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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 6, 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 about the Japan-U.S. summit telephone talk that took place this morning. I believe that a number of points concerning measures against North Korea were confirmed, so could you tell us your evaluation of the telephone talk?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the overview of the summit telephone talk, commencing at 6:33 a.m. for approximately 35 minutes, Prime Minister Abe held a telephone talk with President Trump. The two leaders shared the recognition that North Korea's ballistic missile launch yesterday was an act of dangerous provocation, and a grave threat to the security of Japan. Prime Minister Abe expressed his intention to strongly urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint with further provocative actions and comply with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, with the United States' strong commitment as a backdrop. Furthermore, in light of the approaching U.S.-China summit meeting, Prime Minister Abe explained that Japan is paying close attention to China's response to the North Korean issue. Prime Minister Abe and President Trump shared the view that China's role is important and that Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will coordinate closely. President Trump explained that all options are on the table, and also made a powerful statement that the United States supports its ally Japan one-hundred percent. Prime Minister Abe requested President Trump's cooperation on promptly resolving the abductions issue, and further obtained President Trump's support. The two leaders shared the view that they will continue to strengthen their responses to the North Korean issue while cooperating together and with the international community. Thus, regarding the North Korea issue, the summit telephone talk was extremely frank and detailed and highly significant in that it confirmed the strong cooperation between Japan and the United States at the leader level.

REPORTER: You have already mentioned that the U.S.-China summit meeting is scheduled to take place from tomorrow, so what progress does the Government of Japan hope will be achieved in the summit meeting with regard to policy on North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that China is a country that has a very high degree of influence on North Korea, we naturally hope that in the summit meeting China will undertake to urge North Korea to refrain from repeating provocative actions. In any event, we hope that the leaders of the United States and China will engage in constructive and frank discussions on various issues, including North Korea, which would be significant from the perspective of regional and international peace and stability.

REPORTER: In the telephone talk, it appears that with regard to the role of China, Prime Minister Abe and President Trump confirmed their recognition that measures by China to halt coal imports from North Korea will not be sufficient on their own. Does the Government have a specific image of the role that China should play with regard to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, China is a country that has a great deal of influence on North Korea and therefore the Government hopes that China will move to implement the relevant UNSC resolutions, including with regard to this issue, alongside the various measures that have been implemented by various countries independently.

REPORTER: I have a related question concerning a strike capability against enemy bases. To date, both the Prime Minister and you have stated that Japan does not possess weapons systems for the purpose of maintaining a strike capability against enemy bases, nor are there any plans to acquire such systems. In light of the missile launches by North Korea, does the Government intend to engage in considerations on such a capability?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The most important duty of the Government is to protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the people of Japan from any situation. We recently received a proposal from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) concerning the matter that you mentioned. The Government will review the proposal thoroughly and engage in various considerations with a view to comprehensively improving our ballistic missile response capabilities.

REPORTER: You have just referred to "various considerations," so could you tell us if any progress has already been made on such considerations, so soon after the proposal was submitted?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have only very recently received the proposal. In any event, the Government will naturally be giving consideration to what would be the most effective method of protecting the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: I have a point of confirmation. You have just noted that the main objective is to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people, so if it is determined to be necessary, is there a possibility that Japan would seek to possess such a strike capability? Could you also tell us how the Government would seek the understanding of the public if Japan were to acquire such a capability?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the current National Defense Program Guidelines seek to comprehensively improve Japan's capability to respond to ballistic missiles. In specific terms, the Government will be engaging in considerations about what structures can be used and what needs to be done to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of Japan in response to changes in the international situation, based on an exclusively defense-oriented policy and with a view to strengthening deterrence capabilities under the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

REPORTER: In the summit telephone talk, President Trump noted that all options are on the table, so did he mention the specific content of these, or what the preferred option would be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Such matters were not discussed.

REPORTER: With North Korea further escalating its provocative actions, including missile launches and nuclear weapons tests, there are some who doubt whether China is really using its influence on North Korea. You have stated that China has influence on North Korea, so does the Government really consider that China remains influential to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think that is the common-sense view.

