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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato

  • The overview of the Cabinet meeting

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: On behalf of Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga who has Diet engagements, I will be giving the press conference. First, I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 16 general and other measures, draft bills, a cabinet order, and personnel decisions.


  • The issue related to wiretapping allegation of the U.S. NSA
  • Japan-Korea relations
  • House of Councillors member Antonio Inoki's visit to North Korea
  • The issue related to decontamination, decommissioning, and contaminated water measures
  • The issue related to the online sale of pharmaceutical products
  • The issue related to NSC

REPORTER: The New York Times has reported that Japan is included among the countries targeted in the intelligence gathering activities of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). It has been reported that Japan, a U.S. ally, is included in the list of NSA target areas for intelligence gathering. What is your understanding of the facts?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I am aware that this was reported. However, in view of our relationship with the U.S., I would like to refrain from stating any opinions that are based on what has been reported.

With regard to the issue of the U.S. NSA's collection of communications records, Japan and the U.S. have maintained communication as appropriate. Furthermore, given the present circumstances, we have requested that the U.S. establish even closer communication with us.

Due to the nature of this matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on how this is being done.

In the meantime, the Government will continue to take all possible measures to maintain a robust system for intelligence protection.

REPORTER: You said that Japan is maintaining communication with the U.S. However, at least with regard to Germany and other countries, the U.S. Government has partially admitted to wiretapping. What is your reaction to the fact that the U.S. is spying on its friends and allies like Japan to this extent?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: With regard to this issue, including the point you have just raised, I believe, as I stated moments ago, that it is necessary to maintain full communication with the U.S., and that this matter should be dealt with accordingly.

REPORTER: In an interview with the U.K.'s BBC, the President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) commented that there is no meaning or purpose to holding a summit meeting with Japan, unless it modifies its position on a number of issues, including the comfort women issue. How does Japan intend to refute the comments to such a counterpart?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I am aware of the BBC interview you mentioned. To date, Japan has explained its position to the ROK whenever necessary regarding so-called issues of the past, including our understanding of history and the comfort women issue, and has conveyed our wishes to the ROK that it fully accepts our explanations. It is very regrettable that in spite of this, in this interview the ROK has once again expressed its concerns.

However, as the Prime Minister has stated to date, the relationship between Japan and the ROK is one based on shared fundamental values and interests, and the ROK is a vital neighboring country for Japan. Japan will continue to make efforts to forge cooperative ties with the ROK from a broad perspective. Prime Minister Abe has also regularly stated that a Japan-ROK summit meeting should be held precisely because a variety of issues exist between our two countries. We will continue to address the situation based on this stance.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding House of Councillors member Antonio Inoki. Yesterday, Mr. Inoki, who is visiting North Korea, launched an NPO office in Pyongyang and also held talks with Mr. Kim Yong-il. In an interview with JNN, Mr. Inoki stated clearly that tomorrow he would meet with Mr. Jang Song-taek. Has the Government confirmed these facts?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I have heard various stories through news reports. However, I believe the Government is not in a position to comment on each and every action taken by individual Diet members.

REPORTER: But nonetheless, I believe there is naturally the argument that it makes sense for the Government to undertake integrated efforts, especially in relation to the abduction issue. In this context, what are the thoughts of the Government regarding Mr. Inoki's conduct?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The Government has expressed from before its basic recognition that there can be no normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea without the resolution of the abduction issue. The Government's policy is to exert every effort to accomplish three things: ensuring the safety and the immediate return to Japan of all the abductees, obtaining a full account concerning the abductions, and realizing the handover of the perpetrators of the abductions. The Government has expressed its position, including the points I have just made, to the Diet and to others.

REPORTER: Do Mr. Inoki's actions interfere in any way with the Government's policy?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I believe a variety of information needs to be collected regarding the specifics, including about the NPO noted earlier. However, in principle, given that at this stage these are still activities undertaken by a Diet member, the Government would like to refrain from making comments.

REPORTER: Yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga indicated that the Government is leaning towards injecting the largest amount of public funds to date for decontamination, decommissioning, and contaminated water measures, among other measures. In addition, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga hinted that the Government will also consider amending relevant legislation during next year's ordinary session of the Diet. Can you please explain the current situation, that is, whether this is where the Government currently stands on the matter?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: With regard to the contaminated water measures, decontamination, and other measures, the Headquarters for Accelerating Reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake of the Liberal Democratic Party compiled a proposal last week regarding the respective roles the Government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) should assume. I understand that a similar proposal will also be compiled in the near future across the ruling parties. It is stated in the proposal with regard to decommissioning and contaminated water measures that Fukushima's reconstruction and revitalization will be accelerated. The proposal expresses the view that the Government should also fully fulfill its role in these matters. Our stance is that the Government as a whole takes these matters very seriously and will take responses accordingly. In the context of these developments, the Government will fully deal with these issues while bearing in mind the discussions among the ruling parties.

REPORTER: In that case, is my understanding correct that in terms of the role-sharing between TEPCO and the Government, the Government will assume a larger share than before?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Thorough discussions will be held on these matters, as well as the question of what specific measures are to be taken.


REPORTER: Regarding the online sale of pharmaceutical products, it has been reported that this matter will be discussed at a meeting among relevant ministers and that a decision will be made as early as this afternoon. Could you please verify whether these reports are true or not?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I am not aware of details such as whether this is happening this afternoon and so on. However, it has been previously set out in the Japan Revitalization Strategy that by around autumn, a conclusion will be reached and the necessary institutional measures will be taken. In light of this, I believe appropriate measures will be taken. I understand that under the leadership of the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Minister Amari and other relevant ministers will be coordinating specifics.

REPORTER: My question concerns the National Security Council (NSC). The bill is currently under deliberation. What is the general timeframe that the Government is aiming for the establishment of the actual secretariat structure?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Because we are, at this very time, requesting the deliberation of the bill, the necessary structure of the NSC secretariat will have to be developed while bearing in mind said deliberations.

REPORTER: Could you please tell us how far along the preparations are, including who will be the head of the secretariat?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: We are still undertaking the preparations at the moment and have not yet gone into the specifics. First, we will work to get the bill passed, and based on this, we will create a system that will facilitate its full execution and implementation.


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