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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 20, 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 regarding House of Representatives member Toshinao Nakagawa. Mr. Nakagawa of the Liberal Democratic Party resigned from the post of Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry because of a scandal involving a woman, and opposition parties are demanding an explanation from Mr. Nakagawa himself, which is affecting the schedule of deliberations in the Diet. Do you consider that Mr. Nakagawa has a responsibility to explain about this matter himself?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the operation of the Diet is a matter for the Diet itself to determine, and therefore, I would like to refrain from commenting on this matter. Speaking in general terms, I would imagine that former Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Nakagawa will provide an explanation, as part of his responsibilities as a politician.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. I have a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. It has been reported in the press that the Government has decided to aim for the entry into force of the TPP Agreement among the 11 remaining members, without the United States. In a press conference given during his visit to Japan, Vice President Pence stated that the TPP is "a thing of the past for the United States." Has the Government confirmed that the TPP Agreement would enter into force among the 11 remaining members?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan's stance with regard to the TPP is to maintain and harness the unifying force and work closely with other partners as we take a leading role in the discussions to determine the best way forward, without excluding any of the options available. This stance was made clear at the TPP ministerial meeting held in Chile in March. I have been briefed that another ministerial meeting relating to the TPP is scheduled to coincide with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting in May, where further discussions will be held on the way forward. The ministers from the respective countries will engage in discussions on what can be done to realize the high-level rules that have been agreed under the TPP.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Among the 11 remaining countries, Malaysia is asserting that it would be pointless to put the TPP into force without the participation of the United States. Does the Government of Japan consider that significant economic benefits can be reaped from the TPP even if it were implemented without the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have just stated Japan's basic stance, which is to take a leading role in the discussions to determine the best way forward, without excluding any of the options available. I would like to refrain from speculating about the contents of discussions and the conclusions that will be reached.

REPORTER: A related question. In his press conference during his visit to Japan, Vice President Pence expressed a desire to enter into bilateral trade negotiations with Japan. What will be the Japanese Government's approach to this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as this is a hypothetical question I would like to refrain from making any comment. I am aware that in the recent Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue there was no specific mention of a free trade agreement (FTA). The United States has indicated that it seeks to focus on bilateral trade and investment relations. In the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue, we hope to have constructive discussions on these matters as well, including about what kind of frameworks would work best for the economies of Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: I have a question in connection with the TPP. You have just noted that the TPP ministerial meeting in May will discuss the way forward. On the other hand, in a speech given in New York, Deputy Prime Minister Aso stated that the ministerial meeting held in May is expected to discuss the entry into force of the TPP Agreement among the remaining signatory nations. Is it the Government's understanding that discussions at the upcoming ministerial meeting will go as far as to engage in discussions on putting the TPP into effect?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the 11 countries achieved agreement on the TPP after much debate and a great deal of time being spent. Given the time and effort expended to date it is only natural that the countries concerned should seek to continue discussions on what can be done to realize the high-level rules that have been agreed.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Speaking of the future, if the TPP were to enter into force among the 11 countries, without the United States, does the Government hope to make this a catalyst for bringing back the United States as a party to the agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the discussion will take place in May, I would like to refrain from speculating about its contents and the conclusions that will be reached.

REPORTER: You stated that there will be discussions in May. I believe that to date the stance of the Government of Japan has been to continue to explain and seek to persuade the United States of the significance of the TPP. Will that stance remain unchanged?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There will be no change in our efforts to persist in providing explanations.

REPORTER: I believe that a meeting of the economy-related ministers was held on April 13. Was the TPP discussed in that forum?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The TPP was not discussed in that meeting.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Cabinet Secretariat's Civil Protection Portal Site. It has been reported that in response to the recent heightened tensions concerning the situation in North Korea there has been an upsurge in the number of people accessing the site recently. How does the Government view the fact that the people are increasingly conscious about what to do in emergency situations? Also, could you tell us how the Government intends to increase public awareness about what to do in emergency situations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is indeed true that the number of visits to the portal site has rapidly increased recently. To date the Government has used the Cabinet Secretariat's Civil Protection Portal Site to provide information to the public about what actions to take in the event of an armed attack or act of terrorism. Furthermore, in October last year information was added to the portal site about how information would be provided through the national early warning system (J-ALERT) and other points to note in a scenario in which a ballistic missile is thought to be flying in the direction of Japan. Given that the threat posed by North Korea has entered a new stage and that the number of people accessing the Civil Protection Portal Site has risen rapidly, the Government will make efforts to further enhance the contents of the site and provide further information in order to further promote greater understanding among the people of Japan. In addition, we will continue to cooperate with local governments in raising awareness among the public in order to help local governments to send out information to the people.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a related question. Is it the Government's view that a nuclear test could be conducted at any time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government's greatest duty is to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan. In this regard, we continue to work closely with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in maintaining an advanced surveillance and monitoring structure in response to North Korea. We are taking all possible measures to be able to respond to any situation.

REPORTER: In a press conference U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson has indicated that the United States will consider re-designating North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. How does the Government of Japan assess these moves being taken by the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, this is a matter that concerns the United States and ultimately a decision will be made by the United States. The Government of Japan will continue to cooperate closely with the United States and maintain communication links. Based on the principles of "dialogue and pressure" and "action for action" towards North Korea the Government will continue to deal with North Korea by considering what means would be most effective to achieve a comprehensive resolution to all outstanding issues of concern.

REPORTER: In comparison to previous U.S. administrations the Trump administration is seen as taking a hardline stance on North Korea. Does the Government consider that this pressure is currently producing some outcomes in terms of helping to hinder provocative actions by North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, given the severe regional security environment, particularly with regard to North Korea, it is critically important that we ensure the maintenance of the U.S. deterrent. From this perspective the Government of Japan values the fact that the United States is seeking to deal with this issue based on a concept of keeping all options on the table. We will continue to work closely with the United States, the ROK, and other relevant countries while maintaining a structure to fully protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan.

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