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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 18, 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 would like to ask about the meeting with the Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Korea (ROK). I believe that you and the Prime Minister each held a meeting with the Special Envoy. Could you please first share what was discussed in your meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: I held a meeting with Mr. Moon Hee-sang, Special Envoy of the President of the ROK. In the meeting, we confirmed close Japan-ROK cooperation on the issue of North Korea, which is an issue that is of special interest to both our countries. Furthermore, we agreed to hold a Japan-ROK summit meeting in the near future. We also agreed on the fundamental point of continuing to aim for a future-oriented relationship between Japan and the ROK. In that context we agreed to cooperate closely with each other going forward. In the meeting between Prime Minister Abe and Special Envoy Moon, the Prime Minister stated that the ROK is Japan’s most important neighbor with whom we share strategic interests, and expressed his intention to build a future-oriented Japan-ROK relationship with the administration of President Moon Jae-in. Prime Minister Abe also said that he looks forward to holding a summit meeting with President Moon at an early date, and he and Special Envoy Moon agreed to arrange a summit meeting in the near future. They also confirmed close cooperation on the pressing issue of North Korea, and the Prime Minister expressed his intention to manage the Japan-ROK relationship in an appropriate manner, including with regard to the Japan-ROK agreement. The meetings were held in the manner I just explained.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Did you also make a request to Special Envoy Moon for the steady implementation of the Japan-ROK agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: I stated that while difficult issues may exist between our two countries, we intend to manage them appropriately.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. President Moon is said to have a conciliatory stance towards North Korea. Did you receive an explanation of the ROK’s future policy towards North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: I stated that dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless, and that any dialogue must be conditioned upon North Korea taking action toward nuclear disarmament. The ROK side expressed complete agreement in this regard.

REPORTER: Could you please confirm whether or not the Japan-ROK agreement was mentioned in the meetings that you and the Prime Minister held with Special Envoy Moon?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: Regarding the Japan-ROK agreement, we confirmed that both Japan and the ROK will implement the agreement with a sense of responsibility.

REPORTER: If I may confirm, was it the Prime Minister who brought up the Japan-ROK agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: The Prime Minister stated that he intends to manage the Japan-ROK relationship in an appropriate manner, including with regard to the Japan-ROK agreement.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. Did Special Envoy Moon mention historical issues, such as the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: It was not mentioned in my meeting with Special Envoy Moon. I believe it was probably also not mentioned in the Prime Minister’s meeting with him.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to ask about Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP). The quarterly estimates of GDP for January – March 2017 were published today and indicate that real GDP increased by 0.5 percent. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter in which real GDP has increased, the longest such period in 11 years. On the other hand, some experts have pointed out that this growth is lacking in robustness, given that capital investment by businesses is slowing down and little momentum can be seen in individual consumption, among other factors. What is your view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: In the first preliminary estimates of the quarterly estimates of GDP for January – March 2017 announced today, the real growth rate was 2.2 percent per annum, exceeding the average market expectation of 1.9 percent. This marked the first time in 11 years that real GDP has increased for five consecutive quarters. This is likely the result of increased domestic demand due to a 0.4 percent increase in individual consumption arising from continued improvement in the employment and wage environment and recovery of the consumer mindset, as well as increased overseas demand due to the gentle recovery of the global economy and rising exports. There is no change in our perception that the economy is on a mild recovery track, in the context of continuing improvement in employment and wages. The Government will continue to take steps to realize a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged, advance work-style reform, and seek to further expand the virtuous economic cycle.

REPORTER: I would like to return to Japan-ROK relations. A United Nations committee recently recommended the renegotiation of the Japan-ROK agreement, and there are reports that Japan issued a statement in opposition. What is the state of the Government’s discussions on the matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: We are currently still discussing what specific response to take.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the subject of North Korea. The cargo-passenger ship Mangyongbong has left North Korea and entered port at Vladivostok. There are concerns that this is a way in which North Korea will be able to evade sanctions. What is the Government’s view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: It is necessary for the relevant countries to work closely together and apply pressure on North Korea in order to make North Korea participate seriously in dialogue. In that context the Government will closely monitor the impact Russia’s actions have on measures by the international community to apply pressure on North Korea. Japan will continue to work closely together with Russia and other relevant countries, and strongly urge North Korea to refrain from acts of provocation and to comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You stated that Japan will closely monitor the impact of Russia’s actions. Does the Government have any intention to also communicate with Russia through diplomatic and other channels?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: Definitely.


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