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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 15, 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

(Abridged)

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, following the deliberations and the approval obtained at the nine ministers’ meeting of the National Security Council, the Cabinet approved the revision of the Implementation Plans for the International Peace Cooperation Assignment for the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). Pursuant to the revision, the duty of “kaketsuke-keigo” (coming to the aid of geographically distant unit or personnel under attack) will be assigned to the Self-Defense Force (SDF) engineering unit to be deployed for UNMISS. In addition, with regard to matters not subject to Cabinet approval, the Government has decided to also assign to the SDF engineering unit the duty of joint protection of camps. A document entitled “Fundamental Concept regarding the Assignment of New Duties” has been distributed to you. The position of the Government is as stated in this document. In consideration of the results of the activities so far conducted, the engineering unit’s area of activity in South Sudan will be limited to Juba and the surrounding region under a Defense Minister’s order, starting with the 11th unit.

Q&As

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in connection with kaketsuke-keigo that you just noted. Until now, kaketsuke-keigo was not permitted on the grounds that it may constitute use of force, which is prohibited by the Constitution. Can you once again explain the significance of assigning the new duties that have become possible by the security legislation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to kaketsuke-keigo, in the extremely rare case that an NGO or other workers are attacked near the SDF engineering unit and there are no other United Nations (UN) units that can quickly respond to the situation, the engineering unit will first respond within the scope of the capabilities of the SDF as an emergency and temporary measure. Personnel of UN agencies and NGOs are engaged in activities in South Sudan. It is conceivable that such personnel would request an SDF unit to save them if their lives were in danger. If such a request were to be made and the SDF was nearby, they cannot simply do nothing when they have the ability to take action. In view of such situations, the Government has comprehensively reviewed whether or not new duties would be assigned, based on a careful examination of the local situation, the progress of the trainings, and other factors. As a result, the Government decided that the duty of kaketsuke-keigo would be assigned, as: the preparation training of the personnel of the 11th unit has been completed and they are equipped with the capabilities to carry out kaketsuke-keigo; the conditions necessary for assigning the task of kaketsuke-keigo are met; and it is found that the consent of acceptance is stably maintained.

REPORTER: The new duties have been assigned in an extremely limited manner. For example, they do not anticipate conducting kaketsuke-keigo for military personnel of other countries. To what extent do you expect the assignment of the new duties to increase the actual risks facing the SDF?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, adequate training will be provided. Based on an accurate analysis of the risks according to the local situation, detailed preparations and security arrangements will be made. Efforts will be made in all dimensions to reduce the risks.

REPORTER: I gather that the Government closely followed the local situation until the very last possible moment in assigning the new duties today. You stated that the situation around the capital city of Juba is calm. Do you believe there are no concerns that the security situation in Juba may suddenly deteriorate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, large-scale armed confrontations occurred in the capital city of Juba in July. However, the situation is currently relatively calm. In any case, we will continue to closely follow the security situation. 

REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question. In your view at this time what are the odds that kaketsuke-keigo will be carried out?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At this point in time I would like to refrain from speculating on the possibility. At the very least I can say that members of NGOs and other organizations from Japan are conducting activities in Juba. If they were to need protection or request the SDF for help, the SDF will be able to go rescue them for the first time. In any case, the SDF will fundamentally protect Japanese nationals.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a related question. I would like to ask a question regarding Japan-Russia relations. Today, a meeting of the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Issues will be held between Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida and First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov of Russia. What outcomes do you expect to achieve ahead of the summit meeting in Yamaguchi in December?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you just stated in your question, the 12th meeting of the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Issues will be held today. Japan-Russia summit meetings were held in Sochi in May of this year and in Vladivostok in September. The two countries are moving to further deepen their relationship. Japan proposed an eight-point cooperation plan in the economic sector, and I believe that the two countries have been advancing their cooperation in various areas. Today’s meeting will be held in this context. We expect that productive discussions will take place.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject to Japan-ROK relations. Yesterday, the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) provisionally signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) for the sharing of classified defense information. What is its significance for security as North Korea intensifies its provocations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At yesterday’s discussion, the lead negotiators reached an agreement in principle and provisionally signed the agreement. It is vital that Japan and the ROK work together to respond to the nuclear and missile issues of North Korea. The Government intends to fully collaborate and cooperate with the ROK in the area of security, including the swift signing of this agreement.

REPORTER: By when do you hope to complete the domestic procedures for the signing of this agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The two countries will coordinate with each other towards the swift signing of the agreement.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: In your opening statement, with regard to the statements made by ministers, I believe you stated that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry requested cooperation in relation to the Osaka Expo. Can you once again explain whether anything was discussed today concerning the significance of holding the Expo in Osaka?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister stated that a bid to host the World Exposition in Japan provides an excellent opportunity to appeal the attractions of Japan to the world, and in this context, requested the cooperation of the relevant ministries and agencies. The theme of the bid is the health of humankind and the challenge of longevity. These are issues that humankind will have to address the most going forward. In this sense, the basic concept of Osaka’s bid deal with issues facing not only Japan but also the world. Therefore, I view that this theme of challenge to health and longevity is a very broad area that encompasses medical care, welfare, food, sports, culture, and art. We would like the relevant ministries and agencies to cooperate actively in this endeavor. The Prime Minister encouraged that the Government work together.     


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