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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, August 4, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The the earthquake in China
  • The former Prime Minister Fukuda’s visit to China
  • The issue of comfort women
  • The contaminated water stored at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • The decision of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries not to participate in a project for the manufacture of F35


REPORTER: Changing the subject to the earthquake in China, reports are already in that nearly 400 people were killed by the large-scale earthquake that struck Yunnan Province. The number of casualties and injured could increase further. Will the Japanese Government be extending any assistance?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the late afternoon on the 3rd, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit Ludian County in Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, in southwest China. According to present reports, 367 people were killed and 1,801 people were injured. There are currently no reports of any Japanese people or Japanese companies being affected. As for the Japanese Government, in the wake of the earthquake, Japanese Ambassador to China, Masato Kitera, from the Embassy of Japan in China, expressed his condolences to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has stated as well that Japan stands ready to extend assistance. China expressed appreciation for this and said that it would contact Japan as necessary should any assistance be needed. This is what I have been informed of.     

REPORTER: If I may confirm what you stated, has the Government explicitly explained what assistance Japan stands ready to provide? Or is it dependent on China requesting Japan’s assistance? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As Japan has experienced a variety of earthquakes, the Japanese Ambassador to China conveyed to China that it should feel free to request anything, including rescue and relief activities.

REPORTER: Regarding a different matter, there are reports that former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda met secretly with President Xi Jinping of China. Although I also asked about this last week, can you please tell us if the Government knows whether or not this is true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to former Prime Minister Fukuda, we understand that he visited China for affairs related to the Boao Forum for Asia. Former Prime Minister Fukuda is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of said forum. The Government is unaware of the itinerary of the former Prime Minister during his stay in China. There is no truth to the reports that Japan and China have begun making specific arrangements for a Japan-China summit meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November. In any case, the position of Japan is that it is necessary to conduct dialogue precisely because of the various issues that exist between our two countries, and Japan hopes to hold a Japan-China summit meeting on the sidelines of APEC in Beijing in November. I have stated that Japan’s door for dialogue is always open and that Japan hopes China will do the same. Japan has consistently taken the view that it is precisely because bilateral issues exist between us that we need to hold dialogue without attaching any preconditions.

REPORTER: In regard to this matter, there are also some reports stating that former Prime Minister Fukuda met with Prime Minister Abe prior to visiting China. Is this true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have no knowledge of this.

REPORTER: Regarding this matter, I gather that Japan’s position of not attaching any preconditions has remained the same. Have there been any changes recently in China’s approach or response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not seen any such changes with regard to a summit meeting. However, relatively speaking, our understanding is that Japan-China exchanges have been broadening in areas other than politics, such as economic and local government exchanges and visits to Japan by Chinese tourists. 

REPORTER: I have a related question. Does that mean that realizing a summit meeting is impossible unless Japan changes its attitude towards China, whereby Japan will not attach the Senkaku issue or the Yasukuni issue as preconditions for dialogue. 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, Japan has stated that we must engage in dialogue precisely because issues do exist between our two countries. We have stated that rather than attaching preconditions to dialogue, we must engage in dialogue precisely because these issues exist, and that Japan’s door for dialogue is always open. This is the basic stance with which Japan is addressing this matter. It is the position of Japan that in this context, local government exchanges, economic exchanges, and cultural exchanges should be conducted.

REPORTER: The Kono Statement was released on August 4, 1993. The Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) announced that around the end of 2015 it would publish a whitepaper on comfort women. It is said that the whitepaper would describe the dialogues and confrontations between the Japanese and ROK Governments, and that the whitepaper would also be published in English, Chinese, and Japanese and distributed to the international community. What is the view of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, with regard to the comfort women issue, Japan has been asking the ROK to fully understand the position of Japan and the efforts it has made to date. In any case, Japan believes that we should not turn this issue into a political or diplomatic issue. It is the consistent position of Japan that the issue of property claims between Japan and the ROK, which includes the comfort women issue, was resolved fully and definitively with the signing of the Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning the Settlement of Problems in Regard to Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation.

REPORTER: China, meanwhile, aims to have its archives related to the Nanjing Incident and the recruitment of comfort women by the former Imperial Japanese Army inscribed to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. We now know more about the applications that were submitted to UNESCO. The application on the Nanjing Incident underscores that it constituted one of the three most horrific tragedies of World War II, similar to the Holocaust in Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and notes that over 300,000 people were massacred. Furthermore, the application on comfort women states that the archives are of historical value because they disclose the fact that Japan forcibly recruited comfort women and set up comfort stations. What is the reaction of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government is of course aware that such applications are available on the UNESCO website. We are currently reviewing the applications in detail. At the same time, we are gathering more relevant information and will deal with this matter appropriately. In any case, we are at a time in our history where both Japan and China need to make efforts to improve our relations. It is extremely regrettable that China is using UNESCO for political purposes and intentionally focusing attention on the negative legacy between our two countries from a period of time in the past. Japan has lodged repeated protests to China to withdraw its application.     

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the contaminated water stored at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been aiming to complete the purification of all contaminated water by the end of this fiscal year. However, due to the malfunctions of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), as things currently stand, it looks as though the purification process will not be completed in time. Have you received any reports from TEPCO regarding this matter?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We receive reports from TEPCO continuously regarding the status of the contaminated water. The concentration of radioactive substances of the treated contaminated water is now 1/100,000 of the level before treatment. In this sense, we understand that the treatment process has made a certain amount of progress. In any case, work is ongoing to build high-performance treatment equipment, and we are also proceeding with the plan to increase the number of such equipment. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is pressing TEPCO to complete the plan for this fiscal year on time. 

REPORTER: There are some discrepancies between the original and current plans. Does the Government have any intention in particular to review the way it provides assistance, for example?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are fully addressing this matter while receiving reports from TEPCO. We are now working to ensure that the plan be completed by the end of this fiscal year.

REPORTER: Changing the topic, I have a question regarding the F35 state-of-the-art stealth fighter. According to some reports, next fiscal year, following on from this fiscal year, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. has decided not to participate in a project for the manufacture and export of F35 parts, in which the Government is promoting the participation of Japanese companies. Is this true? Also, what significance is there for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to take part in this project in the future?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the F35 is the latest fighter jet. Generally speaking, we consider that the participation of Japanese companies in an international program to produce the F35 will contribute to maintaining and strengthening the foundation of the technologies of the Japanese defense industry and of the industry itself. In any case, as these are private companies, I would like to refrain from making comments regarding individual production parts and conditions.

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