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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, August 7, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The situation in Ukraine
  • OHCHR’s statement regarding the issue of comfort women
  • The infection of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever
  • The Governor of Tokyo’s courtesy call on Prime Minister

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the situation in Ukraine. Russia has enacted an embargo on and taken measures to restrict imports of agricultural products from Japan, the European Union, and the United States that imposed sanctions against Russia. What is the reaction of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is most regrettable that Russia took such measures. We understand that Russia is set to designate the specific products, and therefore, the Government will be closely following the situation. Instead of retaliatory measures against the sanctions, Japan will urge Russia to take constructive actions towards a peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine, including cease-fire, peace talks, cessation of inflow of weapons and fighters across the border, tightening of border-control measures, and an end to the intimidating presence of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine.

REPORTER: Regarding this matter, so the Japanese Government’s stance of continuing to urge Russia to engage in dialogue remains unchanged?



REPORTER: The other day, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay released a statement on Japan’s approach to the issue of “comfort women,” saying that the Japanese Government has failed to pursue a comprehensive, impartial and lasting resolution of the issue. Furthermore, the statement criticized the study of the Kono Statement, saying that the former comfort women continue to face denials and degrading remarks by public figures in Japan and that human rights violations against these women will continue to occur as long as their rights to justice and reparation are not realized. Can you first give us your comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The position of Japan on the issue of comfort women is as we have always stated. With regard to the Kono Statement, a variety of questions were raised at the Diet about its drafting process. Therefore, a group of experts carried out a detailed study of the drafting process in an objective manner, and we reported the findings to the Diet. I believe that explains it all.

REPORTER: Although you always state that the position of Japan is clear, this message does not seem to really get across to the international community. Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Committee recommended an investigation in its concluding observations. Do you consider that new approaches are needed to make Japan’s position clearer to the international community?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: For example, Japan has been fully explaining its position to the United Nations. Also, in response to the establishment of comfort women sculptures and other monuments in some municipalities in the United States, Japan has been explaining the position it has taken to date over the issue of comfort women. In particular, it is the consistent position of Japan that this 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. At the same time, from a moral standpoint, the Japanese Government has made maximum efforts to offer realistic relief to former comfort women through the Asian Women’s Fund. For example, the Prime Minister at the time sent letters of apology to the comfort women, “atonement money” was provided, and “medical and welfare projects” were conducted. Japan has explained these efforts to date. Japan will persistently explain its position while explaining about such efforts.

REPORTER: The number of people infected with Ebola hemorrhagic fever is increasing sharply, primarily in West Africa. What measures is the Japanese Government taking, including measures to prevent the spread of the virus in Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to the current situation, the number of people infected with Ebola hemorrhagic fever is increasing in West Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of August 4, I understand that there were 1,711 cases and 932 deaths reported. In view of this situation, the Japanese Government is providing information on an official website as well as raising awareness through posters targeting those leaving and returning to Japan. In addition, in light of the recent situation, Japan has raised the travel advice and warning for travel to three West African countries to “Recommendation to consider whether or not to travel.” Furthermore, we are screening for Ebola using thermography and based on declarations made by those entering Japan. We also have in place measures to ensure that should there be any suspicious cases of Ebola, such people will be taken to designated medical institutions for specific infectious diseases. Japan will continue to closely monitor the international infection situation and remain fully prepared to take adequate responses based on the aforementioned circumstances, while coordinating with relevant organizations, including the WHO.

REPORTER: Changing the subject, a short while ago, Governor Masuzoe of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) visited the Prime Minister’s Office and met with the Prime Minister and you. I believe it was to discuss the Governor’s recent visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK). Following the meeting, Governor Masuzoe said during his doorstep interview that he conveyed a message from President Park Geun-hye to the Prime Minister’s Office. Can you describe the content of the message?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, today, Governor Masuzoe paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister and briefed on his overall recent visit to Seoul, including his meeting with President Park Geun-hye. During the courtesy call, Governor Masuzoe reported that he came away with an impression that President Park Geun-hye or the ROK very much wished to somehow improve the Japan-ROK relationship. The Prime Minister responded that he shared the same hope. The Governor of TMG reported to the Prime Minister that changes seen in the tone of the editorials of major ROK newspapers show signs for an improvement in the Japan-ROK relationship. With regard to hate speech, Governor Masuzoe of TMG stated that hate speech represents a challenge to open democracy and freedom of speech, and is an embarrassing issue for the host city of the Olympic Games. Governor Masuzoe said that it was important to fully deal with this issue. The Prime Minister responded to Governor Masuzoe saying that hate speech tarnishes the pride of Japan which has forged relations with the international community with integrity. The Prime Minister said that the Government would fully tackle this issue and that the Government must tackle this issue. In any case, I recall that the Prime Minister asked the Governor to continue to steadily engage in city diplomacy.

REPORTER: Chief Cabinet Secretary, if I may confirm one point about what you just stated, it seems that both the Governor and the Prime Minister gave emphasis on hate speech. Does the Government have any countermeasures in mind, including revisions to legislation?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister has said, also in his responses to questions at the Diet, that Japanese people treasure the spirit of “wa” or harmony, this spirit that calls us to value tolerance and to be humble to others and demonstrate courtesy at all times. He has said that speech and behavior that exclude certain countries and ethnic groups are extremely regrettable and should never be tolerated. In this sense, the Prime Minister said that the Liberal Democratic Party also needs to study this matter.  


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