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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 24, 2016 (PM)

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: I have a question about the situation in South Sudan. Former Vice President Riek Machar, who leads anti-government forces in South Sudan, has stated to multiple media organizations that it is his understanding that the peace agreement and unified government have collapsed. It would therefore appear that South Sudan is in a very dangerous situation. Is there thus a reason for Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) units to be assigned "kaketsuke-keigo" (coming to the aid of geographically distant units or personnel under attack) duties and dispatched to such a place to engage in peacekeeping operations (PKO)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, although I am aware of the press reports about this matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on individual comments made by the former First Vice President of South Sudan. Furthermore, taking into comprehensive account the reports from personnel dispatched to South Sudan, information from our embassy, and from the United Nations, and also the report on the results of the observation visit made by the Minister of Defense, the Government does not consider that an armed clash is likely to take place in the region where SDF units are deployed, and nor does it consider that hostile actions are taking place. In the region of the capital city of Juba, which is where SDF units are deployed, the situation is relatively stable. With regard to “kaketsuke-keigo,” the current situation is that SDF personnel are undergoing the necessary training. With regard to the question of what duties to assign to units dispatched for PKO in South Sudan, the Government will consider the matter comprehensively, paying close attention to the situation on the ground and the progress status of training. Accordingly, at the current time nothing has been decided.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have just stated that the Government will consider the matter comprehensively, but it is currently the case that the 9th unit is engaged in training for new duties in Iwate. If you say that the Government has not yet decided whether to assign new duties and with training already underway, is it really the case that a decision could be made not to assign new duties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Of course, that is still an option, as nothing has been decided. However, training is being conducted and the progress of training must also be assessed, as well as the situation on the ground in South Sudan, before the Government can make a comprehensive judgment on what to do. As of now no decision has been made, including the timing of a Cabinet decision.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In the event that “kaketsuke-keigo” duties are assigned to a new unit dispatched to engage in PKO in South Sudan, do you consider that it would be preferable to assign these duties at the time of dispatch, or, depending on the situation, could it also be possible that duties would be assigned at a later date following the dispatch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing has been determined, including such matters.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the statement issued yesterday by the international journalist organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The statement reports that a British journalist, Mr. Jon Mitchell, acquired documents under the United States Freedom of Information Act, in which he found evidence that he had been placed under surveillance by the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa for being “adversarial.” These documents also detail the names of protest groups and individual protesters in Okinawa. Noting therefore that the actions of the U.S. Marine Corps could limit activities to engage in freedom of speech in Japan, RSF is calling for an explanation, including whether or not the Government of Japan is involved in such surveillance. Could I ask for your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly as the content of the statement you refer to concerns the actions of U.S. Forces, I do not think that I should make any comment on behalf of the Government of Japan. I am unaware of the details pertaining to actions taken by U.S. Forces that the statement refers to and therefore I would like to refrain from commenting from a Government standpoint. What I would add is that the Government’s stance is naturally that freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan should be respected, and that absolutely no measures are taken to deny the right of people to engage in lawful protest activities in Okinawa in accordance with laws and regulations. In any event, there is absolutely no truth that the Government has put pressure on press organizations or individual members of the press.

REPORTER: I have an additional question. Speaking in general terms, do you think it is right for U.S. Forces to gather information and engage in surveillance of civil groups and journalists and circulate this information internally?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From a Government standpoint, I would like to refrain from speaking in generalities.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the reactor decommissioning costs at nuclear power stations. There are reports that following the complete abolition of regulated power tariffs in the future, the Government is considering making nuclear power station operators liable for the costs of dismantling and decommissioning nuclear reactors that have ceased operations, as part of nuclear power operations. What are the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing has been decided by the Government with regard to this issue. This matter is due to be deliberated by a council of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and a direction in terms of policy has yet to be determined.

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