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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 1, 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: Currently, counter-piracy operations of the Self-Defense Forces off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden are being conducted using two escort vessels and two patrol aircraft. The threat of piracy still remains as the root causes of this issue have yet to be resolved, including poverty in Somalia. However, thanks to the sustained efforts of the international community, piracy incidents currently occur at extremely low frequency. The number of requests for direct escort by escort vessels is decreasing, and this trend is expected to continue. Accordingly, we have decided to revise our posture in replacing the dispatched units starting from this month. At the National Security Council meeting held before the Cabinet meeting and at the Cabinet meeting today, the authorization of the Prime Minister pertaining to counter-piracy operations was approved. Pursuant to this approval, counter-piracy operations will be conducted using one escort vessel and two patrol aircraft in the next year. Ensuring the safety of maritime transport is essential for the peace and prosperity of the international community. The Government will continue to fulfill this important responsibility.   

Q&As

REPORTER: In the Republic of Korea (ROK), an acquaintance of the President was taken into custody. This has further intensified the criticisms against the President. What is the Government’s assessment of this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, this matter pertains to the internal affairs of the ROK, and therefore, the Government of Japan would like to refrain from making comments.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Will this not affect Japan’s coordination with the ROK for the execution of the agreement regarding the comfort women issue and responses to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, this matter pertains to the internal affairs of the ROK, and therefore, the Japanese Government would like to refrain from making comments. However, in any case, it is extremely important that both Japan and the ROK take responsibility to implement the agreement. We will coordinate closely with the ROK Government for the steady implementation of the agreement.

REPORTER: A related question. Some ROK media outlets are noting that it is unclear whether the Japan-China-ROK trilateral summit meeting scheduled at the end of the year can be realized. What is your view regarding the impact on the arrangements of this meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We perceive that there will not be any impacts.

REPORTER: Some media outlets reported that China has built a new drilling facility in a gas field in the East China Sea. Is this true? In addition, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida stated at his press conference that this was not a new drilling facility but a mobile drilling vessel. Can you please tell us if this is true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, we have confirmed that China has put a mobile drilling vessel into waters on the Chinese side of the Japan-China equidistance line in the East China Sea and that it is conducting some sort of operation. The Japan Coast Guard has issued a navigation warning on October 28 to ensure the safety of vessels sailing in nearby waters. It is extremely regrettable that China continues to engage in acts aimed at unilateral development in relevant waters when the sea boundary between Japan and China in the East China Sea remains undemarcated, despite our numerous requests. Japan immediately lodged protests with China through diplomatic channels.  

REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question. What is the reason for lodging protests with China? Is it because such acts could lead to new development?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, the boundary is still undemarcated. Japan lodged protests over the continuation of such acts aimed at unilateral development in these waters.

REPORTER: A related question. Time and again the Japanese Government has lodged repeated protests over this gas field development. What is your assessment of the posture of China which has not ceased to carry out actions that could create a fait accompli?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Every time we became aware of these moves by China, we have urged China to suspend unilateral development activities and attempts to create a fait accompli. The Government will continue to urge China to swiftly resume talks in accordance with the 2008 agreement regarding Japan-China cooperation on natural resource development in the East China Sea and to realize this agreement while closely following the moves of China.

REPORTER: Has China responded in any way to Japan’s latest protests?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: China refuted our protests based on its assertions. However, this is a diplomatic matter, and I would like to refrain from discussing the details.

REPORTER: I understand that a Japanese freelance journalist was detained by authorities near Mosul in Iraq. Can you tell us what the Government is aware of?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We understand that Mr. Tsuneoka is currently being detained by Kurdish regional authorities. The Government is taking necessary actions from the standpoint of protecting a Japanese national. In any case, an evacuation advisory and a travel ban advisory are in place for Iraq, and we would like to ask Japanese nationals to refrain from traveling to these regions for any reason.  

REPORTER: I have a related question. Has the Government been able to confirm with the authorities the reason for the detainment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Japan is currently taking necessary actions with the Kurdish regional authorities, including submitting a request for consular contact from the Embassy of Japan in Iraq. The Japanese Embassy in Iraq is requesting local authorities to give proper treatment to Mr. Tsuneoka. The local authorities are in the midst of their investigation, and they are currently confirming the exact charges. 


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