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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 11, 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
(There were statements on the overview of the Cabinet meeting, the ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, and others.)

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. On July 10 Prime Minister Abadi of Iraq formally announced victory in the mission to recapture Mosul, which has been the largest stronghold in Iraq for the extremist group the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL). To date ISIL has announced in its publications and through other media that Japan is one of its targets and there have been several killings of Japanese nationals. This victory in Mosul has decisively weakened ISIL, so can I ask for a comment from the Government about this outcome?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that in the early hours of July 11, Japan time, Prime Minister Abadi of Iraq, on Iraqi state television, formally declared victory in the battle for Mosul. This is the region where the formation of ISIL was declared in June 2014 and therefore the Government considers that the declaration of victory in the battle for Mosul, which was a major stronghold for ISIL, is an important step for peace and stability in Iraq. However, there are still areas in Iraq that are under the control of ISIL, in addition to which a serious humanitarian crisis is continuing, including the influx of a huge number of internally displaced persons. The Government of Japan will continue to leverage our national strengths in making the utmost contributions in non-military fields such as humanitarian assistance while coordinating closely with the Government of Iraq, relevant countries and international organizations, in order to support the international efforts to fight against terrorism and restore peace and stability in Iraq.

REPORTER: The Law for Partial Amendment of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds and Other Laws has entered into force. During the deliberations on the bill, a letter was received from United Nations Special Rapporteur Cannataci asking whether the bill had text that would guarantee privacy rights, and the Government responded that there would be a response about Japan's position in due course. Has that response been issued?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the concerns and points noted by Mr. Cannataci in his open letter are currently being closely examined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and consideration is being given to specific responses. In any event, in order to accurately explain the initiatives taken by Japan to the international community, the Government will provide a formal response about Japan's position in relation to the matters referred to in this letter in due course.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Special Rapporteur Cannataci also requested that the text of the law be translated into English. Will the Government be sending a translation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is also among the matters being considered.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. Minister of Gender Equality and Family Chung Hyun-back of the Republic of Korea (ROK) yesterday indicated her intention to renegotiate the agreement between Japan and the ROK regarding the comfort women issue. This comment suggests that the minister will engage in actions that go against the objectives of the agreement, which finally and irreversibly resolved this issue. Can I ask if the Government has made any kind of response to the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware of the reports about this matter. I would add that the Japan-ROK agreement of 2015 resolved the comfort women issue finally and irreversibly between the two countries. The agreement is highly valued by the international community. It is of the utmost importance to steadily implement such an agreement, and we have conveyed this point through various channels to date.

REPORTER: It seems Minister Chung also referred to the establishment of a comfort women museum. What is the Government’s view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as I have just mentioned, the Governments of Japan and the ROK confirmed that the comfort women issue is resolved finally and irreversibly with this agreement. Needless to say, it is of the utmost importance to steadily implement this agreement that is highly valued by the international community. We will continue to take every opportunity to urge the ROK to steadily implement the agreement.

REPORTER: Minister Chung also mentioned that the Government of the ROK will support efforts to have documents relating to the comfort women issue inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register. What are your opinions on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Our view on this point is that support for such an application would contravene the original intent and purpose behind the establishment of UNESCO, namely to promote friendship and mutual understanding among member countries. We have repeatedly requested the Government of the ROK to take appropriate action in view of the intent of the Japan-ROK agreement of 2015. In response to the latest comments, we have strongly made clear our position to the Government of the ROK.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of the Law for Partial Amendment of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds and Other Laws. While the Government has explained the importance of this legislation for combating terrorism, there was the matter involving the UN Special Rapporteur that was discussed earlier, and also there are still concerns among the public that the legislation could be applied arbitrarily to investigations. Given that the legislation enters into force today, could you tell us once again about its significance and what the Government intends to do to assuage public concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we consider that combating terrorism is an urgent challenge that should be addressed by a united international community. Particularly in the case of Japan we are scheduled to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. It is therefore Japan’s responsibility as the host nation of these events to ensure security and safety. We must work closely with the international community with a sense of urgency in making every effort to combat terrorism. In the previous Diet session we were able to achieve the passage of this legislation. Above all else, what is required in order to prevent terrorism is information. In order to combat terrorism and other organized crimes at home and overseas, it is of critical importance that we work closely with the international community on such measures as the extradition of criminals, mutual assistance in investigations and the collection of information. In that sense the conclusion of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its entry into force will be of great significance for Japan in preventing terrorism. The text of the law makes it clear that the groups and organizations that are subject to this law are limited to terrorist groups and other organized crime groups. Furthermore, it is also clear that it does not apply to organizations engaged in legitimate activities, including companies, civic groups, and labor unions. In addition, with regard to crimes that are subject to punishment, the law 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 277 specific cases of criminality out of a total 600 cases in which it could be realistically envisaged that organized crime groups would be involved. Through such careful measures the Government has sought to clearly and strictly stipulate what cases constitute a crime and we will continue to provide explanations to the people of Japan to reassure them that the law would not be applied arbitrarily.

(Abridged)

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