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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, September 26, 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 one general measure as well as cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning the consumer price index. Minister Arimura made a statement concerning the meeting of the Council for Promoting Measures to Prevent Drug Abuse. The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology made a statement concerning personnel affairs relating to the heads of national university corporations. The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism made a statement concerning the personnel affairs relating to the heads of independent administrative agencies.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Ishiba made a statement concerning proposals from local governments about decentralization reform.

Today State Minister of Defense Akira Sato was appointed to concurrently serve as State Minister of Cabinet Office and Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense Hirotaka Ishikawa was appointed to concurrently serve as Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Cabinet Office. Both of these ministers will assist Minister in charge of Security Legislation Eto.


  • The opening of the extraordinary Diet session
  • The Japan-ROK Foreign Minister’s meeting
  • The comments made by the former Prime Minister regarding Japan-China relation
  • The issue regarding comfort women
  • The work to review the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation
  • The discussion with Governor Masuzoe of Tokyo who visited the ROK for observing Asian Games 2014

REPORTER: The extraordinary Diet session is scheduled to begin from next week. Can I ask about the stance that the Government and ruling parties will take as this session of the Diet begins?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The highest priority for the reshuffled cabinet of the second Abe administration continues to be to advance the revitalization of the Japanese economy. The Government seeks to demonstrate political leadership in advancing various reforms, including vitalizing local economies and realizing a society in which all women shine. The extraordinary Diet session is scheduled to start from September 29 and will be held with the promotion of such policies in mind. During this session of the Diet there are plans to submit bills relating to economic revitalization and vitalization of local economies, and towards the realization of a society in which all women shine, as well as bills relating to disaster prevention and the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Government will be consulting with the Committee on Rules and Administration of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors today. Whatever the case, the Government will provide thorough explanations concerning the various bills and would like to request the Diet to engage in constructive deliberations.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ meeting. In the meeting the two ministers agreed to further deepen high-level communications between the two countries, including at the summit level. Can I ask for your thoughts on this outcome and what you consider to be the preferable timing for a summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ meeting was held in New York and that similar to the meeting that took place in August the two ministers engaged in a forward-looking exchange of opinions towards advancing Japan-ROK relations. In the meeting the two ministers welcomed the recent forward-looking moves between the two countries and reaffirmed that although difficult issues exist between Japan and the ROK, it is important to continue to maintain and deepen communications at a high political level. The Ministers also confirmed that mutual efforts should be made to ensure that the fiftieth anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations next year should be a milestone that is welcomed in a congenial and friendly atmosphere.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In a press conference the Prime Minister has also stated that he hopes to hold a summit meeting with the ROK using the various opportunities provided by international conferences. This autumn there are a variety of such conferences due to be held, including the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in October and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November. Did the Prime Minister have such conferences in mind when he made his remarks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister has no specific timing in mind. Whatever the case, given that already there are forward-looking exchanges of opinion taking place, my feeling is that the best way forward would be to let a summit meeting be arranged as a natural outcome of these exchanges.

REPORTER: In a speech yesterday, former Prime Minister Fukuda stated with regard to Asian diplomacy that he hopes to see leaders shaking hands with each other. Mr. Fukuda has previously also met with President Xi Jinping. Recently Mr. Kiyohiko Toyama and others of New Komeito have visited China, as have two deputy secretary-generals of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). What is the view of the Prime Minister’s Office with regard to such moves?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In addition to the comments made by the former Prime Minister, and also the recent visits to China by politicians and LDP executives, I would like to state that I have often previously pointed out the various Japan-China meetings that have been taking place. These include a meeting of ministers responsible for trade in May, the first such ministerial meeting since the inauguration of the Abe administration; a meeting between the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Chinese Vice Premier in June; and the foreign ministers’ meeting that was held in August. Furthermore, representatives of local governments and Governor Masuzoe of Tokyo have visited Beijing, where it was agreed to implement further exchanges at the local government level. In business circles, too, a large mission was recently dispatched to China consisting of 210 people, including prominent participation by the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). These various meetings demonstrate that while Japan and China may face various issues as neighboring countries, it is of the utmost importance for a summit meeting to take place.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I would have thought that under normal circumstances it is the role of the Government to engage in diplomacy. Do you consider these various moves by political parties and business as serving a supplementary role?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is also engaging in various measures, including, for example, the holding of a government-level meeting on defense just the other day. The Government will continue to engage in comprehensive measures, under our basic stance that the door for dialogue is always open.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ meeting. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se has stated that he told Foreign Minister Kishida that “in order for the two countries to see an improvement in their relations, Japan should first make sincere efforts to heal the wounds from the past, including the issue of sexual slavery victims drafted for Japan’s Imperial Army during World War II.” This would appear to imply that such efforts are a precondition for the realization of a summit meeting. What are your thoughts on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that the minister’s statement indicates that preconditions have been set. Japan’s position is clear on such issues and what we have been seeking to do with the comfort women issue is not to set out a specific solution, but to sincerely explain Japan’s position and to seek understanding. There are various issues that exist between the two countries in addition to the comfort women issue and given the fact that both the ROK and Japan are extremely important neighboring countries for each other, it is important for the leaders of the two countries to come together and hold a summit meeting.

REPORTER: On a related note, are we to understand that the Government will not make any new responses to the comfort women issue, such as those being requested by the ROK side?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No new responses will be made. The Government has explained our stance to date and will continue to firmly explain this stance.


REPORTER: This morning, during a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs Division and the National Defense Division of the LDP, Director Sato of the National Defense Division stated that according to the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, there is information to suggest that nine Japanese nationals have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Does the Government have any information with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has not confirmed such information.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation. There are some press reports that suggest that the review of the guidelines, which was initially intended to be completed this year, has now been extended beyond the end of the year. Can you tell us about the status of the progress of the review?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee meeting (2+2) held in Japan in October last year both sides agreed to complete the work to review the guidelines by the end of this year. It is my understanding that the ministries and agencies concerned are of course working vigorously to advance work on the review based on the agreed schedule.

REPORTER: I believe that you recently met with Governor Masuzoe of Tokyo. What did you talk about with the Governor?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Governor Masuzoe visited the ROK to observe the Incheon Asian Games 2014, which are currently taking place. We engaged in an exchange of opinions about the results of his visit, including for example the situation at the opening ceremony, and the results of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) reception. We also discussed points that the Governor had noted after visiting facilities in Incheon that he considered would also be necessary for ensuring the success of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. In addition, Governor Masuzoe expressed a strong desire for Special Financial Zones and National Strategic Special Zones to be established in Tokyo, noting that Tokyo and the central government should work together on such issues.

REPORTER: Did you discuss Japan-ROK relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Governor Masuzoe had previously visited the ROK and met with President Park Geun-hye, and on his recent visit to the Incheon Asian Games he also had the opportunity to meet with the President again, noting that as a result the atmosphere of the meeting on this occasion was very relaxed.

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