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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issues related to the party's party leaders' debate
  • The issues related to National Security Council
  • The Diet reform
  • The issues related to the physical condition of Minister Amari

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the party leaders' debate at the Diet. The discussion at the party leaders' debate today was mainly on the special intelligence protection bill. While I think Mr. Ishihara may have gone slightly off on a tangent, Mr. Banri Kaieda and Mr. Yoshimi Watanabe both argued that there should be more thorough deliberation on the special intelligence protection bill. I think the opinion was frequently raised that, before voting for or against the bill, there should be more thorough deliberation, even if that meant extending the Diet session by several days. What is your frank opinion regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: During the party leaders' debate, I believe the leaders made statements based on their respective positions. In particular, I thought Mr. Ishihara remained true to his character. With regard to the current session of the Diet, as Prime Minister Abe explained a short while ago in his response, during the discussions at the House of Representatives a number of problems came to light. Following this, various reviews have been conducted, including the making of revisions to the bill, and we are nearing the end of the deliberations. We would like to continue to work on the bill while carrying out careful deliberations.

REPORTER: On the other hand, I believe considerable time was also spent on the issue of the third-party organization and its checking function which was raised again during today's party leaders' debate mainly by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). In his response today, the Prime Minister mentioned new terms such as "the Committee for Protection and Oversight," so it seems that at this stage, measures for addressing these aspects are finally beginning to take shape. In light of this, I think one idea is to have further discussion on these aspects with opposition parties, rather than voting on the bill tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. What are your thoughts in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe, as the Prime Minister stated a short while ago, for example, the proposal to create operation guidelines has been discussed a number of times during the committee meetings to date. Therefore, my view is that we are nearing the end of the deliberations.

REPORTER: Is your understanding that there have now been sufficient discussions on the bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, extensive discussions have taken place. With regard to the Prime Minister mentioning "the Consultative Committee for the Protection and Information", the idea of establishing operation guidelines for the removal of special intelligence designations and the evaluation of the appropriateness of the designations, is something that has long been discussed. I view that these matters have been extensively discussed during the Committee meetings.

REPORTER: If I may confirm one last point which also came up briefly during the party leaders' debate. Is my understanding correct that if the bill is passed, Minister Masako Mori will remain as the minister in charge after the passage of the bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister himself has made this clear. He has consistently stated that Minister Mori will be the minister in charge until the legislation enters into effect. Minister Mori has been responding to questions throughout the Diet deliberations on the bill based on that recognition. While the legislation is to enter into effect within two years of its passage, Minister Mori will be responsible for the various statements she gave at the Diet setting a timeframe of around one year. The Prime Minister has stated consistently that it will be under Minister Mori's leadership that the details, including the issue of the third-party organization, will be finalized with a view to enacting the legislation.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC was established today, and I understand that its first meeting will be held later today. What themes will be on the agenda of today's first meeting? Also, can you please once again explain how things will change from the past as a result of the establishment of the NSC?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To begin with, the first meeting of the NSC will be held today. It is scheduled to be a 40-minute meeting from 4:30 pm to 5:10 pm. During this four ministers' meeting, a frank exchange of views will take place on such matters as the National Security Strategy (NSS), China's recent establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), and North Korea. At the same time, as this will be the first meeting, we will confirm the rules, so to speak. These are the kinds of things we would like to accomplish today.

REPORTER: Could you please elaborate on the significance of the NSC or what will change as a result of its establishment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated to date, the NSC will meet about once every two weeks. With regard to diplomacy and defense, indeed, the fundamental matters of security; the four ministers will share the matters and unify the basic policy and vision. In this context, it is critically important that the NSC fulfills its function as a control tower. Previously, this role had been played by the nine ministers' meeting. In light of this, I think it is extremely significant that the NSC will meet about once every two weeks and fulfill a core role in security matters.

