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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, September 19, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The reinvestigation of the abduction issue
  • The referendum for independence in Scotland
  • The issue of space security
  • The issue regarding comfort women
  • The Japan-China summit and the Japan-ROK summit
  • Former President of Taiwan’s visit to Japan

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the reinvestigation of the abduction issue. Prime Minister Abe stated in his address a short while ago that, “The results are everything. A report without substance is meaningless.” Now that it looks like (North Korea’s) report will be released later than scheduled, what will the Japanese Government be giving priority to in the coming negotiations? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The goal of the Government remains completely unchanged, which is to ensure the quickest possible return to Japan of all Japanese nationals, including the victims of abduction.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Will you be considering any additional lifting of economic sanctions as an option for making progress on Japan’s negotiations with North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have no such plans at this time. In any case, North Korea informed us that it was conducting the investigations in good faith, that it aimed to complete the investigations in around one year, and that as of now it was unable to offer explanations as the investigations were at an early stage. Therefore, the Government will request North Korea to quickly explain the status of the investigations and what the investigations exactly entail, among other information. As such, Japan and North Korea are now coordinating through the embassy channel in Beijing.

REPORTER: Scotland held its referendum for independence. The result was that Scottish independence was voted down, with “No” votes making up a majority of the votes. What is the reaction of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government would like to refrain from commenting on the results of a referendum of another country. We are glad that there were no major disruptions. 


REPORTER: I understand that space security was on the agenda of this afternoon’s National Security Council (NSC) meeting. What was discussed exactly?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is true that a four ministers’ meeting of the NSC was held and that discussions took place on space security issues, among other matters. Nonetheless, I would like to refrain from disclosing the content of the discussions.


REPORTER: It has been reported that President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea (ROK) will refer to “comfort women” in her keynote address at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in autumn. Prime Minister Abe will also be attending the UN General Assembly. How will Japan be explaining its position to the international community?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan’s position on the comfort women issue is clear. We will explain carefully if the respective participants ask about this issue. I think that’s what it comes down to. Furthermore, the Prime Minister recently hosted an international conference on women in Japan. Over the past 70 years following the end of World War II, Japan has developed into a peace-loving nation while pursuing a course that upholds women’s rights. Such efforts will, of course, also be explained.

REPORTER: I have a question in connection with this matter. Moments ago, I understand that Japan-ROK Director-General level talks took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Have you been briefed on what exchanges took place regarding the comfort women issue and other issues?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Economic and various other issues between Japan and the ROK exist, in addition to the issue of comfort women. I have been briefed that views were exchanged regarding such issues.

REPORTER: Did any forward-looking discussion take place on issues such as the ROK’s import regulations on Japan’s fishery products?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It would be logical to presume that the Japanese side requested the swift removal of such regulations. I have been briefed that the Japanese side remarked on a variety of issues.

REPORTER: Both the Japan-China summit meeting and the Japan-ROK summit meeting are yet to take place. Do you have any opinions on which one should take precedence?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Both China and the ROK are neighboring countries of Japan. In particular, China and Japan are the second and third largest economies in the world. Accordingly, China has tremendous influence not only on peace and prosperity in the region, but also in the world. On the other hand, Japan and the ROK are countries that share fundamental values. Against this backdrop, Japan’s position is that the leaders should meet and hold talks, precisely because issues exist between them. Japan will work towards the realization of the summit meetings.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the issue of abductions. I imagine that the family members of the abductees are pinning their hopes on the ongoing investigations. However, we are already seeing delays from the very first report. Do you still believe that North Korea is making sincere efforts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The door to dialogue regarding the abduction issue was closed firmly for many years. When the Abe administration took office, we were finally able to wrench this door open. Indeed, I believe the crucial part of the negotiations comes now. North Korea stated that the Special Investigation Committee initiated the investigations and was conducting them in good faith, and furthermore, that North Korea was unable to offer explanations at this point as the investigations were still in an early stage. The Japanese Government is now requesting North Korea to quickly provide not only this information, but also explanations on what sort of investigations are being conducted exactly and their status. We will gradually make such information known. We will make sure that the investigations will lead to the resolution of the issues, with a focus on the abduction issue.

REPORTER: My question concerns this same matter. The members of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea are probably hoping to see results early on from the first report. At the same time, it is conceivable that setting a deadline would weaken Japan’s position in the negotiations. With regard to the pace of the negotiations, will Japan indeed be making steady preparations with a view to achieving results within this one-year timeframe? What is Japan’s policy on its negotiation approach in this regard?        

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Initially, a timeframe was not made clear when the agreement was reached between the two countries. However, I figured that the investigations should not drag on too long, and that it would not take too long to achieve results – around a year at most. And then for the first time, North Korea notified us that it had created the Special Investigation Committee scheme, and was aiming to complete the investigations in around a year. In this context, what is most important for Japan is to ensure the return to Japan of all Japanese nationals, including the abductees. Japan will resolutely and steadily engage in the negotiations while fully taking into account what measures would be most effective to realize this. 
REPORTER: Mr. Lee Teng-hui, former President of Taiwan, is visiting Japan for the first time in five years. I gather that he has had significant influence on Japan over the years, both as a politician and intellectual. What is your assessment of former President Lee Teng-hui’s achievements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that Mr. Lee Teng-hui is visiting Japan from September 16 to 25 to give lectures, meet with acquaintances, and for tourism purposes. As Mr. Lee Teng-hui is now a private citizen, the Government is not in a position to make particular comments. I am sure everyone in Japan is aware of Mr. Lee Teng-hui’s list of accomplishments and exemplary record of service that he left behind him as President of Taiwan. I also believe Mr. Lee Teng-hui had a close affinity with Japan.  

REPORTER: Related to this, can you please tell us if the Prime Minister or relevant Cabinet members have any plans to meet with former President Lee Teng-hui during his visit to Japan? Or are there any plans for the Prime Minister to extend a welcome to the former President in one way or another?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of any plans.


REPORTER: I would like to return again to the issue of abductions. During this morning’s press conference, you said the sooner that North Korea provides explanations, the better. You then predicted that North Korea naturally knows the whereabouts of the abductees. If North Korea already knows this information, can’t it provide this information at an early stage? Can you say that North Korea’s current response is sincere?    

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We perceive that North Korea of course knows this information. As such, we are now negotiating with North Korea regarding the abductees.


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