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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, July 25, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Air and maritime activities by China around the East China Sea
  • The new U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  • Yasukuni shrine

REPORTER: I have a question with regard to two matters, both of which took place yesterday. Firstly, a Chinese military aircraft has passed through the airspace above the international waters between the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima Island for the first time. Secondly, vessels of the China Coast Guard have been confirmed in the contiguous zone off the coast of the Senkaku Islands for the first time. I understand that a mid-term report of the National Defense Program Guidelines will be released. These incidents may be interpreted as a sign of China's increased expansion in maritime activities. What is the analysis of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the first matter concerning the aircraft, the Ministry of Defense released this information based on the judgment that it was an unusual case. The Government will continue to take rigorous measures from the standpoint of protecting Japan's territorial land, waters, and airspace in the East China Sea, including the area around the Senkaku Islands. And with regard to the official vessels, it is true that they were navigating within the contiguous zone. In any case, the relevant ministries and agencies will exert all possible efforts for patrolling the area, while gathering and collecting information.

REPORTER: The Ministry of National Defense of China has released a statement saying that the Chinese aircraft in question flew over international waters and that the flyover was not targeted in particular at any specific country. What is Japan's reaction to this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Indeed, the aircraft flew over international waters. The Japanese Government too believes that there is no problem based on international law, and therefore, did not lodge any particular protests. However, yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan did express to the Chinese Government that Japan is treating this matter with great interest.

REPORTER: Regarding the Ambassador of the U.S. to Japan, it has been formally announced that Ms. Caroline Kennedy will become the Ambassador. What does the Japanese Government think about this personnel decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe this matter also came up during a press conference some time ago, and as I mentioned then, Japan wishes to express that it welcomes the fact that the U.S. Government has finally made a formal nomination of Ms. Caroline Kennedy as the new U.S. Ambassador to Japan. We understand that President Obama has profound trust in Ms. Caroline Kennedy, and we, the Government of Japan, highly commend this nomination, which indicates the Obama administration's stance of attaching importance to the Japan-U.S. alliance. As I have stated here from before, many Japanese people feel a great affinity towards the late President Kennedy. We look forward to Ms. Caroline Kennedy's swift assumption to office as Ambassador to Japan and to her active engagement in Japan. The Japanese Government will work to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, while closely coordinating and cooperating with new Ambassador-elect Kennedy.

REPORTER: Some people have raised concerns that Ms. Kennedy has little experience in diplomatic affairs or that she has had quite limited involvement with respect to Japan. What is the Government's view regarding these concerns which have been pointed out?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that Ms. Kennedy has a very close relationship with President Obama. Indeed, whether or not an Ambassador is able to communicate matters directly to the President will play a critical role. In this regard, we welcome the nomination.

REPORTER: With the Ambassador changing to Ms. Kennedy, I believe Mr. Roos will then be leaving his post. Over these last several years, while the administration was led by the Democratic Party of Japan for much of the time that Mr. Roos was Ambassador, I believe you, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, had various opportunities to interact with Mr. Roos. What kind of a role do you think Mr. Roos served as Ambassador?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Roos has a deep understanding of Japan, and I am very grateful that the Ambassador worked persistently and sincerely to maintain the partnership between the U.S. and Japan.

REPORTER: I believe Mr. Roos has also gone to Okinawa.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe Mr. Roos was an extraordinary Ambassador who made tremendous efforts, indeed taking initiative, including with regard to the abduction issue and going onsite, and conveying Japan's views to the U.S. as candidly as possible.

REPORTER: According to some reports, Prime Minister Abe has decided to forgo paying a visit to Yasukuni Shrine on the day which commemorates the end of the war. Can you please confirm the facts if you are aware of them?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that no matter what country you are from, we all share a desire to clasp our hands together to pray for the repose of the souls of those who sacrificed their precious lives in battle for their country and express our respects. On the other hand, it is the basic stance of the Abe Cabinet that the Government will refrain from commenting on whether or not the Prime Minister or other ministers will visit Yasukuni Shrine in their capacity as private citizens.

REPORTER: Regarding the earlier topic of the Chinese military aircraft, the Prime Minister also stated this morning that this was an "unusual case." When you say "unusual," what exactly was unusual?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This was the first time that an aircraft has passed between the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima Island, flying a long distance past the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean. I believe it was in regard to this that the Prime Minister used the term "unusual."


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