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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, December 5, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • The overview of the extraordinary Cabinet meeting

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the extraordinary Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved the "Economic Measures for the Realization of a Positive Cycle of the Economy," and Prime Minister Abe and Senior Vice Minister of Cabinet Office Nishimura made statements regarding the economic measures. The objective of the economic measures is to swiftly get the Japanese economy back on a path to growth by mitigating the impact of the consumption tax rate increase taking place from April of next year and raising the potential growth of the economy. It has been decided that a package of over 5 trillion yen in scale will be secured based on a policy of making maximum use of funding sources such as the natural increases in tax revenue and surplus funds, without relying on the issuance of government bonds. As for the details, a variety of measures are involved, including competitiveness strengthening measures; measures aimed at women, young people, the elderly, and people with disabilities; initiatives for accelerating reconstruction, disaster management, and safety measures; and furthermore, initiatives to promote the translation of near-term corporate revenues and profits into wage increases; among others. The Government views these not as transient measures but truly as an investment in the future. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Aso will continue to work on the swift establishment of a supplementary budget that will make these measures more concrete, while relevant Cabinet members will steadily execute the economic measures and contribute to the realization of concrete outcomes.


  • The issues related to the special intelligence protection bill
  • The issues related to Air Defense Identification Zones
  • The issue related to construction of the breakwater in Miyagi Prefecture

REPORTER: The special intelligence protection bill was passed by the Special Committee on National Security of the House of Councillors. Could you please comment on this, including on the necessity of the bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that the security-related matters surrounding Japan are extremely severe, it truly is becoming critically important that we have high quality intelligence by sharing security intelligence with relevant countries, including our allies. It was in this context that the bill was passed by the Special Committee on National Security of the House of Councillors during this session of the Diet. I believe this is a critically important bill for steadily enhancing the very security and reassurance of the people, as well as the security of the nation itself.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Government decided to push ahead with the vote despite strong backlash from opposition parties. Could you please explain the reason for this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you are aware, decisions regarding voting are made at the Diet. Therefore, I believe the Government is not in a position to respond to this question. However, I think that the Government has strived to take a sincere approach, including providing careful explanations of the views of the Government during the deliberations of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. Furthermore, I feel that all of the major points of contention have been raised regarding the rules for protecting intelligence that contributes to ensuring the security of Japan and of the Japanese people, and we have exhausted all possible constructive discussion we could have on this topic. Moreover, revision consultations were also carried out among the Japan Restoration Party, Your Party, New Komeito, and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and the items requiring confirmation were determined. These factors were also taken into consideration.

REPORTER: On a related point, you just stated that careful explanations were provided, that exhaustive discussions were held, and that revision consultations were carried out. However, the fact is that even the opposition parties that were engaged in the revision consultations are now opposed to the bill. Furthermore, outside the Diet as well, civic demonstrations against the bill have grown in such intensity. Do you think opposition to this bill has intensified to this level because there are flaws in the bill itself, or because the Government's explanation was insufficient? Which of these two reasons do you think it is?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Differences in internal opinions exist, even within the opposition parties. However, it was, in my opinion, highly significant that even in these circumstances, revisions were at least decided upon. In light of this, a variety of concerns have currently been raised by the people. However, by offering further detailed and careful explanations to the people once the bill is passed, I am sure the people's concerns will be resolved. In fact, when the wiretapping bill was passed at the Diet, I had a Diet seat and was a member of the Committee on Judicial Affairs. I recall that opposition movement then was far more vigorous than that of today, and the opposition circles at the Diet far exceeded those we see currently. At the time, the wiretapping bill was constantly criticized as a phone-bugging bill. Nevertheless, one or two weeks after the passage of the bill, it also began to gain understanding among the people, and now there are no concerns whatsoever with regard to the bill. On this occasion as well, if we are able to securely pass the bill, coupled with mechanisms to dispel such concerns among the public, I am confident there is nothing to worry about, as I stated at the Diet.

REPORTER: If I may follow up, you stated just now that it was important to dispel concerns. However, I understand that currently one of the biggest points of contention is that the enactment of the legislation or the designation of intelligence will be done arbitrarily only within Kasumigaseki. In order to dispel concerns regarding this, what improvements do you consider are most necessary for the enactment of the legislation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not so much a matter of improving how we enact the legislation. Rather, I believe we will be able to obtain understanding by explaining the bill itself to the people.

REPORTER: There is no particular need to modify the contents?


REPORTER: Regarding this matter, during today's meeting of the Special Committee of the House of Councillors, you unveiled a policy to establish the Information Security Oversight Division  comprised of around 20 people at the Cabinet Office, which will serve as a third-party organization to verify and monitor special intelligence. On this basis, you stated that the Government would consider shifting this organization towards becoming an organization with a high degree of independence in legal terms as well. When you say an organization with a high degree of independence in legal terms as well, am I correct to understand that you have an organization along the lines of the Fair Trade Commission or the Consumer Affairs Agency in mind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, four political parties have been holding working-level consultations, as it were, since yesterday, and agreement was reached. It was in this context that I gave my response today. In this sense, the name of the office is tentative. However, our aim is to establish an organization that will conduct thorough checks to eliminate the anxieties of the people.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Regarding this shift to an organization with a high degree of independence in legal terms as well, at this point in time, what is the schedule or the rough date by which you intend to make a decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, assuming that the bill is passed, it will be one year until the legislation is enacted. Therefore, in the meantime, until the enactment of the legislation, we will firmly establish an organization of this kind comprised of around 20 people, as I recently mentioned at the Diet. We would like to make sure to create an organization that is fully independent and able to thoroughly carry out oversight.

