Skip to main content

Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  July 2017 >  July 18, 2017 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
(There was a statement on the overview of the Cabinet meeting.)

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) policy toward North Korea. The administration of President Moon Jae-in has proposed that the ROK and North Korea hold military talks and also engage in talks between their respective Red Cross organizations. What is the Government’s analysis of the intentions and aims of this proposal by the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, my understanding is that the Red Cross talks have been proposed with the aim of reuniting families that are separated from each other in the ROK and North Korea, and that the military talks have been proposed in order to prevent hostile acts along the military demarcation line between the two countries. The Government does not consider that this proposal presents an issue regarding the policy confirmed by Japan, the United States and the ROK to strengthen pressure on North Korea. In any event, the Government will continue to call strongly on North Korea to take concrete actions towards the realization of a comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern, based on the principles of "dialogue and pressure" and "action for action," while closely cooperating with the relevant countries, including the ROK.

REPORTER: In which case, is this latest response by the ROK not in contradiction of the policy that was only very recently confirmed at the Japan-United States-ROK summit meeting at the G20 Hamburg Summit, namely to put pressure on North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that they are contradictory. As was confirmed in the joint statement issued following the Japan-United States-ROK summit meeting on July 6, the leaders committed to continue to cooperate to apply maximum pressure on North Korea to take steps necessary to return to serious denuclearization dialogue. The recent proposal made by the ROK is, as I have just noted, for the purpose of reuniting families that are separated from each other in the ROK and North Korea, and to prevent hostile acts along the military demarcation line.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Did the Government of the ROK contact Japan and provide any advance notice about this latest proposal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is engaged constantly in close communication with the ROK on issues relating to North Korea. I would like to refrain from commenting about the specific details of such interactions.

REPORTER: I understand that you wish to refrain from going into detail, but was this latest proposal by the ROK based on sufficient coordination between the ROK and Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and the ROK are constantly engaged in close cooperation in dealing with issues relating to North Korea.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the Japan-ROK agreement concerning the comfort women. The Office of the President of the ROK has announced the discovery of documents that include unlawful orders pertaining to various matters, including the Japan-ROK agreement concerning the comfort women. Although the details of such orders and in what way they were unlawful has not been made clear, there are concerns that the discovery of the documents could influence moves in the ROK to seek to revise the agreement. Can I ask for the view of the Government on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I am aware of the press reports, I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government as this matter concerns internal documents of the Government of the ROK. I would say that the agreement of 2015 was confirmed by the governments of Japan and the ROK and is highly valued by the international community. It is therefore of the utmost importance to steadily implement it and the Government has conveyed these points thoroughly to the ROK through various channels.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, about Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, a Person of Cultural Merit and Honorary President of St. Luke’s International Hospital who has passed away at the age of 105. Can I ask for a comment from the Government about Dr. Hinohara’s passing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It fills me with great sorrow that Dr. Hinohara has passed away, after a lifetime spent making such an immense contribution to the advancement of medicine. In particular, Dr. Hinohara was among the first to focus his attention on the importance of preventive medicine and establish the first annual health examinations in Japan in 1954. He also coined the phrase “lifestyle-related disease,” which is one of the three largest causes of mortality in Japan today and is a phrase that is now in common parlance. He is truly one of the people who built the foundations of modern medicine in contemporary Japan. He was also deeply interested and involved in training and development of nurses, and achieved outstanding results in such areas as end-of-life care. In particular, at the time of the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, Dr. Hinohara, who was then the President of St. Luke’s International Hospital, made a significant contribution in the immediate aftermath by opening the hospital to all victims without limits on numbers and the hospital’s work as a base for the treatment of victims helped to contain the damage and impact of the attack. Dr. Hinohara was truly an outstanding person who achieved many great things. He continued to devote himself to the advancement of medicine throughout his life, even beyond the age of 100. I would like to express my heartfelt respect and appreciation for Dr. Hinohara’s work and offer my condolences on his passing.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of the Moon administration’s approach to North Korea-ROK relations. The proposal made by President Moon to seek dialogue with North Korea has been welcomed and supported by China and the European Union. Can I ask how the Government of Japan evaluates it?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, the Government’s understanding is that the recent proposal made by the ROK is for the purpose of reuniting families that are separated from each other in the ROK and North Korea, and to prevent hostile acts along the military demarcation line. The Government does not consider that the proposal presents an issue regarding the policy confirmed by Japan, the United States and the ROK to strengthen pressure on North Korea. The ROK has made similar moves in the past.

REPORTER: You have stated that the Government does not see any contradiction or issue with the proposal made by the ROK, but are there any concerns that the Moon administration may seek to strengthen its attempts to engage North Korea in dialogue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, efforts to reunite families and prevent hostilities along the military demarcation line have also been made by previous administrations in the ROK and our view is that such efforts are not at all at odds with the policy confirmed among Japan, the United States and the ROK.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: On July 17, the Second Regional Japan Coast Guard Headquarters confirmed the entry into Japan’s territorial waters of two Chinese Coast Guard vessels. Can I ask whether the Government has expressed concern about this matter to the Government of China or approached China in any way? What is your view of this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding the matter that you mentioned, I have received a report that it has been confirmed that on July 15 and July 17, Chinese Coast Guard vessels passed through Japanese territorial waters in the vicinity of the Tsushima Strait and in the vicinity of the Tsugaru Strait. In response to these passages the Ministry of Defense and the Japan Coast Guard made radio calls to the Chinese vessels and monitored their movements with patrol vessels. In addition, a meeting among ministries and agencies concerned was convened, during which response measures were discussed, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed its concern about this situation to the Chinese side.

REPORTER: Is it the view of the Government that this passage through Japanese territorial waters was innocent passage?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in this case Japan has not obtained any information suggesting that this activity would not be seen as innocent passage. That is the recognition of the Government.

REPORTER: This is the first time for a Chinese government vessel to make an incursion into waters off the coast of Aomori Prefecture. What is the Government’s analysis of the intent and purpose of this incursion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making a comment on behalf of the Government concerning the objective or intent of the passage by Chinese vessels. I have received a report that Japan received advance notification from China that two Chinese Coast Guard vessels would make passage through the Tsushima Strait and Tsugaru Strait and onward to the Pacific Ocean.

(Abridged)

Page Top

Related Link