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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 12, 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 the South China Sea. One year has now passed since July 2016 when the arbitral tribunal based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rejected the legal basis for China’s claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea. Since then China has refused to accept the decision of the arbitral tribunal and has gone ahead with developing military facilities in the South China Sea. What is the Government’s view of the current situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as the arbitral tribunal’s award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of UNCLOS, the parties to this case are required to comply with the award. Japan has consistently supported full respect for the rule of law at sea. We will continue to emphasize the importance for all countries involved in issues related to the South China Sea to work toward a peaceful resolution of the dispute based on international law.

REPORTER: How will the Government approach China on this issue, given that China still refuses to accept the decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In terms of the Government’s position, for example in the recent G7 Taormina Leaders’ Communiqué, the G7 leaders expressed the unified stance of the G7 nations in stating that they remain concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and urge all relevant countries to pursue demilitarization of disputed features. The Government will continue to promote cooperation with related countries in fully ensuring the rule of law at sea and work toward a peaceful solution.

REPORTER: I have a further question. As recently as this month the United States has conducted freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. Is the Government looking to participate in such exercises, for example by dispatching the Self-Defense Force (SDF) vessels?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan supports the actions being taken by the United States in the South China Sea. We believe that it is of the utmost importance for the international community to work together to ensure the preservation of open, free and peaceful seas. There are no plans for the SDF to participate in freedom of navigation exercises conducted by the United States.

REPORTER: On July 11 the Ministry of National Defense of China announced that China would establish a support base in the East African country of Djibouti, where construction is already being advanced. This will be the first overseas base for the People’s Liberation Army. The United States and European countries have expressed caution about this development. Can I ask about the view of the Government of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the reports on this issue. In any event, the Government will continue to monitor China’s military activities in Djibouti.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: The Missile Defense Agency of the United States Department of Defense has announced that it conducted a successful intercept test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. This was apparently the 14th such test and to date there has been a 100 percent success rate. In the event of a ballistic missile launch by North Korea, Japan has a two-stage interception system in place, comprising SM-3 and PAC-3 systems. Could you please explain once again whether the Government considers the current missile interception capability to be sufficient?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the most important duty of the Government is to protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the people of Japan from any situation. We are engaged in the collection and analysis of information about North Korea’s moves to develop nuclear and missile technologies, and the necessary structures are in place in the SDF from the perspective of making every effort to protect the lives and properties of the people of Japan from the threat of missiles. With regard to ballistic missile defense systems, in the current National Defense Program Guidelines it is stipulated that measures will be implemented to improve Japan's capability to respond to ballistic missiles in all areas of Japan. In the FY2017 budget the Government has also secured budgetary allocation for expenses relating to new acquisitions of systems for ensuring expanded protective coverage from missiles. In any event, we will continue to make every effort to protect the lives and properties of the people of Japan from the threat of ballistic missiles.

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