a view to first deal with the growth strategy for the health and medicine sector. While there are a variety of news reports, I believe it is natural that the office first fully implement the growth strategy and carry out reforms in the context of the entire organization.

REPORTER: Is iPS included as one of the items?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be determined in light of the whole strategy.

REPORTER: Changing the subject to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), today, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Hayashi stated in his press conference following the Cabinet meeting that the preliminary calculation that the Government is currently compiling with regard to the TPP is not a prerequisite for making a decision on whether or not to join the negotiations. In other words, I believe his understanding is that the decision on whether or not to join the negotiations will be made prior to the disclosure of the preliminary calculation. Do you have a similar understanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, I believe a key point here is what sort of feeling the Prime Minister gets when he meets with President Obama, and I believe the Prime Minister will make a decision bearing these in mind.

REPORTER: Regarding this, roughly speaking, when will the preliminary calculation be compiled?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are working on compiling it as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: In this regard, Minister Hayashi was making his statement with the possibility that it may not be disclosed. Will the preliminary calculation be disclosed? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will do the preliminary calculation carefully. In any case, we would like to prevent the release of several calculations for Japan. The Government is doing the calculation with the intention of having one set of calculations.

REPORTER: Will you be announcing it?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be coordinated. We are doing the preliminary calculation carefully.

REPORTER: According to some reports, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has finalized a policy that aims to implement an international program for the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. How does the Government intend to make commitments to IAEA going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan's basic view is to steadily take mid- to long-term decommissioning measures making use of wisdom from inside and outside of Japan, while ensuring transparency towards the international community, including IAEA.

REPORTER: I understand that when former Prime Minister Mori met with Chair Naryshkin of the State Duma of Russia a short while ago, the Chair touched on Prime Minister Abe's visit to Russia at the end of April. Was a report as such received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials who are accompanying the Prime Minister? Or are arrangements being made to this end?    

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have also been briefed that there were such talks in front of everyone. In any case, as there is the Diet schedule, I believe it will be negotiated while bearing in mind these factors.

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