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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 5, 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: I have a question relating to North Korean missiles. With regard to the type and launch mechanism of the latest missile launch, the United States and Republic of Korea (ROK) militaries consider that there is a strong possibility the missile was a new intermediate-range ballistic missile, representing improvement of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Is this also the view of the Government of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the type of missile launched by North Korea, various comprehensive and expert analysis will be needed based on the requisite information, and this analysis is currently being conducted. I am aware that based on initial analysis, the United States has announced that the ballistic missile that was launched was a KN-15 missile. However, our analysis is currently ongoing.

REPORTER: Is it the Government's view, based on analysis, that North Korea's SLBM technologies have improved?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have been collecting all the information on the latest launch, including the matter you mentioned, but due to its nature I would like to refrain from making any comment.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the Imperial Rescript on Education. In responses given in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology today, Education Minister Matsuno stated that the Government has no intention to advocate the use of the rescript in moral education, but that he did not seek to obstruct the rights of schools with regard to the way they go about educational activities. Does the Government share this recognition with regard to the use of the rescript in schools?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Our view is exactly the same as that stated by the Minister.

REPORTER: So can we assume that the Government believes that decisions on the rescript's use should be left to schools themselves to decide?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think that is also self-evident.

REPORTER: Concerning the Government's response with regard to this issue, some have pointed out that prohibiting the use of specific teaching materials could adversely affect the neutrality of schools. Is it from this perspective that the Government does not deny all possibilities of the use of the rescript?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the content of the written question that was received from the Diet, it asked whether the use of the Imperial Rescript on Education should be prohibited in schools. In the Government's written response, it was noted that it would be inappropriate in schools for the rescript to provide the only source of guidance for Japanese education. In addition, 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. Accordingly, the Government has absolutely no intention to actively promote the utilization of 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, and it is this general concept that formed the basis for the Government's written response to the question from the Diet.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of North Korea. The Trump administration has indicated that all options are on the table with regard to a response to North Korea. Could you tell us once again how the Government evaluates this stance by the United States? Also, does the Government recognize that the options for the United States could include the military option?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the United States has indicated that in dealing with North Korea, all options are on the table and the Government appreciates this stance. It is important to further enhance response capabilities as a part of the deterrence capability under the Japan-U.S. Alliance and Japan will continue to advance cooperation with the United States in security-related areas. With regard to whether the U.S. options include a military option, I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government of Japan. The Government appreciates the United States' stated stance that all options are on the table.

REPORTER: I have a related question. On his recent visit to Japan in March, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated in a press conference that diplomatic and other efforts toward North Korea over the past 20 years have been a failure and that a new approach is required. Given that the Government of Japan has worked with the previous Bush and Obama administrations in efforts to respond to North Korea, what is your view of Secretary Tillerson's recognition?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My understanding is that Secretary Tillerson was stating that despite efforts by the United States today, North Korea continues to persist in nuclear and missile development. In the past year alone, there have been two nuclear weapons tests and 20 missile launches. I believe that it was in this context that Secretary Tillerson explained that a review of policy on North Korea is required. The Government will continue to work closely with the United States, the ROK, and other countries concerned with regard to military developments in North Korea, including the launch of ballistic missiles, while constantly striving to gather and analyze information with the greatest interest and making every effort to ensure the peace and security of Japan. We will also make concerted efforts to realize a comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern regarding North Korea, including abductions, nuclear and missile issues, maintaining the principles of dialogue and pressure, and action for action, in close coordination with the United States.

