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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • An overview of the Cabinet meeting
  • Cabinet approval on the invitation to the President of the French Republic and his wife to visit Japan as State Guests
  • Decision to review the areas to which evacuation orders have been issued in Futaba Town, Fukushima Prefecture

I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 10 general and other measures as well as the promulgation of legislation, cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning the results of the labor force survey and the household budget survey.

In today's Cabinet meeting it was decided to extend an invitation to Mr. Francois Hollande, President of the French Republic and Ms. Valérie Trierweiler to visit Japan as State Guests from June 6 to 8. This will be the first time in 17 years for a French president to visit Japan as a State Guest. The Government intends to make preparations for the visit to ensure that it provides opportunities to further develop Japan-France relations. In particular, on the occasion of President Hollande's visit, the Government wishes to announce a policy of cooperation, looking toward the next five years, which concentrates on the three areas of politics and security, the economy, and culture, as a means for Japan and France to cooperate for the stability and prosperity of the international community. The aim is to build a special partnership between Japan and France as a result of such cooperation.

Today a round-robin meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters was held, and it was decided to revise the areas to which evacuation orders have been issued in Futaba Town in Fukushima Prefecture. In specific terms, the whole of Futaba Town is currently designated as a restricted area, but this designation will be revised into two categories, namely areas where the evacuation order is ready to be lifted and areas where long-term evacuation is inevitable. The new designations will go into effect at midnight on May 28. With this revision the various areas and designations in a total of 10 out of 11 municipalities where restricted areas and deliberate evacuation areas are located have been completed. The Government seeks to implement similar revisions to the designation of areas in the remaining municipality of Kawamata Town at an early date.


  • Response to the situation of North Korea
  • The understanding of history
  • The Nikkei Stock Average
  • The issue of the revision of the Constitution

REPORTER: With regard to the North Korea missile issue, it appears that two mobile launch pads have been dismantled at the missile launch site. Is the Government aware of the facts behind this apparent dismantlement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has various sources of information and in any case we are continuing to make every effort to protect the safety and security of the public, in any situation that may arise.

REPORTER: Has the Government been in contact with the Governments of the United States and the Republic of Korea concerning this missile-related information?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has a grave interest in any information relating to the missile issue in North Korea and we are collecting and analyzing such information. Given the nature of the information I would like to refrain from making any comment about the content of specific items of information.

REPORTER: With regard to the missile issue, are we to understand that the level of alert remains the same as it has been to date?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, the Government continues to maintain a posture that will allow a response to any situation.


REPORTER: I have a question relating to the understanding of history. In a lecture given on May 3, former United States Ambassador Schieffer stated with regard to visits to Yasukuni Shrine that while he understood the desire to pay respect to the people who lost their lives in the service of their country, the revision of the Kono Statement (the Statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993) on the issue of "comfort women" would be significantly detrimental to Japan's interests in the United States and Asia. What are your thoughts about a foreign ambassador making such comments about Japanese history and the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the statement that you have just mentioned. With regard to the Kono Statement, as I have said on previous occasions, nothing has been mentioned about reconsidering the statement, or about its revision. The basic stance of the Abe Administration is that this issue should not be turned into a political or diplomatic issue.

REPORTER: This morning the Nikkei Stock Average rose above 14,000 yen for the first time in four years and 11 months. What is your reaction to this news?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have often stated, I believe higher stock prices are better than lower. Also, I believe that the higher stock index value indicates that there is increasing understanding of "Abenomics" among those involved in the financial markets, both at home and overseas. The Government will continue to implement our various election pledges with a sense of speed and will make every effort to break out of the prolonged deflationary cycle and strong yen.

REPORTER: On May 5 the Prime Minister stated that there would need to be adequate discussion on the issue of the revision of Article 96 of the Constitution and that he is seeking to engage in calm discussions with the New Komeito. Is this a recognition that it is still too early to say that the election for the House of Councilors in approximately two months' time will focus on the issue of revision of the Constitution and Article 96 in particular?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The issue of Article 96 is one that has not yet reached the stage of having acquired sufficient public understanding and I am fully aware that there are those who remain cautious about its revision. We also understand the position of the New Komeito. The Government seeks to advance sincere discussions among all parties and parliamentary groups. The Liberal Democratic Party included the issue of revision of the Constitution in our pledges at the time of the general election last year and we will continue to make efforts to ensure that our thinking and concepts are accurately communicated.

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