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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 19, 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: Today, a presentation will be made to Prime Minister Abe on plans for a new division of electoral districts for the House of Representatives in the Diet. Approximately 100 districts will be subject to the new plans. While I believe it will require some time for the new district divisions to become widely known, will this have any effect on a decision to dissolve the House of Representatives?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Generally speaking, the Government has long made it clear that, under the current Public Offices Election Law and other relevant regulations, the Cabinet is not denied the right to dissolve the House of Representatives. I have long stated this to be the case.

REPORTER: In that case, is it possible the House of Representatives could be dissolved even during the period when the electorate is still getting used to the new districts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe it would not be a constraint.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I believe it will require quite some time for people to become accustomed to the names and faces of the candidates in the new districts. In this regard, some have expressed the view that it would only be possible to actually hold an election next year. What is your view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is merely speculation. In any case, it would not be a constraint.

REPORTER: In the past week or so, the world was under the impression that the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was headed towards North Korea and applying extreme pressure. The U.S. Navy, however, has made an announcement that the USS Carl Vinson was not actually headed towards North Korea. Please share the Japanese Government's reaction. The reactions in some Asian countries also suggest that their trust in President Trump's words is wavering. 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this is a matter related to the operation of the U.S. Navy, I would like to refrain from making a comment on behalf of the Japanese Government. However, in any case, as the security environment in the region continues to grow increasingly severe, the Government considers it vital to ensure the deterrence capacity of the United States. From that viewpoint, the Government believes that the United States is keeping all options on the table. We will continue to further strengthen the deterrence and response capacity of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

REPORTER: Does that mean you continue to trust the words of the President?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and the United States are continuing to maintain close communication and mutual understanding.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. Today, the first members of the engineering unit of the Ground Self-Defense Forces deployed to South Sudan to participate in peacekeeping operations (PKOs) has returned to Japan. I believe their withdrawal marks the close of the current phase of activity, which continued for over five years. Could you once again share the Government's perception of the withdrawal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, we are aware that the first members of the unit arrived at Aomori Airport at 11 AM this morning. We will continue carrying out withdrawal operations with a sense of urgency, aiming for the return of the entire unit to Japan by the end of May. The deployment of the engineering unit to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan began in January 2012, and a total of 4,000 personnel have been dispatched over a deployment period exceeding 5 years. This represents the largest scale deployment of the engineering unit in terms of both duration and achievements. In terms of achievements, approximately 210 kilometers of roads were repaired, 500,000 square meters of land were cleared, and 94 facilities were constructed. This is even the largest of Japan's PKO activities to date. It is also a fact that the success of those activities, and the capabilities and discipline of our engineering unit, have been highly evaluated by South Sudan and the rest of the international community. Furthermore, when we explained our policy to end the activities of the engineering unit, President Salva Kiir Mayardit stated that South Sudan highly values the activities of the engineering unit and expressed his appreciation to the Japanese Government. Through these activities, Japan has built up valuable expertise and experience in international PKOs, which we intend to utilize in the future.

REPORTER: I believe it is historic that this unit was also the first to be tasked with "kaketsuke-keigo" (coming to the aid of geographically distant units or personnel under attack) duties under Japan's legislation for peace and security. How do you view the success or significance of this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The troops were deployed with the possibility of "kaketsuke-keigo," in mind, and the necessary training. While not all the troops have returned yet, I believe this is what allowed them to operate with even greater safety.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question related to organized crime groups. In order to be deemed an organized crime group, does the group need to have the goal of committing crime from the very beginning? Does the group need to have the goal of committing crime in principle? Also, could a simple religious group be deemed an organized crime group, if it is recognized as having undergone a drastic change in its nature, such as Aum Shinrikyo? Please once again share the Government's views.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe it is as stated in the legislative deliberations. That is all there is to it.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the Cabinet Office website. The Asahi Shimbun claims that a report prepared by a governmental expert committee on lessons learned from past disasters was the subject of many complaints for making reference to the mass killing of Koreans after the Great Kanto Earthquake, and that it has since been deleted from the Cabinet Office website. At midday, the Cabinet Office denied this, saying it was not true. What does the Government perceive to be the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Cabinet Office website is currently being renovated, and therefore cannot be viewed at the moment. I have been told that once work is complete, the report you have mentioned will be available.

REPORTER: There is some difference between the Government's explanation and the article by Asahi Shimbun. Are you considering lodging a protest?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As a representative of the Government, I would like to refrain from commenting on the contents of individual news articles. The website is currently under renovation, and the Government will make the report visible once the renovation is complete.

REPORTER: If I may confirm, does that mean that the Government does not view the actual statements in the report, which describe the mass killing of Koreans after the Great Kanto Earthquake, to be a problem?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not consider there to be any problem with the existing content of the website.

(Abridged)

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