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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 11, 2016 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Since July 7, the security situation in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, has drastically worsened, with exchanges of gunfire taking place between the government and former anti-government forces. In light of this situation, various countries are contemplating the evacuation of their nationals from South Sudan. Against this backdrop, yesterday, July 10, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) decided to evacuate 47 economic cooperation personnel from South Sudan. We are aware that preparations are currently being made to evacuate them by charter aircraft, in close coordination with the Japanese Embassy there. The Government is pursuing a variety of possibilities including transport by the military forces of other countries, in order to ensure the prompt and safe evacuation of Japanese nationals in the country, including economic cooperation personnel. As part of this, preparations will be made for ground transport by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) upon ensuring that it is safe to do so, and for the deployment of the SDF’s C-130 transport aircraft to Djibouti. The Government will take all possible measures based on the recognition that its foremost priority is to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in South Sudan. This matter was discussed at the meeting of the National Security Council held a short while ago.     

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question regarding this topic. It seems that the situation has resulted in over 270 casualties so far. Are there are no known Japanese nationals who have been killed or are wounded?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, in the evening of the 7th local time or the early hours of the 8th JST, sporadic exchanges of fire took place between government and former anti-government forces in several locations in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. With regard to Japanese nationals there, on the 7th, the Embassy of Japan in South Sudan confirmed the safety of all 70 or so Japanese nationals who are in Juba. In addition, the Embassy contacted the SDF engineering unit deployed to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and confirmed that there was nothing out of the ordinary. Subsequently, the Embassy has stayed in contact with the Japanese nationals as necessary and confirmed the safety of all of them.

REPORTER: There is information that hundreds of civilians sought refuge at a United Nations (UN) facility where the Ground Self-Defense Force is encamped. Have you received any reports on whether or not this is true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of the details.

REPORTER: The spokesperson of the anti-government forces has stated to the Western media that the situation has gone back to a state of war or civil war. What is the understanding of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to this matter, based on a comprehensive consideration of the reports we have received from personnel dispatched there as well as information from the Japanese Embassy and the UN, we do not consider that an armed conflict as set out in the PKO Law of Japan has occurred in the area of activity of UNMISS. In any case, under these circumstances, the Government will continue to closely follow the situation with a sense of urgency.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Japan has PKO units deployed to the country. Will they continue to be deployed? Or are you considering withdrawing them?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan will pay close attention to the local situation with a sense of urgency while taking into account the UN’s responses and so on. In any case, the Government is taking all possible measures to ensure the safety of the units.

REPORTER: Is my understanding correct that the PKO units will remain stationed there for the time being?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, the Government will pay close attention to the local situation with a sense of urgency while taking into account the UN’s responses and so on, and first and foremost, take all possible measures to ensure the safety of the units.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm if my understanding is correct that as the now situation stands, the Government perceives that the situation still conforms to the rules for the SDF’s dispatch.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated a short while ago, as of now, first of all, it has been the case from before that judgments regarding whether or not disputes involving the use of force constitute armed conflict in Japan’s PKO Law are to be made on a case-by-case basis in light of their substantive relevance by comprehensively considering the aspects of the situation, the parties to the conflict, and their wishes, among other factors. In addition, between the parties to the conflict, we consider that judgments should be made on a case-by-case basis in light of the substantive relevance, based on the general view of armed conflict which I have just mentioned. Having said that, in terms of the ongoing case, as I stated moments ago, based on a comprehensive consideration of the reports we have received from personnel dispatched there as well as information from the Japanese Embassy and the UN, we do not consider that an armed conflict as set out in the PKO Law of Japan has occurred in the area of activity of UNMISS. We do not perceive that the so-called five rules for participation no longer hold. However, in any case, we will continue to deal with the local situation with a sense of urgency. 

(Abridged)             

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. I wish to ask about the results of yesterday’s House of Councillors elections. With the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) securing 56 seats and Komeito 14 seats, the ruling parties gained 70 seats, more than the target of 61 seats needed to ensure a majority. First of all, can you please share your comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I believe these were very tough elections fought between the LDP-Komeito coalition government and the coalition of opposition parties led by the alliance between the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party. In this context, I am glad that the LDP and the Komeito were able to win more than a majority of the contested seats as targeted by the Prime Minister.

REPORTER: This is a related question. Including parties such as the Initiatives from Osaka that are forward-looking about revising the Constitution, proponents of constitutional reform now make up two-thirds of the entire House of Councillors. It can be said that the environment is set for revising the Constitution. What is your view in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, with respect to the Constitution, the LDP has asserted constitutional reform as its platform since the founding of the party. The LDP compiled and presented a draft in 2012 when Mr. Tanigaki was LDP President. The pamphlet that the LDP prepared for the recent elections also made reference to constitutional reform based on the agreement of the people. As the Prime Minister has often stated thus far, exhaustive discussions should take place concerning how to revise and which parts of the Constitution to revise in a calm environment provided by the Commissions on the Constitution. The Prime Minister has stated repeatedly that in this sense it will ultimately be up to the people, and it is exactly as such.

(Abridged)  

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. Prime Minister Abe stated in an interview yesterday based on the election results that the Prime Minister would pursue a bold economic policy. What is your outlook regarding its exact content and timing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, in these House of Councillors elections, a major issue was whether we were going to move forward or backward with “Abenomics,” the measures that the Abe administration has set out to exit deflation and revitalize the economy. This choice was posed squarely to the people, and we consider that we were able to gain the confidence of the people. In this context, yesterday, during a press conference (interview) regarding the results of the House of Councillors elections, the Prime Minister stated that the results demonstrated the people’s wish to press forward with the current economic policy, and that based on this opinion the Prime Minister would develop comprehensive and bold economic measures with a sense of urgency. The Prime Minister stated that to this effect during his press conference. The bottom line is that this will be translated this into action as stated by the Prime Minister. 

(Abridged)

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