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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, June 13, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Reconstruction Agency official's inappropriate comments on Twitter
  • A prospected Japan-U.S. summit meeting
  • The Nikkei Stock Average
  • Live ammunition drills in Hokkaido by U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa
  • The Shukan Shicho's article regarding the imperial succession system
  • Prime Minister's comments on Facebook regarding a former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

REPORTER: An official from the Reconstruction Agency has repeatedly made inappropriate comments on Twitter. What is your view on this matter? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, I saw this in the newspapers today. The facts are now being confirmed. Based on the findings, we will respond to this appropriately. So right now, the facts are being confirmed, and based on the findings, an appropriate response will be taken.

REPORTER: What kind of a punishment do you have in mind for the official, provided that this will depend on the facts which will come to light?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the Minister for Reconstruction will be determining the appropriate punishment.

REPORTER: Sorry, another related question. Moving forward, if there is a punishment, in the case of public servants, will the punishment for making inappropriate comments on Twitter be based on a law of some kind?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The conduct that national public servants must uphold is set forth in the National Public Service Act. Therefore, there might be  a number of infringements of the Act. In any case, the facts related to this are now being investigated.

REPORTER: According to some media reports, telephone talks between the leaders of Japan and the U.S. will be conducted during this morning. Can you please verify the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have been informed that preparations are underway as such.

REPORTER: What will they be discussing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the talks will concern the recent summit meeting between the U.S. and China. After the talks are over, I will report about them to you.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Prime Minister cut short another engagement to return here. That is to say, is my understanding correct that these telephone talks, these talks with Mr. Obama, were not notified in advance but were scheduled on short notice?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From the time of the U.S.-China summit meeting, telephone talks between the Japanese and U.S. leaders were scheduled to take place after some time had passed since the summit meeting. Therefore, I believe it is not short notice.

REPORTER: I believe the Prime Minister will be seeing President Obama at the G8 from this weekend through next week. Does the fact that the telephone talks are being held before then, at this timing, mean that there was an urgent situation of some kind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe it is a reflection of U.S. considerations towards its ally Japan.

REPORTER: Regarding stock prices, the Nikkei Stock Average has plunged by more than 700 points and has been fluctuating up and down. What is the Government's analysis?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the stock prices on the Nikkei Stock Average have fallen. However, as I always state, commenting on these movements will cause unnecessary confusion to the market, and therefore, I would like to refrain from commenting.

Meanwhile, with regard to the Japanese economy, for example, the growth rate for the January-March quarter was 4.1%, and the economy is making a steady recovery. In this regard, I believe it is important to remain calm in looking at the stock market movements.

As to the Government, while closely monitoring the movements of the financial capital markets and their impact, we will continue to implement the Growth Strategy presented yesterday and the three prongs or "arrows" in an integrated manner. I believe it is important that through such measures, we move steadily and quickly to overcome deflation at an early date and achieve private sector-led economic growth.

And in actuality, the real economy and leading indicators are all indicating an upward trend. The bottom line is that we will pursue these measures with confidence in our ability to manage the economy.


REPORTER: Although I asked about this yesterday, have you received any notification from the U.S. forces regarding the cause of the incident of the wayward shell at the Yausubetsu Training Area which occurred in November, or rather, the 11th?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding the landing of the shell outside of the Yausubetsu Training Area in Hokkaido, the U.S. forces identified that human errors which were made during the launch were the causes. The U.S. forces notified the Hokkaido Defense Bureau that measures are being taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, including the removal of the officers who caused the incident from their posts. This is what we have been informed. I understand that this is being explained now by the Ministry of Defense to the relevant municipalities, to the four towns and villages was it, that the road (which runs through the Yausubetsu Training Area) stretches across.   

REPORTER: You stated that as the incident was caused by human errors, measures will be taken to prevent its recurrence. What will be the Government's response going forward? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: So as I said, we have just received such notification, and we will ensure that thorough responses are taken to prevent a recurrence under the leadership of the Ministry of Defense.   

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding a weekly magazine article. The Shukan Shincho, which went on sale today, reports that the Grand Steward of the Imperial Household Agency met with the Prime Minister on February 1 of this year, of which there is a record in the Prime Minister's activities, and on this occasion, requested the Prime Minister and you [the Chief Cabinet Secretary] to revise the imperial succession system set forth in the Imperial House Act. Can you please verify the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would be the person that has jurisdiction over this, and I have absolutely no awareness of this. Therefore, I would like to make clear that the article is unfounded.

Also, to prior questions which were received, our staff responded clearly in writing to the editorial department of Shukan Shincho that there is absolutely no such factual basis. Despite this, this unfounded article was published. Imperial succession is a matter of critical importance, and the article could grossly mislead the people of Japan. Therefore, this is extremely deplorable, and we would like to strongly protest.

Specifically, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Imperial Household Agency in a joint statement will strongly protest to Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd., and at the same time, seek the publication of an article for correction.

REPORTER: My question concerns the Prime Minister's condemnation of former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Hitoshi Tanaka on Facebook. With regard to the exchanges which took place at the time (2002) over the abductees in North Korea, the Prime Minister criticized that Mr. Tanaka made a decisive mistake in his judgment as a diplomat. I believe it is alright to point out a conflict of opinion or a difference in understanding. However, after making this comment, the Prime Minister goes on to state that perhaps the problem goes beyond that, which could be viewed as denigrating Mr. Tanaka's character or ability. I would think it is problematic for a Prime Minister to make such posts. What is your view on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I too was surprised when I saw the content of the article [of Mr. Tanaka]. However, I have repeatedly stated to you Japan's position on the understanding of history, Japan-China relations, and policy on North Korea. We have been explaining Japan's position to the international community, including both China and the Republic of Korea, through diplomatic channels. I believe Mr. Tanaka's comment about an increasingly rightward shift in Japan has absolutely no validity.

Furthermore, regarding your statement that the Prime Minister made a criticism on Facebook, the Prime Minister has constantly been working hard on the abduction issue with very strong determination. When the Prime Minister was Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, he was able to return to Japan the abductees who are currently in Japan and their children. The Prime Minister himself wrote that in this context, when the Prime Minister was Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, there was this conflict. In this sense, there was this difference in opinion. This concerns the Prime Minister's own experience, and I believe he made the statement in this context.


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