REPORTER: If I may follow up, as for how the organization will evolve afterwards, will it depend on how the legislation is enacted?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I have pledged that we will start by launching an office-level organization comprised of around 20 people by the time that the legislation is enacted, and then elevate the organization to a bureau. This is what we hope to do.

REPORTER: The Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has informed the National Assembly that it will make a decision regarding the expansion of its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) by the end of this week. I would like to first ask if the Japanese Government is aware of the facts and so forth relating to this matter.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To begin with, at this point in time we are not aware that the ROK Government has decided on any measures. The Government of Japan would like to refrain from making comments. However, I would like to once again express concerns that measures such as China's recent establishment of the ADIZ could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region. The Japanese Government will continue to closely monitor the situation in a calm manner.

REPORTER: If the ROK expands its ADIZ further south, three countries - the ROK, China, and Japan - will have overlapping ADIZs. Do you have any opinions regarding such a situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Well, the ROK has not yet made any decision. Nevertheless, the Japanese Government will take thorough responses while closely monitoring the situation.

REPORTER: Related to this, you mentioned that China's measures could escalate tensions in the region. In other words, are you saying that the fact that China unilaterally established its ADIZ has now led to the potential expansion of the ROK ADIZ?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think it likely prompted a reaction, which is why Japan expressed concerns that these measures naturally escalate tensions in the region in this way.


REPORTER: Turning to China now, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel pointed out during his press conference on the 4th that the biggest concern is how China established the ADIZ unilaterally and that this was not a wise course of action. On the other hand, he stated that the establishment of the ADIZ itself is not new or unique. I would like to ask for your opinions regarding this point. These remarks by Secretary Hagel could be interpreted as the U.S. accepting China's establishment of the ADIZ. What are your thoughts or assessment of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is absolutely not the case. Japan and the United States have already affirmed that the two countries will continue to respond by working in close coordination based on the robust Japan-U.S. alliance, without condoning China's attempt to unilaterally alter the status quo. In addition, we are also in agreement with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who visited Japan recently, in that we will not change our policy response at all, including with regard to the operations of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. Forces, and that actions that would threaten the security of private aircraft would not be tolerated in any way. Both Japan and the United States in fact have not shifted their stance on this matter in the slightest since China established the ADIZ.

REPORTER: Does the Japanese Government believe that China at least has the right to establish an ADIZ? Also, regarding the ADIZ issue, the Japanese Government has demanded that China revoke all measures. When you say the revocation of all measures, does this imply that Japan is demanding that China revoke the ADIZ itself, which China established in the East China Sea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The measures announced by China oblige aircraft flying in international airspace to abide by its domestic procedures, and at the same time, set forth that China would take defensive emergency measures against aircraft that do not cooperate with the measures or refuse China's instructions. These measures unduly infringe the freedom of flight in international airspace, and in fact, Japan views that these measures that would be taken could violate international law. From this perspective, Japan demands that China revoke these measures it is attempting to take, which are measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the breakwater issue. A symposium of the Environment Division of the LDP was held yesterday. I believe there is a plan to create a breakwater, the northern section of which is about 360 km long in the Tohoku area, using mostly government funds of approximately 800 billion yen. Even some of the members of the LDP have opposed the project, saying that the breakwater was rather too long. The First Lady, Ms. Akie Abe, as "an opposition party within the family," also voiced her opposition to the construction of the breakwater. What is your view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I believe a variety of discussions are taking place locally regarding the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and disaster management based on those experiences, including matters relating to local economic activities, the lives of residents, and the landscape. The First Lady has visited the disaster area on numerous occasions, and I imagine that she stated such a view while also bearing in mind the opinions of the local people. When I found out about this plan, I too thought there was a problem. There should be more greenery - this breakwater is designed so that the sea would not be visible. That being said, the power to decide rests with the local community. Although the full amount of the breakwater is paid for by government funds, as part of the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, the power to decide rests entirely with the local community. As for the Government, we hope that optimal reconstruction and disaster management are achieved based on a broad discussion covering the opinions of the local people. In the end, the power to decide rests entirely with the local community. With that said, when I first heard about this, I was among those who questioned the appropriateness of this project. Nevertheless, the power to decide rests with the local community. Therefore, it seems that various aspects of this project are also being raised at the prefectural assembly. This is the situation.


REPORTER: Regarding the special intelligence protection bill, in the end the bill was forced to a vote in this afternoon's Special Committee meeting, and the plan is for the bill to then be brought to the plenary session as an emergency measure and voted on as early as this evening as well. Do you think that the Government was able to obtain sufficient understanding from the people?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that the people's understanding has been obtained. Diet deliberations have been carried out for over 40 hours at the House of Representatives. Additionally, even in the context of the National Security Council (NSC) bill, the deliberations for which I myself was involved in, Minister Mori spent quite some time and a considerable portion of the deliberations responding about special intelligence protection. It was in this context that the bill was first voted on in this manner at the Special Committee meeting at the Diet today. As this is a matter of Diet affairs, I believe we are not in a position to make comments. However, my opinion is that the discussion has deepened, and as I noted at the beginning of this press conference, if the bill is passed, we will of course continue to provide careful explanations to the people, and we are confident that we will no doubt be able to obtain their understanding.


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