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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 30, 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: Yesterday President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea (ROK) announced her intention to resign. Although the timing of the resignation is as yet unclear, can I ask for the thoughts of the Government with regard to this matter and what you think will be the impact on Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this is a matter that concerns domestic politics in the ROK I do not think that I should make any comment from a Government standpoint.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Government is currently making preparations for the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting scheduled to take place next month. Following the resignation announcement, has the Government received any communication from the Government of the ROK about its intentions regarding the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My response to your question is the same as my previous response; as this is a matter that concerns domestic politics in the ROK I do not think that I should make any comment from a Government standpoint. What I would say is that as Japan is acting as the chair of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting this year, there is no change to our policy of making arrangements to hold the meeting before the end of the year.

REPORTER: I have a further question. Given the deteriorating situation with regard to North Korea, some people have expressed security-related concerns about the domestic political turmoil in the ROK. What are the thoughts of the Government of Japan on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event there is absolutely no change to our policy of continuing to cooperate closely with the ROK in such matters and the response structure is still firmly in place.

REPORTER: I have a further question. Under the administration of President Park, great advances have been accomplished in Japan-ROK relations, including the agreement on the comfort women issue, and the conclusion of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). As the President’s power gradually recedes, what impact do you think this will have on the recent steady improvements in Japan-ROK relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As these are items agreed on between national governments it is of the utmost importance for both countries to move to implement the contents of such agreements in good faith. I would like to refrain from commenting further.

REPORTER: I have another question. With the Park administration now having become a lame duck, I would have thought that even if the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting were to be held it would be unlikely to result in fruitful discussions. Does the Government not have such concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In August this year the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held. At this meeting the ministers confirmed their intention to promote trilateral cooperation in various fields, including disaster management, the environment, youth exchange and the economy, and it was decided that the summit meeting would be held in Japan in December. As the chair of this year’s summit I believe it is Japan’s role to coordinate thorough preparations among the three countries to ensure that the summit is a significant one that produces outcomes.

REPORTER: I have one more related question. Following the announcement of the resignation of President Park, there are some doubts about the implementation of the contents of the agreement reached at the end of last year on the comfort women issue, in particular whether the Park administration will be able to exert the political will to implement the removal and relocation of the comfort women statue currently in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Will the Government be making any requests to the Government of the ROK in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From Japan’s perspective it is of the utmost importance that the details of the agreement reached at the end of last year are implemented by both sides in good faith.

REPORTER: I have a question about the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor. Today the third round of interviews with experts has concluded, so can I ask for the thoughts of the Government on the interviews held to date?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today I believe that the third round of interviews was held, following which the expert members of the Advisory Council will be engaging in discussions. I believe that it is important for the Government to follow this process.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In this third round of interviews, opinions have been heard from constitutional experts. In responding to the comments made by His Majesty, I believe that one of the main issues will be how to ensure consistency with the position of the Emperor as stipulated in the Constitution. How does the Government intend to respond to ensure adherence to the stipulations of the Constitution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, interviews have been held with constitutional experts and I believe that the Advisory Council will engage in discussions on the basis of those interviews. I would therefore like to refrain from making any speculative responses at this time.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Secretary General of The Democratic Party (DP), stated in a press conference on November 28 that once the conclusions of the Advisory Council have been compiled and before a draft bill is submitted to the Diet, it will be necessary to arrange inter-party consultations on this matter, the natural timing for which would be before the end of the year. What are the Government’s thoughts on the possibility of inter-party consultations before the end of the year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I am not aware of the details of Mr. Noda’s comments, I would like to refrain from making any comment. If I were to say anything more it would be to add that the Government formed the Advisory Council for the purpose of engaging in discussions without prejudice about easing the burden of the official duties and public activities of His Majesty and it is to that end that interviews with various experts are currently taking place. Once the discussions of the Advisory Council have reached a certain stage the Government will then move forward to engage in discussions among ruling and opposition parties.

REPORTER: I have a further question. In your responses to the Diet you noted that early in the New Year, once a direction has been identified concerning how to take this matter forward, the Government wishes to share this direction with the Diet. Can we assume therefore that there is no change to the Government’s intention of engaging in inter-party consultations from early in the New Year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing has yet been decided on a specific method of proceeding with this matter. However, for example, in consultation with the chair and vice-chair of the Advisory Council the advancement of discussions in the Diet would be one possibility.

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