Friday, February 17, 2017 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
REPORTER: I would like to ask about the Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) foreign ministers’ meeting held in Bonn, Germany. It is said the killing of Mr. Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia was talked about in the meeting. What sort of discussions took place?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, in the early morning of the 17th today, a Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting was held in Germany, and after the meeting a joint statement was issued. In light of North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on the 12th and the killing of Mr. Kim Jong-nam, the majority of the meeting was devoted to discussing the North Korea issue. Foreign Minister Kishida emphasized that Japan, the U.S., and the ROK must join together to present a resolute front in response to the nuclear weapon and missile issues of North Korea, while leading the response of the international community. The foreign ministers of Japan, the U.S., and the ROK agreed to close cooperation among the three countries, and to strongly demand North Korea refrain from provocative acts and that it strictly fulfill the United Nations Security Council resolutions. Furthermore, in regard to the abduction issue, Foreign Minister Kishida requested the understanding and cooperation of the U.S. and the ROK, and gained the support of both countries.
REPORTER: I have a related question. A Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting is arranged for this evening in Germany. What issues are you expecting progress on, such as the issue of the comfort woman statues?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, the issues that involve our two countries, including the comfort women issue, will be discussed at the Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting on the 17th. In regard to the concrete contents of those discussions, I would like to refrain from making a comment based on conjecture.
REPORTER: I would like to ask a further related question. You stated that at the Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting, in response to North Korea’s ballistic missile launch, there was agreement to censure North Korea using the strongest expressions, and to cooperate in increasing the pressure on North Korea. What is the significance of this?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It was a strong display of purpose that Japan, the U.S., and the ROK would firmly cooperate with the implication that North Korea defiantly carrying out provocative acts, despite the repeated UN Security Council resolutions, would not be forgiven by the international community.
REPORTER: I have another related question. The three countries are settled on the points you just mentioned, but what response do you consider necessary in order to have China, North Korea’s largest trading partner, leverage its influence?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The sanctions are being announced as part of a UN Security Council resolution, of which China is a member. We believe carrying out the implementation based on those sanctions is extremely important, and securing their firm implementation through the Sanctions Committee is also extremely important.
REPORTER: I would like to change the topic, and ask about the revision to the crime of making preparations to commit acts of organized crime, including terrorism, which would criminalize the acts of preparation themselves when they happen. There are press reports that the number of applicable crimes has been reduced to 277. What is the current state of the considerations?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, in regard to this legislation, based on the variety of opinions that have been expressed in the deliberations of the Diet, a review of the contents of the bill previously proposed to the Diet has been carried out, and the nature of the bill is under careful consideration. However, in regard to the press reports that the applicable crimes have been reduced to 277, that has not been decided.
REPORTER: I have a related question. In regard to this bill, yesterday the Ministry of Justice expressed its opinion that if an organization that had been engaged in legitimate activities was recognized to have made an about-face to become an organization engaged in criminal activities, punishment would be applicable. In response to this, the opposition party questioned whether this was a contradiction with the view the Government has expressed until now that ordinary citizens would not be targeted. What are the Government’s thoughts on the criticisms made by the opposition party?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think there is absolutely no contradiction. At the board of directors’ meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, the Ministry of Justice expressed its opinion that the concrete contents of the crime of making preparations to commit acts of organized crime, including terrorism was still under consideration, and based on that, in regard to organized crime organizations, using the meaning of an organization which commits crimes with a unified goal was being considered. If an organization which originally engaged in legitimate acts was recognized to have made an about-face to commit crimes with a unified goal, then it would be appropriate to consider it an organized crime organization. That is natural. If an organization has made an about-face to be an organization which commits crimes, then it must be designated so as to protect the safety and peace of mind of our citizens.
REPORTER: I have a related question. In that case, is there no change in the Government’s view that ordinary citizens will not be targeted?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is absolutely no change.