REPORTER: I have one more question. I believe one of the obstacles to date which has been identified was the fact that information was compiled based on a vertically-segmented system of ministries and agencies. How will this be resolved? In particular, even if a secretariat called the National Security Bureau is established in the future, its staff will come from the various ministries and agencies. In this context, can you truly ensure to fully consolidate the information beyond interests of each ministry and agency? How is this guaranteed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe there is no question that this can be done. I gather that the National Security Bureau, the secretariat, will be launched early next year. At the Diet, we have explained that the secretariat will be comprised of around 60 people. The National Security Bureau will be able to request information, and the information requested in this way must be submitted to the Bureau. It is so designed legally. As such, compared to the previous system, the obstacles of vertical segmentation are eliminated, and the requested information will be consolidated at the National Security Bureau. The consolidated information will then be analyzed by the Bureau, and the results will be complied together for the policies to be designed, devised, and coordinated in a comprehensive manner based on the variety of information. Therefore, I think there is no doubt that based on an entirely different approach from before, information can be integrated by eliminating vertical segmentation.

REPORTER: Now that the NSC has been established, next will be the NSS, which briefly came up a short while ago. Since this is the National Security Strategy, I would think it is something that should be discussed at the NSC, provided such an entity exists. Now that the NSC has been established, how do you intend to go about fine-tuning the NSS?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I imagine that naturally, the NSC will be polishing up the strategy. As such, it has been included in the agenda of today's first meeting.

REPORTER: So, naturally, this will be one of the main themes?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is, after all, the National Security Strategy. So yes, I believe it will be.

REPORTER: Earlier, you identified North Korea as one of the items on the agenda. Is it correct to think that the topic of the dismissal of Jang Song-taek and so on, which also came up during this morning's press conference, is also included in the agenda?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A short while ago today, officials engaged in intelligence matters held a meeting, and I believe such topics will be included in the agenda.

REPORTER: With regard to the topic of vertical segmentation, you noted earlier that the National Security Bureau will be able to request information. If, for example, it becomes known that information had not been submitted, will there be any punishment or penalties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, there are no penalties stipulated in the law. However, the law is designed so that if information is requested, this information must be provided. As these are public employees, I believe they will fully adhere to the request.

REPORTER: Are the members of today's meeting just the four ministers?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think Deputy Prime Minister Aso will also be attending. The Deputy Prime Minister is the first in line for serving as the acting Prime Minister, so in this sense, naturally, Deputy Prime Minister Aso will be joining the four ministers' meeting.


REPORTER: I have a related question. In terms of the Diet reform currently being discussed, proposals have been raised, for example, to decrease the Prime Minister's attendance of Committee meetings and increase party leaders' debates instead, so as to increase the Prime Minister's overseas visits and other engagements. Based on today's party leaders' debate, do you consider that these debates could serve as an alternative to attending Committee meetings?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is something that will be decided at the Diet. However, in 11 months of the Abe administration, I also reaffirmed the importance of summit diplomacy through Japan's successful bid to host the Olympic Games and the array of economic policies. In this context, I hope Diet reform will steadily take place. As I stated before, in Japan, the Prime Minister is obliged to attend the Diet for more than 120 days. However, in the rest of the world,  in the United Kingdom, indeed the birthplace of the parliamentary system of government, it is around 30 days or so. And in Germany, the country with the most stable economy within the European Union, it is 11 days. So taking the overall situation into account as well, I believe Diet reform is necessary. This is not the view of our party alone. During its time in power, the DPJ Government also said that Diet reform was necessary. Everyone has been thinking this. Furthermore, despite being an opposition party, the Japan Restoration Party has also expressed its intention to steadily implement Diet reform. And now that proposals have been made, I therefore hope that Diet reform takes shape based on thorough discussions.


REPORTER: Regarding the matter of Jang Song-taek of North Korea, which was briefly touched upon moments ago, about one full day has passed since the information of his dismissal came to light. Has the Japanese Government been able to get a hold of some information, or is it still basically unconfirmed information? Could you tell us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has obtained a reasonable amount of information. However, due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from responding to your question.

REPORTER: Regarding Minister Amari, have you received any notification of his test results or any other information? Also, does it remain unchanged that economic measures will be decided at tomorrow's extraordinary Cabinet meeting, as soon as the consent of the ruling parties is obtained?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Well, first, with regard to Minister Amari, I have been informed that he will be hospitalized until tomorrow. This remains unchanged. We are not aware as to when the results will be ready. However, we understand that Minister Amari will be hospitalized until tomorrow. As I stated a short while ago, I think whether or not Minister Amari will go to Singapore will be, in principle, decided after the test results have come out. As it is possible that Minister Amari may not be able to go, the Government is currently making arrangements for Senior Vice Minister Nishimura to go to Singapore.


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