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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 28, 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)

Q&As

Reporter: I have a question about the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting. At the meeting, the leaders exchanged views concerning joint economic activities and the state of affairs in North Korea. How does the Government of Japanevaluate this meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: On April 27, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held his 17th summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow. The leaders held discussions at length and the summit meeting lasted for a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes, with 1 hour and 30 minutes for a small group meeting, 50 minutes for a one-on-one tete-a-tete meeting, and 45 minutes for a working dinner. As for the content, the leaders engaged in very frank and substantial talks. Specifically, with regard to the issue of the conclusion of a peace treaty, the two leaders confirmed concrete progress on matters that were agreed to at the summit meeting in December of last year. As for joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands and enabling smoother visits to the islands by former residents, the two leaders reached an agreement on implementing the following three steps: to realize special grave visits by former residents of the Northern Territories by airplane, to send a joint public and private research team on the joint economic activities to the four islands, and to establish additional entry/exit points when grave visits take place. I believe these are significant results. In addition, the two leaders engaged in a frank exchange of views on international affairs, particularly about the situations in North Korea and Syria, which are issues of pressing concern. With regard to North Korea in particular, Prime Minister Abe encouraged Russia, which bears an important responsibility as a member of the United Nations Security Council and a member of the Six-Party Talks, to play a constructive role. Furthermore, the two leaders agreed that Japan and Russia will cooperate on the problem of North Korea. Additionally, the two leaders agreed that they will meet again on the occasion of the G20 Summit to be held on July 7 in Hamburg, Germany. That concludes my brief account of the summit.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Would you characterize these talks as leading to a solution to the territorial issues?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, as I just said, it was a veryfulfilling summit meeting, lasting a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes, including a 50-minute one-on-one tete-a-tete meeting and a small group meeting. I believe that during the one-on-one meeting the two leaders were able to express their views very openly.

REPORTER: I have a related question on the situation in North Korea. President Putin seems to have drawn a line at increasing the pressure on North Korea, which is the kind of response that Japan and the United States are aiming for. What is the Government's assessment of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In his dialogue with President Putin, the Prime Minister strongly urged Russia, which bears an important responsibility as a member of the United Nations Security Council and a member of the Six-Party Talks, to play a constructive role. President Putin expressed concern over North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons tests. Both leaders agreed that Japan and Russia will work together on the issue of North Korea, including at the United Nations. We will continue to urge Russia to play a constructive role through Japan-Russia cooperation.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about Japan-U.S. relations. Tomorrow, April 29, will be the 100th day of the Trump administration. I believe the Japan-U.S. Alliance has been growing stronger since President Trump's inauguration. How do you perceive the impact of the path taken by the Trump administration thus far, as well as its policies, on Japan-U.S. relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The security situation in the Asia-Pacific is extremely severe. However, the great trust between the two leaders has supported the relationship, and Japan-U.S. ties are more robust than ever before. During his trip to the United States in February, the Prime Minister held thorough discussions for two days with President Trump on a variety of issues. They established a personal relationship of trust and sent the world a clear message that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is unshakeable. Furthermore, the two leaders have already held three telephone talks in April thanks to the strong relationship of trust between them,. Moreover, Vice President Pence visited Japan and engaged in high-level policy coordination on the issue of North Korea, with both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. These developments show that we have built an unmistakably strong Japan-U.S. Alliance, and we will endeavor to make it even stronger.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You said that Japan and the United States are building a strong relationship, but in the future it seems the two countries may face economic issues, such as trade negotiations. In what direction does the  Government want Japan-U.S. relations to proceed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, with regard to the economy, the fact that Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence were able to hold in-depth discussions on how to further deepen bilateral economic ties in a win-win fashion at the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue held on April 18 is highly positive. In the future we hope that Japan and the United States can strongly drive the economic growth both in the Asia-Pacific and worldwide, thereby further enhancing Japan-U.S. relations.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of Japan and Russia. Earlier you mentioned the situation in Syria. Relations between the United States and Russia are deteriorating over the situation in Syria, where Russia has provided backing to the Assad regime. Does the Government believe that, through the recent summit, it was able to encourage Russia to improve ties with the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to the situation in Syria, the Prime Minister stated clearly at the press announcement following the summit that the two leaders held serious and frank discussions. I would like to refrain from discussing the details, but the fact that the two leaders were able to engage in such discussions is highly significant.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the issue of North Korea. U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson revealed that China warned North Korea that it will apply unilateral sanctions if North Korea conducts another nuclear test. What is the Government's reaction to this stance by China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I do not think it is appropriate for the Government to comment on exchanges between two other states. However, with regard to dealing with the issue of North Korea, China has a very important role in the sense that China is a member of the United Nations Security Council, is the Chair of the Six-Party Talks, and accounts for approximately 90% of North Korea's foreign trade. Thus far, Japan has strongly urged China to play a responsible and constructive role at a variety of levels. I have met with Mr. Wu Dawei, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs. We intend to continue strongly urging North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions, while working closely with the relevant countries, namely the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), China, and Russia.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Yesterday you met with Mr. Wu Dawei. Did he give any indication to Japan that China would impose unilateral sanctions or assert that China would impose unilateral sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: China also agrees with the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and China has promised to Security Council members that it will take unilateral sanctions. On this front it is crucial that Japan and China work together even more closely. I have also strongly requested to Special Representative Wu Dawei that China, which has very great influence on North Korea, play a proactive and constructive role.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the placement of a statue concerning wartime forced labor in the ROK. We have learned that an ROK citizens' group is proceeding with plans to place a statue symbolizing forced labor in the ROK under Japan's rule next to the comfort woman statue outside the Embassy of Japan in Seoul. How will the Government will respond to this development?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This development will have a completely undesirable effect on Japan-ROK relations. Moreover, it is highly problematic from the perspective of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We will lodge a strong protest with the ROK through diplomatic channels and urge the ROK to respond appropriately.

REPORTER: This citizens' group argues that the Government of Japan has not apologized or compensated for the forced labor, in which people were treated like slaves. What do you think about this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Issues of property and claims between Japan and the ROK, including the issue of civilians forced into labor, were resolved fully and definitively with the signing of the Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea concerning the Settlement of Problems in regard to Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask a question about the Government's arrangements for crisis management. As we approach an extended holiday period, many Ministers are planning to travel abroad. However, in light of urgent issues such as North Korea, will there be a proper crisis management system in place during the extended holiday period?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government has made all preparations so as to be able to respond to any contingency, including natural disasters and North Korea. This crisis management arrangement applies not only during the Golden Week holidays, but at any time, and we have a thorough liaison system in place for contacting the Prime Minister's Office, the Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary in the event of an emergency. We can be contacted and receive reports promptly under any circumstances. As for the way our personnel are organized, we constantly have a system in place for swiftly contacting relevant ministries and agencies, which is led by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management. The Government is fully prepared for crisis management. I believe that to be a matter of course.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. It has been reported that the Government has revised its basic policy stipulating the nature of research involving the use of fertile human eggs, and will issue national guidelines. Reportedly, modifications to fertilized eggs via genome editing will be recognized as basic research, but delivery of infants gestated from such eggs will be prohibited. Can you provide the facts of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to state that there is absolutely no factual basis to that.

REPORTER: I would like to ask one more related question about the supervision of genome editing research. At a press conference the other day, you stated the opinion that the Government should be involved in a responsible manner. Does the Government intend to consider such matters as the legal issues involved in the supervision of genome editing research in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, upon receiving cooperation from relevant academic societies, the Government intends to responsibly and proactively proceed with considerations pertaining to these fertilized human embryos.

(Abridged)

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