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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 13, 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: An arbitration tribunal  concerning the South China Sea has ruled that it does not recognize the jurisdiction rights asserted by China. Can I ask for the thoughts of the Government on this award and any response that will be made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) the award of the arbitration tribunal is final. It is also legally binding on the parties to the dispute. The Government believes that it is therefore necessary for China and the Philippines, the parties to this dispute, to comply with the award. Japan strongly expects that the parties’ compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea .

REPORTER: I have a related question. If that is the case, will the Government call on China to accept the award of the arbitration tribunal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Prime Minister himself has repeatedly stated, issues concerning the South China Sea are a matter of the utmost concern for the international community, including Japan, as they are directly linked to regional peace and stability. Japan will continue to strengthen cooperation with countries concerned in advocating the rule of law at sea. We also hope that all the countries concerned will cooperate toward achieving a peaceful resolution to disputes concerning the South China Sea. As such, there is absolutely no change to our existing stance.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In response to this award, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has issued a statement in which it is noted that the award has no binding force and that China neither accepts nor recognizes it . Even though the award may be considered legally binding on the countries concerned, there is no way to force countries to comply. What ways can be sought to urge China to respect the ruling?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on the comments made by China. However, as I have stated previously, Japan will continue to request cooperation from other countries concerned in advocating the rule of law at sea. In addition, the Government expects that all parties concerned in issues relating to the South China Sea will work cooperatively towards a resolution to this dispute. The award of the arbitration tribunal is final.

REPORTER: Given that the issue of the rule of law at sea, including the South China Sea issue, is on the agenda at the 11th Asia-Europe Summit Meeting (ASEM 11) , which the Prime Minister will be attending from tomorrow, does the Government intend to express its stance to date on this issue in the forum of this international meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister’s stance remains totally unchanged.

REPORTER: Do you think that this award will have the effect of curbing China’s moves to establish military bases, which it has been advancing on artificial islands in the South China Sea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The recent award by the arbitration tribunal was based on UNCLOS and is a final award. Therefore it is necessary for the parties concerned to comply with the award.

REPORTER: China has opposed this award and it could therefore be expected that it will further intensify its activities in the South China Sea. What are your thoughts on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, the Government’s position on this matter remains consistent, namely that the award of the arbitration tribunal is final and that parties concerned should comply with this award that is based on the rule of law.

REPORTER: On a related note, the United States is conducting a freedom of navigation operation in the region. Some people have called for the Self-Defense Forces to also engage in warning and surveillance activities in the South China Sea. How does the Government intend to respond concerning this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan’s response has remained entirely unchanged, from both before the award was made and afterwards.

(Abridged)

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