REPORTER: I have a further question. You have already referred to the United States' change of policy with regard to North Korea, so do you not feel that it may also be necessary to revise Japan's existing principle of dialogue and pressure?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is absolutely no change whatsoever to our policies of dialogue and pressure and action for action.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. In a press conference yesterday, Reconstruction Minister Imamura expressed the view that people who have evacuated voluntarily due to the nuclear power station accident in Fukushima should decide what to do as a matter of personal responsibility. Opposition parties have denounced this statement as heartless. The Minister is also being criticized for his heated response to a journalist's question. Can I ask for the Government's view on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is my understanding that Minister Imamura stated that it will be the people in the households who have evacuated voluntarily who will decide for themselves how they wish to live. At the same time, I understand that in Fukushima Prefecture the local government has provided attentive assistance for daily living to enable people to rebuild their lives according to their own wishes. This support includes individual visits to households to hear people's wishes, and also the provision of subsidies for private sector rental accommodation or assistance for moving into public housing. The Government will continue to cooperate with local governments concerned and make every effort to develop the living environment, including the restoration and reconstruction of infrastructure, the provision of medical care, education, measures to control wild birds and animals, and measures to restore people's businesses, so that evacuees can return to Fukushima of their own volition. We will continue to engage in efforts to develop the living environment so that people can return to Fukushima and endeavor to provide support to evacuees and persons affected.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about Syria. There are suspicions that the Syrian military under the Assad administration has used chemical weapons in an airstrike in Syria. President Trump has issued a statement denouncing the heinous actions taken by the Assad administration. What is the Government's view of this incident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government of Japan is deeply concerned by the reports that chemical weapons were allegedly used in an airstrike that took the lives of many civilians. If the use of chemical weapons is confirmed, the Government of Japan strongly condemns this act. The Government of Japan calls upon related countries and organizations to promptly find out what occurred. The use of chemical weapons is not permissible under any circumstances. The Government of Japan intends to coordinate with the international community to achieve the cessation of all violence.

REPORTER: I have a related question. An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is planned to be held in response to this incident and criticism is growing in the international community. The Assad administration is widely considered to be supported by Russia, so given that Japan has certain communication links with the Russian side, does the Government intend to call on Russia with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the Government expects related countries and organizations to promptly find out what occurred. We will continue to coordinate with the international community, including Russia, to achieve the cessation of all violence.

REPORTER: With regard to North Korea, you have just stated that the Government appreciates the United States' stance that all options are on the table. I would like to ask about Japan's options, however, bearing in mind that in the past the then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Japan to "show the flag." Japan also has to deal with the abductions issue, which is a top priority for the Abe administration. Is the Government considering the response Japan would take in the event that the United States chose to take military action against North Korea, or are such considerations likely to be made in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to refrain from making any speculative comments about any future response that the United States may make. If I were to add anything further, it would be to note that it naturally goes without saying that it is of the utmost importance to maintain peace through diplomatic efforts. However, in a situation in which the regional security environment is of ever increasing severity, it is important to ensure that U.S. deterrence capabilities are secured. This is also important from the perspective of protecting the safety and security of the people of Japan. It is based on this perspective that the Government of Japan values the stance of the United States that all options are on the table concerning a response to North Korea. In any event, it is important to further enhance the deterrence capabilities and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. During the recent visit to Japan by Secretary Tillerson, we were able to confer closely on policy matters and we will continue to maintain such close cooperation with the United States going forward.

REPORTER: This evening, an inter-ministerial liaison committee will meet to discuss measures to promote and expand the use of game meat (gibier). You will be heading the meeting, so could you tell us the reason for its timing and what the Government hopes to achieve by the Prime Minister's Office initiating and taking the lead in discussions on expanding the use of game meat?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: An inter-ministerial council has been established in order to promote greater use of game meat. The first meeting will be held today and we have invited experts in various fields, including hunting, distribution, and processing, in order to hear their opinions. Currently, only 10% of venison is processed for human consumption. On the other hand, damage caused by wildlife nationwide is a serious problem for those people engaged in agriculture. The meeting today will seek to look at this issue from a different angle, and consider ways to promote the use of wild birds and animals as game meat nationwide, thus helping to prevent damage to agriculture by wildlife and also increase incomes for agricultural regions, transforming a negative situation into a positive one. After hearing the opinions of experts today, the aim is to move forward quickly and engage in what we need to do to expand the use of game meat in various sectors, including in restaurants and retail outlets, farm-based accommodation facilities, and school lunches, as well as in pet food.

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