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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 18, 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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

(Abridged)

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prior to the Cabinet meeting today, the Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures Against Crime was held, at which the current state of and countermeasures in response to international terrorism were reported. Given that Japan will be hosting the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Prime Minister requested ministers to ensure the implementation of the items covered in the basic security strategy, and strengthen a wide range of efforts, including information collection and analysis and border measures, which will constitute key counter-terrorism measures. The Prime Minister also instructed ministers to work towards the passing of the bill concerning Tero-to-Junbi-Zai (the offence to criminalize an act in furtherance of planning to commit terrorism and other serious crimes) that is currently being deliberated. In addition, in the meeting the basic plan for countermeasures against the sexual exploitation of children and related issues was approved, and efforts related to the prevention of repeated offences and the status of anti-crime measures were reported.

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the visit to Japan by Vice President Pence of the United States. The Vice President is scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister and hold the first Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister Aso. Can I ask what outcomes the Government is expecting from these meetings?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: During his visit to Japan, Vice President Pence will engage in the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister Aso and also exchange views with Prime Minister Abe. I expect these talks to deepen the Japan-U.S. relationship, including in economic and security areas. In particular, with regard to North Korea, we will 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. In addition, we will also reaffirm that Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate closely in strongly urging North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and comply with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: I have a related question. With regard to the first Economic Dialogue meeting, what is the Government's outlook regarding the possibility that the United States will request bilateral trade negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Economic Dialogue has yet to take place I would like to refrain from speculating on what will be discussed.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to North Korea. Yesterday, in a press conference in Pyongyang Mr. Song Il Ho, North Korean Ambassador responsible for negotiations on the normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea, stated that the Special Investigation Committee that was formed to investigate about the abductees and others has been disbanded and it is an issue in which no one is interested. What is the Government of Japan's reaction to such comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the press reports on this matter, but I would like to refrain from addressing individual comments. Based on Japan's approach, we will continue to strongly urge North Korea to fulfill the Stockholm Agreement and make every effort to realize the return of all Japanese abductees as soon as possible under the policy of "dialogue and pressure" and "action for action."

REPORTER: A related question. I understand that you would like to refrain from addressing individual comments. However, in the same press conference, in connection with Japan-North Korea relations, Ambassador Song Il Ho indicated that if Japan were to lift its own sanctions against North Korea then North Korea would take this as demonstrating that Japan has effected a policy change. He thus expressed the view that there is room for dialogue if Japan lifts its own sanctions against North Korea. Can I ask for your views on such an idea and his comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan's basis policy is indeed "dialogue and pressure" and "action for action," in addition to which we will continue to cooperate with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), as well as China and Russia, to urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and comply with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. While steadily making these demands to North Korea, we are making every endeavor to strongly urge North Korea to fulfill the Stockholm Agreement with regard to the abductions and realize the return to Japan of all abductees.

REPORTER: I have just one more related question. Ambassador Song Il Ho indicated that as part of efforts to return Japanese nationals in North Korea to Japan, from a humanitarian perspective North Korea would be willing to deal with the issue of Japanese nationals who were left in North Korea after the end of the war and have still not returned to Japan. With North Korea showing signs of seeking dialogue with Japan, does the Government consider it necessary at this stage to engage in dialogue with North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think that I should respond to a question that is based on media reports. However, if I were to add anything further, it would be to note that the Government recognizes that the issue of Japanese nationals who were left in North Korea is an issue that should be dealt with from a humanitarian perspective. The Government continues to make maximum efforts to resolve all outstanding issues relating to Japanese nationals, based on the Stockholm Agreement. In any event, the abduction issue is a critical issue concerning the sovereignty of Japan and the lives and safety of Japanese citizens and is therefore an issue that the Abe administration continues to accord top priority. In this context, based on the existing policy of "dialogue and pressure" and "action for action," the Government will continue to strongly urge that North Korea fulfils the Stockholm Agreement and make efforts to realize the return to Japan of all abductees as soon as possible.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. I have a question concerning the Isahaya Bay court case. Some media have reported that the Government has decided not to appeal the recent ruling handed down by the Nagasaki District Court that places an injunction on the opening of the sluice gates on the sea dike that is part of the Government's land reclamation and drainage scheme in Isahaya Bay. Could you tell us the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The relevant ministries and agencies are currently at the stage of studying the details of the recent court ruling. It is not the case, therefore, that the Government has decided not to appeal the ruling.

(Abridged)

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