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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 23, 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: An explosion has occurred at a concert hall in Manchester in the United Kingdom, and at the current point it appears that 19 people have been killed, with around 50 people injured. Do you have any information at this time about the safety of Japanese nationals?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in terms of the overall picture, this morning, Japan time, an explosion occurred at a concert hall in Manchester in the United Kingdom. The Government is deeply shocked at this incident which has claimed so many lives and caused many injuries. At the current point 19 fatalities and approximately 50 injured have been confirmed. I am aware that the authorities in the United Kingdom are currently investigating this incident as an act of terrorism. If confirmed, such a despicable act of terrorism is absolutely intolerable and Japan resolutely condemns this attack. The Government would like to offer its heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, and wish those who were injured a speedy recovery. Japan stands in strong solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom. Immediately following the incident, a local response headquarters was established at a Japanese diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom, and it is currently gathering information and making every effort to confirm the safety of Japanese nationals. At the current point there is no information to suggest that Japanese nationals have been affected by this incident. Japan will continue active efforts to enhance our counter-terrorism measures, in cooperation with the United Kingdom and the rest of the international community.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You stated that the authorities in the United Kingdom are investigating this incident as an act of terrorism. Following this incident, are there any measures that the Government is considering, including measures for a domestic response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is most important that we gather information about terrorism. As the host of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, Japan’s greatest duty is to ensure safety and in that sense we will continue to work together with the international community, taking all possible measures to combat terrorism with a sense of urgency. It is for the purpose of collecting accurate information that we have already established the Counter Terrorism Unit – Japan (CTU-J) and are strengthening our capabilities to collect and aggregate information relating to international terrorism under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office. Additionally, the Government is further enhancing joint measures between the public and private sectors against terrorism, including border control security measures, and security for critical facilities and soft targets. We are stepping up our resilience, and that is the current situation in Japan.

REPORTER: This afternoon, it is expected that the amended bill concerning Tero-to-Junbi-Zai will be voted on by the plenary session of the House of Representatives. The bill would make an act in furtherance of planning to commit terrorism and other serious crimes a punishable offense. Given that many concerts like the one in the United Kingdom are being held around Japan, what is the Government’s view of the significance of this bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The bill that you mention aims to respond fully to not just the planning but also actual acts of preparation for terrorism and other serious crimes, and as I have just stated, the collection of information is of the utmost importance in this regard. In that sense, we would like to pass this bill for the purpose of concluding the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which has so far been signed by 187 countries and regions, with Japan being the only country among the G7 countries that has not yet signed. The Government is therefore seeking to achieve the passage of this bill in the current session of the Diet, in order to enable Japan to acquire various sources of information in the course of international collaborative activities. In particular, in order to fight organized crime at home and overseas, including acts of terrorism, it is essential to engage in close cooperation with other countries in such areas as the extradition of criminals, assistance in investigation, and the collection of intelligence. In that sense, therefore, it is a matter of urgency to conclude the convention. With the understanding of the people of Japan about the necessity of this bill, the Government seeks to achieve its passage as soon as possible, in the plenary session of the House of Representatives today, and in the House of Councillors thereafter.

REPORTER: A terrorist incident also occurred in the United Kingdom in March this year. Will the Government consider issuing any alerts to travelers?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government has issued information concerning the overseas safety situation and alerts through the Overseas Safety website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, alert e-mails have also been sent out to overseas Japanese residents and short-term travelers who have registered with the “Tabi Reji” (travel registration).

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has issued a press statement that strongly condemns the latest missile launch by North Korea and calls for sanctions imposed on North Korea to be fully and comprehensively implemented. What is the Government’s evaluation of the latest UNSC press statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, this morning, Japan time, the UNSC issued a press statement that strongly condemns the ballistic missile launch by North Korea on May 21 and demanded that North Korea conduct no further nuclear and ballistic missile tests. This press statement demonstrates the unified stance of the international community that it does not accept North Korea’s nuclear and missile development activities. As detailed in the press statement, Japan believes it to be of the utmost importance for the UNSC 1718 Committee and the Panel of Experts to redouble their efforts to achieve full implementation of the relevant measures by all members. Japan is of the opinion that in the emergency meeting of the UNSC that is scheduled to be held in the early hours of tomorrow, May 24, Japan time, it will be important for the UNSC to demonstrate a unified stance of not accepting North Korea’s nuclear and missile development activities and to engage in specific discussions on the strict implementation of relevant UNSC resolutions. Accordingly, in the forum of the UNSC we will continue to respond steadily by working closely with our friends such as the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and also calling on countries such as China and Russia, which have influence on North Korea.

REPORTER: As you have just noted, an emergency meeting of the UNSC is scheduled to be held tonight, Japan time. Although it is still rather unclear as to whether there will be discussion on the issuance of a new resolution against North Korea, what is the expectation of the Government with regard to the approach that will be taken by countries such as China, which have influence on North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted, Japan will continue to work with the United States and the ROK trilaterally and will also call strongly on China and Russia, which have influence on North Korea, making every effort to ensure that North Korea will never conduct another provocative action.

REPORTER: I have a question about Japan’s own sanctions against North Korea. A short while ago, in a press conference following the Cabinet meeting Foreign Minister Kishida stated that the Government is considering the possibility of introducing so-called “catch-all controls,” whereby the Government would manage and regulate exports in a case in which it was deemed likely that export goods could be used for missile development or similar purposes. What is the specific status of considerations within the Government with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: For two consecutive weeks North Korea has engaged in these actions that challenge the international community and UNSC resolutions. In that sense it is only natural for Japan to implement measures within the framework of UNSC resolutions and as I stated the other day the Government seeks to carefully examine what it can do and place further pressure on North Korea. In this regard, the Government is currently giving consideration to the matter, including what was mentioned by Foreign Minister Kishida.

REPORTER: Prior to the second meeting of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading towards their Total Elimination, which is scheduled to begin next month at the UN, the ambassador to the UN of the country chairing the conference has announced a draft convention on the broad prohibition of nuclear weapons, including their use and development. In the preamble to the draft convention the word “hibakusha” has been included at the wish of the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and people affected by nuclear tests. Can I ask if there is no change to Japan’s stance of opposing negotiations on this treaty?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no change to Japan’s position on this issue. As to why this is the case, the Government considers that in order to realize a world free of nuclear weapons, the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states is also necessary. Notwithstanding this necessity, the fact remains that this conference has failed to gain the engagement and participation of any of the five nuclear-weapon states, namely the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China. Holding negotiations in such environment would not only be unconducive to efforts to realize a world free of nuclear weapons, but may even have the adverse effect of deepening the divide between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states and move us further away from achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. It was based on a comprehensive judgment of the situation that Japan determined it would not participate in the negotiations. Japan has consistently focused efforts on realizing a world free of nuclear weapons and we believe that it is necessary to seek realistic and effective measures that bring together both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states. As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings in wartime we will continue to take the lead in international efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. In any event, the Government will continue to play its role, given that we also need the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states in order to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.

(Abridged)

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