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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 25, 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.)

North Korea has repeatedly conducted provocative acts, launching an ICBM-class ballistic missile on July 4 and July 28, and further making a public announcement that it will launch a ballistic missile towards the areas around Guam that would fly over Japanese territory. Furthermore, North Korea has not demonstrated any concrete actions towards the resolution of the abductions issue, which is a top priority of the Abe administration. In today’s Cabinet meeting, we approved the designation of an additional six entities and two individuals as entities and individuals subject to measures such as asset freeze as part of Japan’s further measures, which will be implemented in cooperation with the relevant countries, including the United States, to comprehensively resolve outstanding issues such as the abductions and nuclear and missile program issues. Japan will continue to strongly urge North Korea to take concrete actions towards the resolution of the outstanding issues, including the nuclear and missile program issues and the abductions issue, our top priority issue, based on the consistent policy of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action.”

Q&As

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the activities of North Korea. North Korea is celebrating an anniversary today. Could you please share if there are any signs of a military provocation, and the Government’s response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly working to gather and analyze information related to nuclear and missile developments by North Korea with serious concern. Due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from making comments on individual, specific details and analyses. We will continue to collaborate closely with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in urging North Korea to refrain from provocations and comply with relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. In order to protect the lives and properties of the Japanese people, the Government is maintaining an advanced monitoring and surveillance structure. The Government will make every effort, such as information gathering and monitoring and surveillance, with a sense of urgency and take all possible measures to secure the peace and security of Japan to be able to respond to any situation.

REPORTER: It has been pointed out that North Korea may be developing a new, three-stage ballistic missile called the “Hwasong-13.” What is the Government’s analysis on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is constantly gathering and analyzing information related to nuclear and missile developments in North Korea with maximum attention and concern. Due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from responding about their details.

REPORTER: In your opening remarks you explained there were additional entities and individuals subject to the Government’s asset freeze. Is my understanding correct that they refer to companies in China and Namibia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding the additional entities and individuals, we decided to designate an additional six entities and two individuals for the asset freeze in close collaboration with the relevant countries, including the United States, taking into consideration the measures taken by the United States on August 22. The additional entities and individuals include four entities and one individual in China, and additionally two Namibian entities.

REPORTER: What achievements does the Government expect from today’s measures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, it is extremely important that North Korea complies with UNSC resolutions. We believe it is critically important to put pressure on North Korea in this way in coordination with countries such as the United States and the ROK.

REPORTER: I have one further related question. Concerning North Korea, President Trump of the United States wrote on Twitter that “Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision.” Some perceive this to mean that confrontation between the United States and North Korea was avoided. Does the Government share President Trump’s view of the current situation in North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and the United States are seizing a variety of opportunities to align our policies regarding the response to North Korea while collaborating closely with each other. At this time it is necessary to put greater pressure on North Korea. With regard to this point, during the telephone talk between our leaders on August 15, the two sides agreed that at this time the international community should unite to put greater pressure on North Korea. Additionally in the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee meeting (2+2 meeting), the two countries agreed to further strengthen effective pressure on North Korea towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Under the principles of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action,” Japan will continue to strongly urge North Korea to take concrete actions towards denuclearization while closely collaborating with the relevant countries including the United States.

