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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, May 9, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • Prime Minister's plan to visit Miyagi Prefecture

I would like to speak on the Prime Minister's schedule. On May 12, the Prime Minister is planning to visit earthquake-affected areas in Miyagi Prefecture to inspect the current state of reconstruction. More specifically, the Prime Minister will inspect the reconstruction projects in areas that suffered catastrophic tsunami damage in Onagawa Town and Higashimatsushima. The Prime Minister is also planning to visit the accommodation village that was built to revitalize Onagawa Town and which also addresses the issue of insufficient accommodation for construction workers. Furthermore, in Sendai City the Prime Minister will visit a company that is proactively converting their business into a sixth-sector industry using farm land that is in the process of being desalinated. There the Prime Minister will hear from young farmers. Additionally the Prime Minister will visit Matsushima Air Base of the Air Self-Defense Force in order to meet and encourage Self-Defense Force units including Blue Impulse, who returned to the base in March.


  • Constitutional revision
  • The report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service on Japan-U.S. Relations
  • The understanding of history
  • The Japan-U.S. Cyber Dialogue

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the Constitution. Today the Deliberative Council on the Constitution of the House of Representatives held the first debate on Article 96. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan Restoration Party and Your Party took a pro-revision stance as expected, while New Komeito took a more hesitant line. Could you share with us the Government's view of the debate and once again tell us the stance of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Constitutional revision is a challenge that the LDP has been working on since the foundation of the party, and in fact, during the lead up to last year's general election, we included constitutional revision in our public pledges. Although we have explained this in the Diet, we would like to first work on the revision of Article 96. I believe that as we approach the next House of Councillors election we will once again put forward constitutional revision as a part of the party's public pledges, just as we did for the House of Representatives election. We understand that we have yet to gain sufficient public understanding for the revision of Article 96, and as such we are fully aware that many people are wary of change and, as the Prime Minister has also said, we can understand the stance taken by New Komeito. We will continue to advance discussions on this issue in good faith with each party and each parliamentary group so as to effectively communicate the opinions of our party.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service on Japan-U.S. relations. It has been revealed that the report included a description of Prime Minister Abe as "a strong nationalist." In relation to Prime Minister Abe's actions regarding the understanding of history, the report also stated that his actions "could upset regional relations in ways that hurt U.S. interests." Could you tell us how the Government views this report and also how the Government is planning to respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you may all know, I believe that this report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service is not representative of the official views of Congress. I understand that the purpose of the report is to give an update of the situation on Japan-U.S. relations. I understand that the recent report makes reference to comments and actions in relation to historical issues; however I would like to refrain from making any comments on behalf of the Government concerning the details of the report.

REPORTER: I understand, but I would still like to ask another question. The same report says in addition to the Prime Minister's understanding of history, "visits to the Yasukuni Shrine...will be closely monitored by Japan's neighbors as well as the United States." I understand that the Government has consistently said that visits to the Yasukuni Shrine have no influence on foreign diplomacy, however following this report and other reactions, what are the Government's thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have said this on a number of occasions but the Government believes that expressing respect for those who sacrificed their lives for the nation is a matter of the heart and concerns freedom of religion, and the Government can therefore not permit or deny visitation of the Yasukuni Shrine. I believe that this stance of Japan and our Government will not change in any way. As for the understanding of history, as I have stated on numerous occasions during these press conferences, the Abe Cabinet shares the views of the previous Cabinets, which acknowledge that Japan in the past caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Furthermore, we are determined to make continued efforts in strengthening relationships with our neighbors, including the Republic of Korea and China, while proactively contributing to the peace and prosperity of the region. This stance has not changed at all. Therefore, I believe that we must continue to seek understanding for our position and continue to explain the stance of Japan through diplomatic means.

REPORTER: During this morning's press conference, in relation to the understanding of history you said, "while fully recognizing [Japan's] past" and "based on [Japan's] deep remorse." In the Murayama Statement the phrase "deep remorse" is also used, so I am right to understand that these are the same?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Well, personally I have exactly the same feeling. I wasn't actually reading out the exact words of the statement.


REPORTER: I would like to ask another question regarding the Congressional report. I understand that the report is not representative of the official view of the U.S. Government, but should we really be brushing aside the fact that the Congressional report of another country described our Prime Minister as a nationalist? Am I right to believe that the Government recognizes this as a misunderstanding caused by a lack of communication, or does the Government acknowledge that this is an accurate analysis?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think that it must be a misunderstanding. In relation to the understanding of history, as I have said on a number of occasions, Japan has worked for peace and prosperity throughout the last 66 years following the end of the last war. Therefore, I actually believe that because of this, they will eventually come to understand Japan's perspective.

REPORTER: You just said that it is a misunderstanding, but in fact Prime Minister Abe is very often described as a nationalist by other nations including China and the Republic of Korea. Why do you believe that there has been this misunderstanding in many countries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that he is being falsely labeled as a nationalist. I understand that different countries have their own national interests, but the stance of Japan is as I have always said and I believe that different countries are making statements for their own interests.


REPORTER: The first meeting of the Japan-U.S. Cyber Dialogue is being held today and tomorrow. Could you share with us the Government's stance and the level of importance it gives to the international rule-making for cyberspace?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This first meeting is being held as per the agreement made during the recent summit meeting. The Government believes that ensuring security and strengthening international rule-making initiatives for cyberspace is extremely important in the interests of both security and the economy. The Government believes that it is vital that we work together with the U.S., our ally, to advance cyber security in order to improve Japan's cyber security. It is our hope that through this dialogue we will be able to develop a shared understanding of the issue and strengthen cooperation between Japan and the U.S. in the area of developing practical cyber security countermeasures, including the protection of critical infrastructure and the development of international rule-making.


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