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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 4, 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)

Prior to the Cabinet meeting today, the seventh meeting of the Headquarters for the Promotion of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games was held. In the meeting, there was a report on the basic security strategy, which compiles basic concepts and measures for ensuring the security of the Games. In addition, having stated, "Now that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in three years, we need to further accelerate preparations in order to make this the world's best Games," Prime Minister Abe noted that ensuring security is a basic premise for the success of the Games and instructed ministers to collaborate closely and share information extensively with the Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and relevant bodies, and take measures through Japan-wide efforts. The Government will continue to work as one toward the success of the Games.

The Government is deeply shocked at the explosion that occurred in the subway in St. Petersburg, Russia yesterday evening, Japan time, killing or injuring many people. This incident is currently being investigated by the Russian authorities, including the possibility that it was a terrorist attack. Such a despicable act cannot be tolerated for any reason, and Japan strongly condemns it. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives in the explosion and their families, and wish those who were injured a speedy recovery. Japan stands in strong solidarity with the people of Russia. Directly following the incident, a local response headquarters was established at our Consulate-General in St. Petersburg, which is continuing to collect information and take all steps necessary to protect Japanese citizens. The Government has not confirmed any injuries to Japanese citizens at this point. Japan will continue to engage in active measures to combat terrorism in close cooperation with the international community, including Russia.

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine, Ambassador of Japan to the ROK will be returning to his duties today and a short while ago he met with you at the Prime Minister's Office. What kind of instructions did you give Ambassador Nagamine?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, Ambassador Nagamine will be returning to Seoul for his duties in the ROK and I instructed him to make every effort to fulfil those duties. I would like to refrain from commenting on the specific instructions. In any event, as the schedule leading up to the presidential election in the ROK has now been decided, during the transition from the current acting president to the administration of the new president it is only natural for Japan to continue to clearly state its stance and also to collect information and adequately prepare for the new administration.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a related question concerning efforts to ensure that the next administration upholds the Japan-ROK agreement concerning the comfort women issue. Mr. Moon Jae-in, who is considered to be a strong candidate for the presidency, has been critical of the agreement and is calling for it to be renegotiated. What points will the Government of Japan emphasize when it calls on the ROK to uphold the agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the presidential election has yet to be held. At this stage, the field of candidates is not complete and as this is a matter that concerns the domestic affairs of the ROK I would like to refrain from making any comment. In any event, the ROK is Japan's most important neighbor that shares strategic interests. Cooperation and collaboration between Japan and the ROK on issues such as North Korea are of the utmost importance for regional peace and stability. The Government of Japan will continue to work with the current administration and the as-yet-undecided new administration of the ROK in steadily implementing the Japan-ROK agreement and also further advancing bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas, including policy on North Korea and security. Ambassador Nagamine will work to coordinate such efforts upon his return to duties.

REPORTER: There have been some voices of dissatisfaction raised within the Liberal Democratic Party that the Ambassador is being returned to duty without any progress having been made on the removal of the comfort woman statues. What are your views on such dissenting voices?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, I believe that the recall of the Ambassador, up until his return to duties today, has amply demonstrated to the ROK side the strong will of Japan with regard to this matter. A decision has been made to return the Ambassador to his duties at the right timing, taking all matters into comprehensive consideration and in view of the fact that the preliminary election has been started for the presidential election of the ROK.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. With regard to the explosion in the Russian subway train, you have just mentioned that the explosion is viewed as being an act of terrorism that targeted a moving subway train. In response to this incident, does the Government intend to take any measures, such as strengthening surveillance at public transportation facilities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we must work in close cooperation with the international community in combating terrorism. As Japan will be hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, two events that will attract global attention, it is of course natural that we will make every effort to tackle terrorism. As I have said before, the key to preventing terrorism is information. It was for the purpose of enhancing structures for the collection of information that the Counter Terrorism Unit-Japan (CTU-J) was newly created. Furthermore, we are working to further strengthen counterterrorism measures, including through joint efforts by the public and private sectors, including strengthening border control measures and bolstering security at important facilities and soft targets. With regard to measures at public transportation facilities and others, we have issued strong guidance to transport operators to work together on enhancing patrols in cooperation with the police, installing security cameras, and notifying the police in the event that suspicious persons or objects are detected. In addition, the Cabinet recently approved the bill to amend the Law on Punishment of Organized Crimes, which would newly establish the offence of Tero-to-Junbi-Zai (the offence to criminalize an act in furtherance of planning to commit terrorism and other serious crimes). This bill is for the purpose of concluding the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which 187 countries have already signed, with Japan as the only country among the G7 countries that has not signed. The Government therefore considers it to be a matter of urgency to conclude the Convention and we will make every endeavor to ensure the passage of the bill and build strong counterterrorism structures.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Imperial Rescript on Education. In yesterday's press conference, when speaking about the use of the rescript as a teaching material, you noted that some of its contents should not be denied, including respect for one's parents, friendly relations among siblings, and mutual trust between friends. On the other hand, however, when speaking about respect for one's parents and other values, it should be possible to use other sources as teaching materials rather than bringing out the rescript, which was revoked by a resolution of the Diet and subsequently lost validity. When considering this point, why do you not deny the use of the rescript as a teaching material?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think that point is a very large misapprehension. In the written response provided by the Government to a question from the Diet, it was naturally noted that it would be inappropriate in schools for the rescript to provide the only source of guidance for Japanese education. On the other hand, the response also explained that the Government would not deny the use of the rescript as a teaching material in a manner that does not contravene legislation such as the Constitution or the Basic Law on Education. It has therefore been clearly explained that it is inappropriate in schools for the rescript to provide the only source of guidance for Japanese education. On the other hand, the Government does not consider that its use as a teaching material should be denied, as long as proper consideration is given to how it is handled in a way that does not conflict with the basic principles of the Constitution, including respect for basic human rights and the sovereignty of the people, or the Basic Law on Education.

REPORTER: I have a related question. President Renho of the Democratic Party has stated that the Government should make clear that the rescript should not be used in any way that would seek to return to prewar values, and there are also other opposing arguments being raised by opposition parties. The Government has stated in its written response that it does not deny the use of the rescript as a teaching material, even in subjects other than history, and there is a possibility of raising concerns that the Government would seek to revert to, or move towards prewar values. What is your view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government absolutely does not intend to utilize the rescript in schools. Speaking in general terms, it is for schools to determine what educational resources to use, based on the stipulations of the Basic Law on Education and in accordance with curriculum guidelines. There is nothing more and nothing less to it than that. I would like to underline that point clearly.

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