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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 27, 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
Today, His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa passed away. Upon hearing the news of the passing of His Imperial Highness, the Prime Minister has issued a statement, which I will read out.

It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the passing of His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa. His Imperial Highness was born as the fourth son of Emperor Taisho, and for many years from the Showa era onward he assisted both his elder brother Emperor Showa and later His Majesty the Emperor, contributing to the peace of the nation and the welfare of the people. As a member of the Imperial Family, His Imperial Highness fulfilled an important role in a broad range of fields, particularly in the promotion of international goodwill, sports, recreation, art, culture, medical care, and welfare. His Imperial Highness always interacted warmly with the people of Japan, offering his encouragement to people involved in various commemorative ceremonies and events he attended. His Imperial Highness was also a distinguished researcher of ancient oriental history. In his later years, His Imperial Highness spent his days peacefully and in good health and last year celebrated his 100th birthday. The people of Japan were hoping that His Imperial Highness would continue to live for many years to come, and it leaves us in unbearable sorrow that with the passing of His Imperial Highness these hopes could not be realized. Extending my deepest sympathy to the members of the Imperial Household and other close relatives of His Imperial Highness, together with the people of Japan I would like to express my heartfelt condolences.

Q&As

REPORTER: Today, with the passing of His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa, the number of members of the Imperial Family in the Imperial succession has reduced to four persons. The Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor is holding meetings, so are we to understand that it will also engage in discussions from the perspective of ensuring a stable Imperial succession?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have noted previously, the Advisory Council is being held to engage in discussions on ways to ease the burden of the official duties of His Majesty, in view of the fact that His Majesty is 82 years old and advanced in years. I am aware that various discussions are being held on the Imperial system. With regard to how to respond to the decrease in the number of members of the Imperial Family in the future, this is a matter that is being considered within the Government in the Imperial House Law Revision Office of the Cabinet Secretariat, taking into full account the various discussions that have taken place to date.

REPORTER: I have a related question. If that is the case then the matter of the decrease in the members of the Imperial Family is not one of the items for consideration by the Advisory Council. Does the Government have any intention of adding this matter to the items to be considered by the council?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, there are no plans to do so.

REPORTER: Will the Advisory Council be meeting as scheduled today?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes.

REPORTER: I believe that President Duterte of the Philippines is scheduled to meet His Majesty today. Are there any changes to this schedule?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the current point I am not aware of any changes to the schedule.

REPORTER: Yesterday President Duterte of the Philippines held a summit meeting with Prime Minister Abe. What is the Government’s evaluation of the outcomes of the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe has held a summit meeting with President Duterte and hosted a dinner in his honor. During the meeting wide-ranging discussions took place, covering issues from bilateral cooperation to the regional situation. Furthermore, with regard to the issue of the South China Sea, the Prime Minister explained Japan’s stance, noting that this issue is one that is directly connected to peace and stability in the region and is a matter of interest common to the international community, and that Japan supports the realization of the rule of law in the South China Sea. The two leaders also confirmed that based on the recent award in the arbitration between the Philippines and China, Japan and the Philippines will further strengthen cooperative relations towards the peaceful resolution of the dispute. The Government considers that the visit of President Duterte to Japan has provided a significant opportunity to further deepen bilateral ties and the partnership.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have just noted that the issue of the South China Sea was raised in the meeting, so what was the significance of those discussions in terms of relations between Japan and China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted, I believe that the visit by the President has provided a significant opportunity to further deepen bilateral ties and partnership between Japan and the Philippines.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, concerning the conclusion of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with the Republic of Korea (ROK). According to reports in the ROK press, officials in the Government of ROK have indicated that they are seeking to swiftly resume negotiations on the conclusion of the GSOMIA, which would enable security-related information to be shared between the two governments. Could you tell us about the facts behind these reports and the status of considerations on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is of the utmost importance for Japan and the ROK to cooperate in responding to North Korean missile issues. In addition, the Government is seeking to further enhance Japan-ROK cooperation in security-related areas.

REPORTER: Can I confirm that reports that negotiations are due to resume soon are true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on individual matters. However, cooperation in security-related areas between Japan and the ROK is of the utmost importance.

(Abridged)

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