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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • The overview of the Cabinet meeting
  • A meeting of the Security Council
  • A meeting of the National Security Council (NSC)

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved nine measures for submission to the Diet as well as cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Mori made a statement concerning the implementation of Disabled Persons' Week FY2013.

In ministerial discussions, Minister Yamamoto made a statement concerning the promotion of initiatives related to domestic and overseas communication concerning territory and sovereignty.

The final Security Council Meeting was held prior to today's Cabinet meeting. The Council has been meeting throughout the last 27 years, since 1986. The first topics of discussion were the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Program Guidelines. The Government will take the discussions of the Advisory Panel on National Security and Defense Capabilities into consideration and continue to formulate the strategy and guidelines, led by the new National Security Council (NSC), which is scheduled to be launched tomorrow.  Officials of the Cabinet Secretariat then provided Cabinet members who are expected to attend the meeting with explanations of the administrative procedures for the management of the NSC, which will be established tomorrow, in order to gain a shared understanding among relevant Cabinet members prior to the launch. In this regard, the Prime Minister instructed all Cabinet members to demonstrate political leadership from each of their respective positions and to fully contribute to the promotion of the national security policies that the Government is striving with its utmost effort, centered on the NSC.


  • The issues related to National Security Council
  • The issues related to the talks between Prime Minister Abe and U.S. Vice President Biden
  • The issues related to the Air Defense Identification Zone established by China
  • The progress and challenges of reconstruction and recovery after Great East Japan Earthquake
  • The issues related to the blog entry by Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Ishiba
  • The issues related to the new island that emerged in the sea off the Ogasawara Islands
  • The issues related to air pollution in Shanghai including PM2.5

REPORTER: As you mentioned earlier, the NSC will be officially launched tomorrow. What topics do you believe will be discussed tomorrow?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It will be the first meeting, so I believe that council members will mainly engage in discussion on basic matters.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a related topic. Will the establishment of the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) by China be one of the main topics of tomorrow's meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Tomorrow will be the very first meeting of Japan's NSC, which addresses just such national security issues. So I believe various issues related to national security will be raised.

REPORTER: Today, the Prime Minister Abe and U.S. Vice President Biden will hold talks. Could you tell us what topics the Prime Minister and U.S. Vice President will be discussing given that there are a number of issues of concern shared by Japan and the U.S.? Could you also share with us your expectations for today's meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government will use the Vice President's visit to Japan as an opportunity to reaffirm that the two countries will strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance in light of the recent national security environment facing Japan, and that Japan and the U.S. will work in close coordination and cooperation when handling matters concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which are nearing conclusion.

REPORTER: Will they be discussing issues such as the ADIZ and the relocation of Futenma Air Station as well?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I must refrain from speculating on the topics of discussion. However, I believe that Japan and the U.S. will reaffirm that China's establishment of an ADIZ is a dangerous act that unilaterally changes the status quo in the region, and that both countries will work in close cooperation based on this view.

REPORTER: Vice President Biden will visit China after visiting Japan. What do you expect him to approach China in relation to the issue of the ADIZ?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and the U.S. have cooperated closely since China established its ADIZ. We have both affirmed that this is a dangerous act that unilaterally changes the status quo in the region, and, as such, cannot be tolerated by either the U.S. or Japan. Furthermore, today, we will first reaffirm Japan's stance on a number of issues, including, of course, the matter of China's ADIZ. I believe that the Vice President will bear these discussions in mind when he then visits China.

REPORTER: In relation to the ADIZ, I understand that Japan is urging China to revoke its ADIZ. Will both the Japanese and U.S. Governments today agree on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In principle, Japan and the U.S. have worked closely together to address this issue since China established the ADIZ, and I believe that both countries share the view that the establishment of the ADIZ by China is unacceptable.

REPORTER: The fact is that, in relation to this issue, currently there have been some differences in the responses of the two countries, particularly those concerning the submission of flight plans by private carriers. The Government may not be able to have direct involvement in this, but will the Prime Minister and U.S. Vice President be exchanging views or developing mutual understanding on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have no knowledge of any plans to discuss that topic. However, the U.S. shares the stance that the Chinese ADIZ is unacceptable. We have a clear confirmation on this.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a related topic. The U.S. has developed a broad strategy to rebalance from the Middle East toward Asia. However, when looking more carefully at the moves of the U.S., it appears that since Secretary of State John Kerry assumed his current position, U.S. interests remain heavily focused on Middle Eastern issues, which has been made evident by the U.S. involvement in the Syrian issue and more recently in Iran, as well as peacebuilding in Palestine. Do you have any thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not have anything to say as this is a matter concerning the U.S. However, as far as Japan-U.S. relations are concerned, first of all, the Meeting of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2 Meeting) was held in Japan with both the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense in attendance for the first time. In addition, the U.S. Vice President arrived in Japan yesterday. In light of all this, I believe that U.S.-Japan relations have become exceedingly strong. It also appears to me that this ties into the U.S. decision to shift its focus to Asia.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on the same topic. I believe that during today's meeting with the U.S. Vice President, the main topics of discussion will be the TPP, the Futenma Air Station and the ADIZ. Of these three topics, do you have a specific order of priority or importance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: They are all extremely important issues for Japan. I would think that various issues will be discussed, beginning with the reestablishment of Japan-U.S. relations and strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

REPORTER: Was the issue of the ADIZ discussed during this morning's Security Council meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The contents of the meeting are as I reported earlier and I would like to refrain from going into the individual specifics.

