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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet Meeting. The meeting approved three general measures, as well as a cabinet order and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Amari made a statement concerning the partial revision of measures relating to the abolition of ministerial meetings and ministerial discussions. Prime Minister Abe made a statement concerning acting Ministers while Ministers in charge are away on overseas visits, among other matters.

Today, following the Cabinet meeting, the first meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council since the Cabinet reshuffle was held. At the meeting, Minister Takeshita provided an explanation concerning the status of reconstruction, following which the Prime Minister noted that “all ministers are ministers for reconstruction,” and issued instructions for unstinting efforts to be made to develop Tohoku into a front-runner for the creation of a new Japan. Based on the Prime Minister’s instructions, the Government will make concerted efforts to further accelerate the pace of reconstruction.

Circumstances permitting, Prime Minister Abe will visit the United States from September 22 to 27 and attend the 69th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York. During his stay in New York, the Prime Minister is scheduled to deliver an address to the UN General Assembly session and make a speech at the 2014 Climate Summit. The Prime Minister will also take this opportunity to hold bilateral summit meetings with leaders of various countries. Through his attendance at the UN General Assembly Session, Prime Minister Abe will proactively explain Japan's vision and position regarding the global issues facing the international community. It will also provide a good opportunity to deepen relations of trust with world leaders.


  • The reinvestigation of abduction by North Korea
  • The resource management of cetaceans
  • The dispatch of fighter aircraft and military personnel from Australia
  • The disclosure of the partial footage of the interviews of former comfort women

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the reinvestigation of abductions by North Korea. There have been reports in the press that the North Korean side offered to allow the Japanese side to meet with survivors, but that this offer was rejected by Japan. Could you tell us the facts of this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The current status, including the way forward for negotiations, is that interactions are taking place via embassy channels in Beijing. I would like to refrain from commenting on the details. There are various press reports about this matter, but the Government does not respond to such reports. Whatever the case, the Government is dedicating its efforts towards ensuring the safety and the immediate return to Japan of all the abductees, obtaining a full account concerning the abductions, and achieving the handover of the perpetrators of the abductions. There is absolutely no change to this stance.

REPORTER: It would appear that interactions are becoming increasingly animated between the two sides with regard to the abduction issue. It was expected that the first report of the reinvestigation would be available by late summer or early autumn, but it is already autumn in Japan. Could you tell us about the status of progress?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Initially it was expected that a report would be provided between late summer and early autumn. As I just stated, the current situation is that dialogue is continuing through embassy channels. I would like to refrain from going into further detail.

REPORTER: With regard to the resource management of cetaceans, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Meeting has recently begun. This will be the first time that the organization has convened since the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ordered Japan to halt its research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean. How will the Government explain Japan’s position and gain the understanding of the international community on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As was also noted in the statement issued by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on April 18, the policy of the Government is based on international law and scientific evidence. Its principle aim to capture and research cetaceans in order to collect essential scientific data relating to resource management under the JARPA program. In the past, the Government has explained this policy to countries concerned. At the current IWC Meeting further efforts will be made to firmly explain Japan’s position and seek understanding.

REPORTER: Prime Minister Abbott of Australia has announced the dispatch of fighter aircraft and military personnel, with a view to participating in the airstrikes on Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) being implemented by the United States. Can I ask for your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government of Japan has always condemned in the strongest terms terrorism in all its forms, and continues to express its intention to support the Government of Iraq and other countries in the fight against terrorism. The Government of Japan understands the recent announcement by the Government of Australia in this context. However, as Japan is unable to make a military contribution, we seek to implement humanitarian assistance and make an active contribution to strengthening governance in Iraq and other countries in the region.

REPORTER: On a related note, Prime Minister Abbott has explained that his recent announcement regarding the dispatch of aircraft and personnel was in response to a formal request made by the Government of the United States. You have just stated that Japan is unable to make a military contribution, however, if the United States were to request assistance from Japan, including the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), is the Government prepared to respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The situation is as I have just explained it. That is all.

REPORTER: On September 15, a Republic of Korea-based organization involved in interviewing former comfort women during the compilation of the Kono Statement released partial footage of the interviews. It was said that the organization made an agreement at the time with the Japanese embassy in the Republic of Korea (ROK) that such footage would not be released publicly. Could you tell us whether a pledge of this kind was actually made and also your views on the release of the footage?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly I would like to note that the interviews with former Korean comfort women were implemented on the condition of confidentiality. The Government of Japan has accordingly been very cautious about disclosing any of the contents of the interviews. This is a point I have noted on frequent occasions in responses to the Diet. Given this stance by Japan it is therefore very hard to understand and highly regrettable that the Association of Pacific War Victims and Bereaved Families of the ROK has disclosed this partial footage.

REPORTER: I have a related question. With regard to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper’s admission and apology that some of its reports about the comfort women issue were erroneous, Prime Minister Abe has made a statement in which he noted that the newspaper is required to make a thorough retraction before the eyes of the world. On the other hand, as long as the Kono Statement exists, it would be extremely difficult to gain the appropriate international understanding that the articles of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper were erroneous and not based in fact. With this in mind can I ask again whether the Government is considering issuing a new statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary with regard to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to note that at the time of the first Abe administration, the Cabinet approved a written response in which it was noted that from among the documentation discovered by the Government on this issue, there were no statements that would suggest the direct involvement of military or administrative authorities in forceful recruitment. Furthermore, as a result of the study in the drafting process of the Kono Statement, the Government of Japan conducted negotiations within the limit of not distorting the relevant facts based on the study, with the recognition that it was not possible to confirm that women were “forcefully recruited.”  The Government will continue to reinforce this point in statements both domestically and overseas.

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