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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 17, 2017 (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 have a question about the National Security Council (NSC) meeting that was held this afternoon. I understand that opinions were exchanged about the situation in North Korea. Could you tell us about any details that were confirmed in the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the four ministers' meeting of the NSC today, we discussed the situation in North Korea, among other matters. Although I would like to refrain from explaining the details of discussions in the NSC, the following points were covered in today's meeting. Based on the recent launch of a ballistic missile, the meeting combined and analyzed information from the ministries and agencies concerned with regard to the latest developments in North Korea and signs of provocative actions. Based on that analysis, we discussed the policy for Japan's response. In addition, the meeting reconfirmed that in preparation for further provocative actions by North Korea, the Government will continue to collect information, and engage in monitoring and surveillance, as well as making every effort to ensure the safety and security of the public.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In a meeting of the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration of the House of Representatives today, Prime Minister Abe indicated that the Government is considering response measures for a scenario in which Japanese nationals on the Korean Peninsula require protection. Was this something that was also discussed in the NSC meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from saying anything further than the points I have already noted.

REPORTER: The NSC meeting today engaged in analysis of signs of provocative actions by North Korea. Is it the Government's view that there is a high possibility of North Korea engaging in further provocations in the near future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to state clearly that the Government is constantly engaged in efforts to collect and analyze information concerning North Korea and to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to Okinawa. You have recently had a meeting with Mayor Sakima of Ginowan City, where Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma is located, and I believe the mayor submitted a request concerning the use of the land on which the West Futenma Housing Area was formerly situated. Could you tell us how you responded to the mayor's request?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you have just noted, Mayor Sakima submitted a request for assistance towards the realization of the international medical center initiative that has been planned for the land formerly occupied by the West Futenma Housing Area. I responded that the Government will provide comprehensive support for this initiative.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Mayor Sakima has consistently sought the swift return of MCAS Futenma. Did you discuss the status of progress at Henoko, where shore protection work is scheduled to begin shortly?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We did not discuss that topic at all.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of North Korea. You have noted that North Korea was discussed in the NSC meeting. With Vice President Pence scheduled to arrive in Japan tomorrow, what exchanges of opinions is the Government envisaging with the Vice President with regard to the North Korean situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding North Korea, it will be important to share our recognition that North Korea's nuclear and missile development has reached a new threat level, communicate Japan's view to strengthen the response in dealing with the North Korean issue, and firmly coordinate policy between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In the Republic of Korea (ROK) today Vice President Pence stated that the U.S.-ROK alliance is strong. How is the Government intending to position the meeting scheduled between Prime Minister Abe and Vice President Pence tomorrow, and what message are you seeking to send to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think that the meeting will cover the points I have just mentioned, namely that North Korea's nuclear and missile development has reached a new threat level and that Japan and the United States will firmly coordinate policy on North Korea. It will also reaffirm that Japan and the United States will continue to strongly urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and comply fully with all United Nations Security Council resolutions.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue, which is scheduled to start tomorrow between Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence. I understand that the meeting will discuss three areas, including economic policies and trade rules. Could you tell us how the Government will approach the meeting and what outcomes are expected?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the upcoming Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue was proposed by Japan as a means of deepening dialogue and cooperation in order to dramatically enhance Japan-U.S. economic relations, and in order for Japan and the United States to lead the robust growth of the Asia-Pacific region and the world and it was decided that it will be led by Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence. By further deepening and developing Japan-U.S. economic relations and aiming to realize dynamic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region we intend to demonstrate that in economic aspects too, the Japan-U.S. alliance is unwavering.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the work by the central government to drain land in Isahaya Bay in Nagasaki Prefecture. In a court case between the farmers in the reclaimed land area and the central government that sought an injunction on the opening of the sluice gates of the sea dike, Nagasaki District Court has today issued an injunction preventing the opening of the sluice gates. Can I ask for a comment from the Government on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The court has issued its ruling and the relevant ministries and agencies are analyzing it in detail. The Government will then address the issue as appropriate. The analysis is still underway.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In the recent court case the Government proposed a settlement in which a fund amounting to approximately 10 billion yen would be established for the purpose of improving the fishing grounds in the Ariake Sea, but ultimately an agreement could not be reached. What measures does the Government think will be necessary to achieve a breakthrough in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted the relevant ministries and agencies are currently analyzing the case as a whole, so I would like to refrain from making any comment about the Government's future response.

REPORTER: I have a question about peacekeeping operations (PKO) in South Sudan. Today the first engineering unit of the Ground Self Defense Force (GSDF) will withdraw from South Sudan. Can I ask for a comment from the Government about the withdrawal and also ask about the status of considerations on candidate locations for the dispatch of PKO units in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Looking to the future, under the banner of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" and based on the results of activities implemented to date, we seek to utilize Japan's strengths to enhance capacity-building assistance and make a further contribution in international peace cooperation, including the deployment of units and individuals. At the current time no concrete decisions have been made and no deployments are currently being planned.

REPORTER: If I may, I would like to ask a question concerning the rising tensions relating to North Korea. If you look on Google Maps you will see many high-rise buildings in central Pyongyang, but only the parts of the buildings facing the main streets have been constructed. It has been noted that although these buildings look functional in images broadcast by invited foreign press, they are merely nothing but a facade. Could I ask the Government's view on this matter? Also, in a similar vein, some people have expressed skepticism about the new type of intercontinental ballistic missiles that were displayed in the military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, leading to an optimistic view that the missiles may be merely mock-ups. Could I ask for a comment on this point too?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is currently at the stage of collecting and analyzing information in cooperation with other countries concerned and I would like to refrain from saying anything more.

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