Thursday, August 1, 2013 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
- Prime Minister's plan to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki prefectures
- A reception to offer words of encouragement to the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to visit Hiroshima Prefecture on August 5 and 6, where he will attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. On August 9 the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Nagasaki Prefecture, where he will attend the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony.
Today, from 6:15pm to 7:30pm, Prime Minister Abe will hold a reception to offer words of encouragement to the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) at the Prime Minister's Office. The reception will be attended by Diet members of Diet associations engaged in JOCV-related activities, and representatives of JOCV members who have returned from their overseas postings in developing countries will provide reports about their activities. Almost 100 JOCV members who have returned to Japan will attend the meeting, which will provide an opportunity to hear their opinions and offer encouragement and recognition for their efforts as well as those of other people involved in the JOCV program. The reception also helps to further develop the activities of JOCV.
- Deputy Prime Minister Aso's remarks on the Nazi regime
- Japan-Viet Nam relations
REPORTER: I have a question about a comment made by Deputy Prime Minister Aso. In a comment relating to amendment of the Constitution that was made during a public appearance, Deputy Prime Minister Aso referred to the Constitution of the Weimar Republic of Germany, noting that it was transformed into the Nazi Constitution almost before anyone noticed, and that this episode provides lessons that could be learned. One of the United States' foremost Jewish human rights organizations has been among those who have criticized this comment and ultimately Deputy Prime Minister Aso withdrew it. Can I ask for the view of the Government about this comment?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, my understanding is that Deputy Prime Minister Aso has withdrawn the comment he made in which he raised the example of the Nazi Constitution. Deputy Prime Minister Aso himself denounces the actions of the Nazi regime and therefore to avoid misunderstanding he withdrew the comment. The Abe administration also wishes to make it clearly understood that the Government in no way views the Nazi regime in a positive light whatsoever. In the post-war period Japan has consistently striven to build a society that thoroughly advocates peace and human rights and has contributed to the international community. I would like to make it clear that there is absolutely no change to that course.
REPORTER: Have you spoken with Deputy Prime Minister Aso concerning this matter?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I spoke with the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday. I suggested to him that the use of such an example had caused misunderstanding and the Deputy Prime Minister indicated to me that his intention had been different to the outcome and that he wished to withdraw the comment.
REPORTER: Did you hear his version of the matter only or did you caution him also?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It was a telephone conversation.
REPORTER: So you asked about the matter?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than asking about the matter, I suggested to the Deputy Prime Minister that his comments had caused misunderstanding.
REPORTER: Was it you who telephoned the Deputy Prime Minister?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes.
REPORTER: Did you suggest that he withdraw the comment?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, I noted that it had caused misunderstanding and Deputy Prime Minister Aso stated that the way the comment had been taken was not how he intended at all and in which case he would withdraw the comment.
REPORTER: With regard to the comment by Deputy Prime Minister Aso on the subject of amendment to the Constitution, Prime Minister Abe provided respectful explanations to each country on his recent visit to Southeast Asia, concerning amendment of the Constitution and discussions on the right to collective self-defense. Given this situation, what do you think about a person in the position of Deputy Prime Minister making such comments that could be misconstrued in this way?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that the Deputy Prime Minister himself decided to withdraw the comment, because raising the Nazi regime as an example gave rise to misunderstanding.
REPORTER: I understand that the comment has been withdrawn, but it had already been said and parts of it have therefore been reported around the world. The comment has subsequently drawn criticism from Jewish human rights groups and the Chinese and Republic of Korea media, among others. What do you think of the negative image this comment has given of the Government of Japan?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already stated, the Abe Cabinet in no way views the Nazi regime in a positive light whatsoever. In addition, in the post-war period Japan has consistently striven to build a society that thoroughly advocates peace and human rights and has contributed to the international community. There is absolutely no change to this course that Japan has followed. This is what I have stated on behalf of the Government.
REPORTER: I believe that Prime Minister Abe has recently held telephone talks with Prime Minister Dung of Viet Nam. Could you tell us the content of what was discussed? Did the Prime Minister request cooperation towards the resolution of the abduction issue?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe recently received a telephone call from Prime Minister Dung of Viet Nam and a Japan-Viet Nam telephone summit meeting was held. As I did not participate in the telephone summit meeting I am not aware of the details of what was said, but I have received a report that Prime Minister Dung offered his congratulations on the victory in the recent House of Councillors election. He also stated that in this year in which Japan and Viet Nam mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, Viet Nam seeks to further develop bilateral ties with Japan and engage in further cooperation in ASEAN-related matters. Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue Furuya was visiting Viet Nam until yesterday, and I have received a report that Prime Minister Dung expressed his understanding for Japan's stance on the abduction issue and that he stated that Viet Nam would seek to provide cooperation, including the sharing of information.