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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 12, 2017 (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: I have a question concerning the explosion that has occurred in Germany, which is believed to have targeted a soccer team in Dortmund, of which a Japanese soccer player is a member. Could you tell us any information that the Government of Japan is aware of and your views concerning this explosion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that in the early hours of today, April 12 (Japan time), a series of three explosions occurred in the vicinity of a bus carrying the players and other members of a soccer team in Dortmund, Germany, causing injuries to some people. At this point in time the Government does not have any information to suggest that Japanese nationals were injured in these explosions. I have received a report that local authorities are currently investigating the incident.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: According to some media reports, in consultations between Japanese and U.S. senior officials this month, a senior official from the U.S. State Department stated that with regard to North Korea there are only two options—either China steps up its pressure on North Korea or the United States engages in a military strike—that it is one or the other. Could you tell us if there is any truth to such reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted there is absolutely no truth to these reports. I would like to make it very clear that the Government denies their veracity.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I believe that the Government is focusing its efforts particularly on crisis management, so in anticipation of a scenario in which there were to be military action in North Korea, what preparations is the Government making, including, for example, measures to protect Japanese nationals in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and also in terms of a domestic response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly giving maximum attention to the situation in North Korea. Against this backdrop, we consider that the greatest duty of the Government is to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan. As I have stated previously, the Government is constantly engaged in considerations and making the necessary preparations for a scenario in which it may be necessary to protect or evacuate Japanese nationals on the Korean Peninsula. In any case, while continuing to work closely with the United States and the ROK, we are maintaining an advanced surveillance and monitoring structure in order to protect the lives and assets of the people of Japan, including Japanese nationals in the ROK, and are taking all measures to be able to respond to any situation.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Yesterday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued safety information for travelers to the ROK, urging them to stay on alert. In connection with the previous discussion, could you tell us the reason why this safety information was issued at this timing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The situation is not one that will have an immediate impact on the safety of Japanese nationals, and no emergency information has been issued for the ROK. On the other hand, however, as North Korea has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and missile launches and especially now is strengthening its criticism of the joint military exercises being conducted by the United States and the ROK, the ministry has received multiple requests for information from Japanese people who are planning to travel to or are residing in the ROK. It was based on this situation that although at the present time there is no need for people to postpone travel to the ROK or curtail their stay or residency there, while the ministry has been requesting that people remain on alert for information from before, the ministry is once again calling on people to register their travel plans with "Tabi-Regi" (Overseas Travel Registration) or register their contact information by completing an overseas residence registration.

REPORTER: If that is the case, can we assume that the Government does not consider that tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The information issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not in response to any particular situation. As I have just explained, the information has been issued because the ministry has received multiple requests for information from Japanese people who are planning to travel to or are residing in the ROK, following North Korea's intensified criticism of the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises.

REPORTER: I have a related question. According to Korean Central Television (KCTV), yesterday the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea was held at which the previously defunct Diplomatic Commission has been revived, with Ri Su-yong, vice-chairman of the Central Commission being appointed as its chairman. I sense that this could be a move by North Korea to develop diplomatic efforts to break out of its current isolation. What is the Government's analysis of this development?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally the Government is aware that in North Korea the Supreme People's Assembly has been convened, where various reports and decisions have been made, including the selection of members of the Diplomatic Commission, as well as about personnel matters and the budget. The Government is steadily collecting and analyzing information relating to the situation in North Korea with great interest, including the impact this latest decision could have on developments in North Korea.

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. I believe that you have received a visit from the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka a short while ago. Could you tell us in what capacity you received the Prime Minister and what you discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I received a courtesy call from the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. I noted that Japan and Sri Lanka have historically shared friendly relations and that Japan attaches utmost importance to its relationship with Sri Lanka, which is situated in a strategic point on the sea lanes. I noted that in particular it is important to secure free and open seas and an economic order, and that Japan's Quality Infrastructure would enable sustainable growth in Sri Lanka.

REPORTER: I have a related question. What comments did Prime Minister Wickremesinghe make?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Wickremesinghe concurred with Japan completely and stated that he seeks to cooperate with Japan to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question on a different subject. The United States Government Accountability Office has released a report on the realignment of the U.S. Marine Corps in the Asia-Pacific, in which it is noted that the proposed runway at Henoko, where Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture is planned to be relocated, will be too short for certain aircraft. The office is requesting that alternative runways be found within Okinawa Prefecture. What is the Government's view of these observations by a U.S. Government office?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I am not aware of the contents of the U.S. report. As this is a matter for discussion within the United States it is not an issue on which the Government should comment. If I were to add anything further, it would be to note that the Government of Japan is proceeding with construction on the replacement facility for MCAS Futenma in accordance with the agreement that was reached between the Japanese and U.S. Governments. The Government will continue to advance work related to relocation to Henoko, giving due consideration to safety of the work and giving considerations to the local living environment and natural environment.

REPORTER: A related question. I understand that you are unaware of the points made in the U.S. report, but is there any possibility that the Government could revise the current plan for Henoko in order to enable its use for certain aircraft?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has no intention whatsoever of revising the current plan.

REPORTER: Returning to the topic of North Korea, can I ask if the Government of Japan would express support for the United States if it were to launch a preemptive strike on North Korea? A proposal was recently submitted by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) concerning Japan acquiring its own strike capability against adversary bases, so can I ask how the Government will respond to this proposal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from responding to a question about a hypothetical situation. In any event, the Government of Japan will continue to work closely with the United States and the ROK in steadily responding to issues relating to North Korea. With regard to the question about a capability to strike adversary bases, as the Government's most important role is to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan in any situation, the Government will engage in various considerations of the proposal submitted by the LDP and other matters towards comprehensively reinforcing Japan's ballistic missile response capability.

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