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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 13, 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 would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. In interviews with the Yomiuri Shimbun and others, President Putin of the Russian Federation indicated he was seeking a complete normalization of relations with Japan. He also expressed that the continuing state of not having a peace treaty is an anachronism. While I think this can be considered a positive message prior to President Putin’s visit to Japan, I would like to hear the reaction of the Japanese Government, and what result you would like to achieve in the upcoming summit meeting.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: To start, while I am aware of President Putin’s statements, I would like to refrain from making any comments from the position of the Government immediately prior to the summit meeting. If I was to make a comment beyond that, I would say that in regard to the summit meeting the leaders of both countries are in agreement on the recognition that the condition of Japan and Russia, neighboring countries, to not have a peace treaty even today 70 years after the conclusion of the war is an unnatural situation. In regard to the Japan-Russia summit meeting to be held this week, I believe the leaders will have deliberate, frank discussions built upon the relationship of trust created until now in a quiet environment regarding territorial issues and the future of Japan-Russia relations.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In the same interview, Mr. Putin pointed out that an agreement should be made on the conditions for the conclusion of a peace treaty made upon a foundation of trust. As concrete examples, he raised examples such as large-scale joint economic activities and the expansion of people-to-people exchanges in the Northern Territories. Does the Japanese Government consider agreement to joint economic activities and the expansion of people-to-people exchanges a way to progress the negotiations for a peace treaty?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: I would like to refrain from making conjecture about the contents of the discussion between the leaders prior to the summit meeting. But in any case, in regard to joint economic activities within the four islands of the Northern Territories, as stated until now, there is no change to the absolute precondition that there will be no harm to Japan’s legal standing.

REPORTER: Finally, I have one more question. Within the same interview, regarding Japan’s sanctions against Russia, Mr. Putin questioned how the economic environment could be developed to an even higher level while Russia was under sanctions, and indicated his perception that Japan’s sanctions against Russia were an impediment to economic cooperation. Is a review of the sanctions against Russia a possible option in the upcoming negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: In regard to Japan’s measures against Russia, there is no change to our stance that we will continue to take appropriate measures with an emphasis on G7 solidarity while incorporating the circumstances going forward.

REPORTER: Regarding the sanctions against Russia, the current sanctions were implemented after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in March 2014. Do you consider there will be no change in the sanctions as long as the Crimea situation remains unchanged?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: As I just stated, Japan will continue to take appropriate measures with an emphasis on G7 solidarity while incorporating future circumstances.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Despite signing the Irkutsk Statement in 2001 which recognized the existence of the territorial issue, within the interview for the first time President Putin retreated from that position in a public setting and stated that no territorial issue exists. What are your thoughts regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: Considering it is directly prior to the actual summit, I would like to refrain from making statements that speculate on the contents of the upcoming discussions.

REPORTER: I have a related question. President Putin also stated that the progress of the upcoming peace treaty negotiations, including the territorial issue, would be up to Japan’s flexibility. From the position of the Japanese Government now facing negotiations, what are your thoughts on the necessity of being flexible and not adhering to Japan’s positions held through the current day?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: Japan’s position on this matter is unequivocal, and there is no change in the fundamental roadmap that the issue of the attribution of the four islands of the Northern Territories will be resolved and then a peace treaty will be concluded.

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. On Twitter, President-elect Trump of America criticized the F-35 aircraft program and its cost as being out of control. He further stated that savings could be made in military expenses and military purchasing expenses after he is inaugurated. Japan has a plan to purchase F-35 aircraft, and firms within the country are taking part in the F-35’s production. What impact do you think President-elect Trump’s statements will have within Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: First of all, I am aware those statements have been made. However, President-elect Trump has not yet been inaugurated, and the Government wishes to refrain from making comments on individual, practical statements one by one. In that light, in order for the Government to fully secure Japan’s air defense, there is no change in our intention to continue reliably purchasing F-35 aircraft, which possesses superlative features such as high stealth capabilities and offer outstanding performance, and continue working closely with the U.S. side.


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