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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 28, 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

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question related to North Korea’s missile launch. With North Korea still appearing to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile, various countries are elevating their state of alert for a missile launch. Can you please tell us what the Government knows at this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government is constantly striving to collect and analyze information regarding North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities with utmost concern. Due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from commenting on the specific details.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Yesterday marked the 64th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. Does the Government perceive that North Korea is preparing to conduct a missile launch in view of this anniversary, or in order to confront the United States ahead of the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises next month?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are leading the efforts to collect and analyze information on a whole range of matters. The Government has the very important responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the people of Japan, and therefore, is taking all possible measures on a day-to-day basis.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Osprey training in Hokkaido. This afternoon the Ministry of Defense (MOD) will announce that a Japan-U.S. joint exercise would be held in August in Hokkaido, which is set to include large area flights of the Osprey. The Governments of Japan and the United States agreed to expand Osprey relocation exercises last September, and this upcoming exercise in Hokkaido will be the second exercise to be held in Japan. I understand that one of the objectives of the exercise is to alleviate the burden of U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture. What significance does the Government attach to the upcoming relocation exercise?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the Osprey aircraft of the U.S. Forces, at a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee last September, a framework was established to relocate the Ospreys deployed to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAP) Futenma to locations outside of Okinawa Prefecture in order to alleviate the impact of military bases in Okinawa. To put this framework into practice, exercises were conducted in Guam in September 2016 and Osprey exercises in Niigata and Gunma Prefectures in March 2017. We are now making preparations to hold the exercise you mentioned in Hokkaido this August.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of the MOD’s special defense inspections. The inspection results noted that the Ground Self-Defense Force command center and others decided not to disclose the information, fearing that doing so would lead to increases in information disclosure requests. Some have stated that the string of problems all started with the situation in South Sudan being perceived differently between the personnel on the ground and the Government, which has consistently responded at the Diet that there was no combat but an armed conflict in South Sudan. What are your thoughts regarding such claims?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that was not the case. The units dispatched to South Sudan were engineering units and were engaged in road repair and other activities. They fulfilled their responsibility as a member unit of the peacekeeping operation in a very safe environment, and their activities were highly appreciated. This is a fact.

REPORTER: I have a question about the Minister for Foreign Affairs concurrently serving as the Minister of Defense. A short while ago you stated that all possible measures are being taken to protect the safety and security of the Japanese people. Though it will only be for a short while, Minister Kishida is concurrently serving two key ministerial posts amid talk about a possible missile launch by North Korea. I have a naïve question. Can the work really get done under this structure? People have some concerns about this.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Minister for Foreign Affairs attends the meetings of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2) given the critical importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance for Japan, and is also a member of Japan’s National Security Council. Under these circumstances, it was decided that Minister Kishida would concurrently serve as Minister of Defense so as to not cause dysfunctions on the security front.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. I have a question about the sale of the semiconductor business of Toshiba that is undergoing corporate reorganization. The Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) announced that a final bid has been made to the Toshiba side for the sales negotiations. Meanwhile, the CEO of Western Digital, which is opposed to the sale, is stressing that negotiations would be continued to find a solution. Toshiba and Western Digital have become entangled in a messy lawsuit. How does the Government view the current situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I would like to refrain from commenting on matters related to a listed company. That said, we believe Toshiba granted first refusal right to a consortium that includes INCJ, considering it as a preferred bidder overall for Toshiba’s sale of its memory subsidiary. We understand that arrangements are now being made to reach a final agreement, and we will closely follow the related developments. With regard to Western Digital and Toshiba, as the two companies manage the Yokkaichi Plant together, we hope that they will set forth a future direction by holding in-depth discussions with each other.

(Abridged)

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