REPORTER: In regard to North Korea, you just met with Ambassador William Hagerty of the United States. According to the ambassador the North Korea issue came up in your discussions. What did you two discuss?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Ambassador Hagerty is very highly trusted by President Trump. I welcomed his appointment, and further expressed my hope that the ambassador fulfills an active role in a wide range of areas of the Japan-U.S. relationship. Additionally, I stated that I looked forward to working towards the further strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance together with the ambassador, and requested his cooperation in alleviating the impact of military bases on Okinawa. The ambassador expressed his desire to make every effort to strengthen the great Japan-U.S. Alliance. We also exchanged opinions on the circumstances surrounding the North Korea issue. I would, however, like to refrain from commenting on the details.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm a point relating to North Korea. Could you once again share the significance and objectives of adding new entities and individuals subject to the sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding the addition of entities and individuals subject to measures against North Korea, as the situation continues to be extremely severe, now is the time for surrounding countries to apply pressure, centered around Japan, the United States and the ROK. Under such circumstances, we will take measures in collaboration with the countries. To make North Korea understand that fact, it is extremely important that we take measures in collaboration with each other.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about the Northern Territories. Prime Minister Medvedev of Russia signed a decision designating Shikotan Island of the Northern Territories as a special economic zone. Can you please tell us what the Government knows?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware of these reports. The Government is closely monitoring the actions of the Russian side surrounding the Four Northern Islands. While gathering information and carrying out analysis regarding this matter, we have clearly informed Japan’s position regarding this matter to the Russian side, and we will continue to take appropriate responses. In any event, resolving the Northern Territories issue in itself is essential. The Government will continue to persistently pursue negotiations with Russia based on the basic policy of concluding a peace treaty by resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Some have pointed out that this may impact the joint economic activities which Japan and Russia are trying to advance. What are the Government’s thoughts on these opinions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA:  Firstly, joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands are based on the premise that they would not undermine Japan’s legal position, and at the Japan-Russia Summit meeting next month, we will steadily move the discussions forward on this matter. The Government will continue to steadily carry out persistent negotiations with Russia based on the basic policy of concluding a peace treaty by resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I believe you just stated that the Government has informed the Russian side of its views. What response did you receive from the Russian side?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this is a diplomatic issue, I would like to refrain from discussing individual interactions.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to return to the Northern Territories issue. You stated that the Government conveyed its position and views to Russia. Was that done in response to the recent designation of the special zone?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is continuously monitoring developments on the Russian side regarding the Northern Territories issue, and has continuously informed the Russian side of Japan’s position, and will continue to carry out an appropriate response.

REPORTER: Can you confirm that nothing new was communicated to Russia in response to the recent designation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, we are continuing to gather and analyze information.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about the issue of the requisition of labor workers. Regarding the requisition of labor workers, President Moon Jae-in of the ROK has indicated that he will recognize individuals’ right to claim compensation from Japanese companies. I believe this goes against the Government’s recognition that this matter has been settled. Does the Government have any concern that this labor worker requisition issue will become a new issue that affects the Japan-ROK relationship?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Japan’s official stance is that the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK already entirely and finally resolved problems regarding property claims between the two countries, including issues related to requisition of labor workers in the private sector. In any case, President Moon has also repeatedly stated until now that the Japan-ROK relationship should be developed in a future-oriented manner, and that he would like to cooperate and strengthen cooperation in a wide range of fields and move the Japan-ROK relationship forward.

REPORTER: Regarding the labor worker requisition issue, it has been reported that when Foreign Minister Kono recently held a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, he protested the response of the ROK side. Have you received any such reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that at the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Manilla in the Philippines on August 7, Foreign Minister Kono raised a concise question regarding the issue concerning the requisition of labor workers from the private sector. I would like to refrain from disclosing further details regarding diplomatic interactions.

REPORTER: I have one further related question. It has been reported that Foreign Minister Kono has declined to attend the Forum for East Asia - Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting being held in the ROK from the 29th, as a way of expressing his opinion regarding the labor worker requisition issue. Is this being done to protest on the labor worker requisition issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is absolutely unrelated. Arrangements are currently being made for State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakane to attend the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of FEALAC. In any case, it is not true that Foreign Minister Kono declined to attend the meeting in response to the issue of the requisition of private sector labor workers.

REPORTER: Yesterday morning, bombers of the Chinese military carried out training in which they passed through the airspace between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island on a flight to the waters off the Kii Peninsula. While there was reportedly no violation of territorial airspace, the Chinese side has stated that such training will be held frequently going forward. Please share the Government’s comment.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As national security and defense are a top priority for Japan, we are continuously carrying out monitoring and surveillance. Regarding yesterday’s incident, we have confirmed that yesterday morning, six Chinese bombers passed between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island and flew towards the northeast Pacific Ocean to the waters off the Kii Peninsula. During this time, there was no violation of territorial airspace. I have received a report that this is the first time Chinese aircraft have been confirmed on the route. The Government will closely monitor the activities of China which is continuing to expand its activities, and take all possible measures to maintain its monitoring and surveillance activities with the determination to resolutely protect Japan’s territorial land, waters and airspace, and carry out strict sovereign airspace anti-violation measures in accordance with international law and the Self-Defense Forces Act.

(Abridged)
 

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