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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 15, 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 Remarks
(There were statements on the overview of the Cabinet meeting and others.)

In today's Cabinet meeting, it was confirmed that the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, will be invited to make an official visit to Japan from August 30 to September 1. During her stay in Japan, Prime Minister May will be received in audience by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe will hold a meeting with Prime Minister May, and host a dinner in her honor. Japan and the UK are global strategic cooperative partners who share fundamental values. We hope that the upcoming visit by Prime Minister May will further strengthen the cooperation between Japan and the UK in a wide range of fields, including security, the economy and others.

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about addressing the situation related to North Korea. Prime Minister Abe and President Trump will soon hold a telephone talk. What matters related to North Korea will Prime Minister Abe and President Trump confirm?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, Prime Minister Abe and President Trump have held frequent telephone meetings until now, and have a relationship in which they can talk to each other whenever it is necessary. I believe this is a result of the robust relationship of trust between the two leaders. The upcoming telephone talk is being held in response to the current situation in North Korea. I expect that Prime Minister Abe and President Trump will hold frank discussions on measures for addressing the situation in North Korea based on the robust relationship of trust they have developed, which will lead to even closer cooperation between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Will the two leaders primarily reaffirm the policy of increasing pressure on North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, I expect that Prime Minister Abe and President Trump will hold a candid exchange of views regarding measures for addressing the situation in North Korea, which will lead to even closer cooperation between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: I have another question related to North Korea. According to some press reports, during his exchange of views with Foreign Minister Kono on August 6, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ri Yong Ho of North Korea was trying to seek dialogue with Japan. Some observers are of the opinion that North Korea is hoping for Japan to facilitate direct negotiations between North Korean and the United States. Could you please share the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I am aware of those reports. Furthermore, Minister Kono reported to me that he raised the abduction issue and issues related to security such as North Korea's nuclear and missile development, and once again stated Japan's basic stance on these matters. However, I would like to refrain from further comments on the matter, including the reaction of the other side.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson of the United States jointly contributed an article to a U.S. newspaper stating their thoughts that the United States is willing to negotiate with North Korea if it stops its provocative acts. Is the Government of Japan in agreement with this U.S. stance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I am aware that the contributed article you have mentioned once again explained the U.S. policy towards North Korea. Japan and the United States are taking various opportunities to confirm our close cooperation and to coordinate our policies. As the security environment in the region grows increasingly severe, we consider it extremely important to secure the deterrence of the United States. From that viewpoint, the Government highly values the position of the Trump administration, which is exhibited through its words and actions, that all options are on the table. Utilizing the opportunity of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (”2+2“ meeting) planned for August 17, we will continue to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is completely meaningless, and it is critical that we apply pressure on North Korea to ensure that it demonstrates its sincere intention and concrete actions towards denuclearization. In the Japan-U.S. telephone summit talk held on July 31, the two leaders agreed that it is necessary to apply the maximum possible pressure on North Korea. Japan will increase pressure on North Korea and strongly urge it to take concrete actions to resolve the outstanding issues of concern, while cooperating closely with related countries, particularly the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), including at the United Nations, and seeking a greater role from China and Russia,.

REPORTER: I have a related question about the press reports. You have stated that dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless and I believe the Government's current stance is focused on pressure more than dialogue. However, if, hypothetically, a message were received from the North Korean side stating that it would be prepared to hold dialogue, would the Government currently be prepared to respond to that request?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on hypothetical situations. In any case, dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless and we will work together closely with the United States based on this stance.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. There are some press reports that over 50,000 spam e-mails in Chinese have been sent to official email addresses used by members of the House of Representatives. Afterwards, through our own investigations, our agency came to understand that there were in fact members of the House of Representatives who have received such emails. Could you please share the facts of the matter as currently understood by the Government, and whether you have received any such emails?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I have received no reports from my Diet office. I am, however, aware of the reports. Speaking in general terms, I understand that the obstruction that these sorts of spam emails cause to work are no trivial matter. As countermeasures such as filtering can be used in response to these emails, the Government will raise awareness of these countermeasures, and carry out an appropriate response in cooperation with the related organizations.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the issue of North Korea. My question partially overlaps with the previous one. Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis have stated that the minimum condition for holding dialogue with North Korea is an immediate cessation of provocative actions and missile launches. Does the Japanese Government also consider this to be the minimum condition for holding dialogue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and the United States are constantly maintaining close cooperation to address the situation.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Most years, the Prime Minister typically takes a summer holiday from mid-August. With the current tense situation surrounding North Korea, how will the Government handle its crisis management structure?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In regard to the personal response of the Prime Minister, if various circumstances permit, I understand that he plans to take a summer holiday while taking all the necessary preparations to ensure an appropriate response to a crisis situation, such as one relating to North Korea or a natural disaster. The Government will continue to maintain close cooperation among the related ministries, led by the Prime Minister's Office, and respond to any situation with a sense of urgency. Additionally, regarding crisis management, the Prime Minister's Office, the Prime Minister and I have fully prepared methods of communication in the event of any kind of emergency, and are able to receive reports and information even under unforeseen circumstances.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question about the comfort women issue. A private bus line has started service in Seoul in the ROK with a comfort woman statue on board. How does the Government view this development, which violates the Japan-ROK agreement, in which Japan and ROK confirmed that the comfort women issue is finally and irreversibly resolved?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, as Japan and the ROK strive to develop a future-oriented relationship, I am concerned this incident might impede those efforts. Furthermore, through diplomatic channels, we are explaining Japan's position and requesting that the ROK side make an appropriate response. As you just stated, in the Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women issue, Japan and the ROK to confirm that the comfort women issue is resolved finally and irreversibly. This agreement has been highly evaluated by the international community, and we will make persistent efforts, utilizing various opportunities, to strongly request the ROK side to steadily implement the agreement.

(Abridged)


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