Thursday, February 16, 2017 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
REPORTER: I would like to ask a question about Mr. Kim Jong-nam of North Korea. Progress can be seen in the case, with arrests occurring based on suspected involvement. What is the Japanese Government’s understanding of the facts of the incident?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, ensuring the safety and peace of mind of our citizens is the Government’s top responsibility. Currently, the investigation on this killing is progressing in Malaysia, and no official announcement has been made as to the identity of the deceased and other details. The Government is collecting information and conducting analysis in cooperation with related countries, but based on the nature of the incident, I would like to refrain from making any answer as to the contents of that information or the results of our analysis.
REPORTER: I have a related question. Does that mean the Government has not yet confirmed whether it was Mr. Kim Jong-nam who was killed?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are performing a wide range of intelligence gathering and conducting analysis. However, as the authorities in Malaysia, the country concerned in this incident, have not yet made a clear announcement, the Government would like to refrain from making a comment based on the nature of the incident.
REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. It has been reported that a foreign ministers’ meeting will be held between Japan, the U.S., and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in line with the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting being held in Germany. In the Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting, what discussions does the Japanese Government expect to take place in regard to the missile launch problem of North Korea?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, on February 16th, Foreign Minister Kishida is planning to take the opportunity presented by the G20 Bonn Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to hold a Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se. I believe the meeting will focus on the response to the North Korea issue, which has reached a new level of threat, and discuss the nature of the close cooperation between the three countries.
REPORTER: Do you expect the murder of the man suspected to be Mr. Kim Jong-nam of North Korea, as mentioned earlier, to be discussed at the Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While the concrete details of the meeting between the ROK and Japan are still being arranged and are not yet decided, I expect the meeting between the three countries to focus on discussions regarding the nature of close cooperation in response to the North Korea issue.
REPORTER: I have one more related question. In relation to the ROK, the recall of Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine, Ambassador of Japan to the ROK, is continuing in response to a comfort woman statue being installed in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan. Are there plans for anything to be discussed in the Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting in regard to the installation of this comfort woman statue?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As for the discussions, I believe they will first of all focus on the North Korea issue. Nothing has been concretely decided in regard to other matters.
REPORTER: I would like to ask about the U.S.-Israel summit meeting. In a press conference held after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in regard to Middle East peace negotiations, President Trump stated he had no preference regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution with Israel. He also seemed to display the desire to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Palestine is opposing. This represented a change in the state of policies until now. What is your assessment of this?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware President Trump made those statements. Going forward, the Japanese Government will closely watch the actual policies regarding peace in the Middle East.
REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question. The Palestinian side is seeking to establish an independent state, and they will oppose the president’s statement. There is concern the restart of the Middle East peace negotiations will become even more distant. How do you view the impact to the Middle East situation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated, Japan wishes to closely watch the actual policies of the U.S. in regard to peace in the Middle-East going forward.
REPORTER: I would like to ask one more related question. Japan’s position has supported a two-state solution through to the present. Are there any considerations to change this policy?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan supports the two state solution in which Israel and the future independent Palestinian state can peacefully and securely coexist.
REPORTER: That policy will not change?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It will not change.
REPORTER: I would like to ask about social security. The Yomiuri Shimbun compiled a five-point proposal for giving people involved in childrearing and nursing care a stronger sense of security, which it announced today. The Abe administration has proceeded with a focus on the expansion of support for childrearing and nursing care. Can you please share your evaluation of the recent proposal?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is ahead of the world in facing a society with an aging population and a falling birthrate, combined with a declining population. In that context, we recognize childrearing and nursing care to be extremely important for the lives of our citizens. In these circumstances, we would like to express our respect for the mass media for raising extremely important questions and compiling a comprehensive proposal on a diverse range of issues such as infrastructure and facilities, securing human resources, workstyle reform, and financial resource issues for the improvement of the childrearing and nursing care environment. The Abe administration has positioned itself to squarely face the structural problems of a society with an aging population, falling birthrate, and declining population, halting the trend of the decreasing birthrates and realizing a society with the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens where everyone can freely exercise their capabilities, as the most critical issues of the administration. In June 2016, Japan's Plan for Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens was compiled. I believe the recent proposal shares many points with that plan, such as maintaining childcare and nursing care facilities by leveraging a variety of resources and improving working conditions to secure the necessary childcare and nursing care human resources. The relevant ministries and agencies will continue cooperating to take comprehensive measures to achieve the largest GDP in postwar history of 600 trillion yen, realize the desired birthrate of 1.8 children per woman, and reduce the number of people who leave employment to provide nursing care to zero, and will reference the points of the recent proposal as part of their initiatives.