REPORTER: Some media outlets reported this morning that the Prime Minister sent a letter to President Obama stating that Japan does not and will not accept the ADIZ established by China. Could you tell us if this is the case?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I must refrain from commenting on communications between the two leaders.

REPORTER: Tomorrow marks the 1,000th day since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Could you share with us your thoughts on the progress of reconstruction and recovery, and once again explain what challenges you believe we face?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Abe administration has attached the utmost importance to reconstruction and recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, placing it among the three pillars of the Abe Cabinet. Indeed, since the change in government, our administration has enhanced the capabilities of the Reconstruction Agency and has devoted its utmost efforts toward reconstruction and recovery. In so doing, we have for instance increased the reconstruction budget from 19 trillion yen to 25 trillion yen and also, as I said earlier, we have developed a dual headquarter system for the Reconstruction Agency, with headquarters in both Tokyo and Fukushima, to ensure that we continue to take a hands-on approach in the affected areas. We have also held subject specific task force meetings involving the Minister for Reconstruction and the concerned Director Generals in our efforts to overcome the vertically segmented administrative structure. Since the inauguration of the Government, we have worked at full capacity for accelerating the reconstruction of Fukushima. More specifically, the Government is developing and disclosing the plans and progress of the rebuilding of housing through, for instance, the work schedules for housing reconstruction. Additionally, initiatives such as relocations to higher ground and the development of public housing for disaster victims have commenced steadily, and some of which have been completed. We have also recently taken measures to simplify and shorten the procedures required for land acquisition in order to further accelerate project progression. Moreover, as for reconstruction in Fukushima Prefecture, the Government has completed the revision of the evacuation area and we have now entered a new phase where we will be preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders and the speedy return of residents. Ultimately, we will do everything with our utmost efforts for reconstruction, led by our belief that without the recovery and reconstruction of the disaster areas, there can be no revival of Japan. In addition, the ruling parties recently made a number of recommendations in relation to the reconstruction. The Government will work through this challenge to see reconstruction completed as soon as possible while incorporating these recommendations. We will do everything we can towards the creation of a new Tohoku, which will consequently become a model for the rest of Japan.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the blog entry made by Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Ishiba. Yesterday, the Secretary-Generals and secretariat heads of seven opposition parties strongly protested the blog entry of Secretary-General Ishiba in which he likened the public demonstrations against the special intelligence protection bill to terrorism. They issued a joint statement demanding more careful deliberation on the bill. As such, criticism of the Secretary-General's blog entry continues to grow stronger. Could you share with us how you view this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as a representative of the Government, I must refrain from commenting on each and every comment made by senior officials of the ruling party. However, what I can say is that I believe that Secretary-General Ishiba yesterday attempted to correct the misunderstanding and retracted his statements, while also sincerely communicating what he had originally intended to say. Therefore, I do not think that this incident will affect future deliberations.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the new island that has emerged in the sea off the Ogasawara Islands. By tomorrow, approximately two weeks will have passed since the eruption that gave birth to this island and apparently the land mass is expanding. Do you have any plans to give the island an official name?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think, in fact, that we must quickly take action to ensure that the island does not become submerged and that it becomes a territory of Japan.

REPORTER: Do you have any specific timeframe in mind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Once the volcanic activity has subsided, we will take measures to secure the island's existence.

REPORTER: The air pollution index figures in Shanghai, including those for PM2.5 levels, have reached an all-time worst. Could you share with us any potential impact this may have on Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the situation has become extremely bad. In light of this, we have made efforts to provide information appropriately to Japanese nationals residing in China by, for instance holding seminars in Beijing and other locations. We will continue to take firm responses as required to this issue. At the same time, we have yet to confirm any notable increases in PM2.5 levels here in Japan. We will be sure to continue to keep a close eye on the situation. Additionally, discussions were held on this issue in a recent experts' meeting on PM2.5. Consequently, the Government has made recommendations to local municipalities for improving their initiatives for raising public awareness on PM2.5. The Government will strengthen cooperation with local municipalities and address the issue with a particular focus on the period following the New Year, when PM2.5 levels are expected to spike.

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