REPORTER: According to some press reports, White House officials consider that yesterday's missile launch was of a scud missile. Has the Government of Japan specified what type of missile was launched yet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I noted yesterday, there are various sources of information concerning the launch. We are engaged in comprehensive and specialist analysis of these sources of information. There are views which are different from those of the United States. It was pointed out yesterday that the missile was not a KN-15 type missile. Therefore, we continue to analyze the information we have.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. 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), is scheduled to be deliberated in the Diet from today. Could I ask once again for the Government's view on the necessity and significance of achieving the passage of this bill in the current Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as you are all aware, it is a fact that various terrorists incidents have occurred in countries around the world that have claimed the lives of many people. Japan is scheduled to host the Rugby World Cup in two years' time and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in three years' time. It is against this backdrop that it is necessary to develop a comprehensive legislative structure for preventing organized crime and terrorism. This bill is for the purpose of concluding the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which has so far been signed by the 187 countries and regions, with Japan being the only country among the G7 countries that has not yet signed. As I have stated frequently, in order to fight organized crime and terrorism in Japan and overseas the most important thing is information, which relates to such matters as the extradition of criminals, assistance in investigation, and the collection of intelligence. In that sense, it is of the utmost importance to cooperate closely with the international community. The Government therefore considers it to be a matter of urgency to conclude the convention, which would also enable further international cooperation.

REPORTER: The Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party are among those who are aiming to have the bill abandoned, based on concerns that there is a high possibility that the legislation could infringe upon freedom of thought or intent. Looking toward the passage of the bill, what points will the Government be emphasizing to the opposition parties in particular in order to gain their understanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In deliberations in the Diet on the draft bill that was submitted, a variety of observations were made that the draft bill could target organizations engaged in legitimate activities or that it could criminalize thoughts or intent rather than actions. It was based on such comments that the draft bill has been revised to make it clear in the text that the groups and organizations that are subject to this law are limited only to groups preparing to commit acts of terrorism and other organized crime groups. By revising the text of the bill, it is clear that it does not apply to organizations engaged in legitimate activities, including companies, civic groups, and labor unions. Furthermore, with regard to crimes that are subject to punishment, the draft bill also makes clear that it would only constitute a criminal act when, in addition to the act of planning a crime, acts of preparation themselves are made. The draft bill therefore clearly does not stipulate punishment of intent. Punishable crimes are also identified and are limited to the 277 specific cases of criminality in which it could be realistically envisaged that organized crime groups would be involved. The Government therefore considers that the draft bill has been compiled in a way that serves to allay unease or concerns about its content. The Government will make every effort to explain the contents of the draft bill carefully, seeking the broad support of not only the ruling parties, but also the opposition parties.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have stated that the bill is necessary in order for Japan to conclude the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, but at the current time are there any specific disadvantages for Japan by not being a party to the convention?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan naturally seeks to prevent and respond to acts of terrorism, which requires close cooperation on such matters as the extradition of criminals, assistance in investigation, and the collection of intelligence. If Japan were to sign the convention it would make such cooperative actions much easier to coordinate and implement, making terrorism easier to prevent.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine, Japan's Ambassador to the ROK returned to his duties recently, but according to press reports the Government of the ROK has decided to not accede to Japan's requests for a meeting with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, due to what they believe are Japan's one-sided demands. Has the Government of Japan been informed of this intention with regard to a meeting between Ambassador Nagamine and Acting President Hwang?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Arrangements for a courtesy call by Ambassador Nagamine on Acting President Hwang are currently being made. Ambassador Nagamine will call strongly on the ROK side to implement the terms of the Japan-ROK agreement with regard to the comfort women issue. As a presidential election is scheduled to take place in the ROK shortly, there will be a new incoming president. Our hope, therefore, is that Ambassador Nagamine will be able to play a role in conveying Japan's arguments with regard to this matter.

REPORTER: If that is the case, putting an actual date aside, does the Government anticipate that a meeting with Acting President Hwang can be realized?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Arrangements are being made to that end.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It has been pointed out that generally when Japan's ambassador to the ROK engages in consultations, his counterpart is a vice-minister for foreign affairs or person of equivalent rank and therefore the ambassador is not of a rank to meet with the acting president. What are your thoughts on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think that this is the case. For example, Ambassador Nagamine also made a courtesy call on former ROK President Park Geun-hye, previously. Arrangements are currently being made for a courtesy call by Ambassador Nagamine on Acting President Hwang.

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