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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 7, 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 extraordinary Cabinet meeting and others.)

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the accident on August 5, in which an Osprey aircraft crashed in Australia. Could I ask what the Government's understanding is with regard to the seriousness of this accident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, after the Government received the first notification from the U.S. Forces, we issued a request for the provision of further information, an investigation into the cause, and the swift implementation of measures to prevent a reoccurrence. The Government also requested that the U.S. Forces refrain from flying Osprey aircraft in Japan.

REPORTER: Given that a serious accident involving Osprey aircraft occurred in December last year and the accident investigation report for that accident has yet to be submitted, some people are of the opinion that if the Government is considering the lives of the people of Okinawa it should seek the cessation of all flights until a proper investigation into the cause of the accident has been conducted and countermeasures established to prevent a reoccurrence. A request to refrain from engaging in flights in Japan would appear to be a rather lenient response. Can I ask for your views on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the Government considers that ensuring safety is a prerequisite to flights of U.S. military aircraft. When we receive information relating to this latest accident we will provide thorough explanations to the relevant local governments. Furthermore, we will be requesting the U.S. side to pay maximum attention to safety aspects and endeavor to minimize the impact on local residents.

REPORTER: Given that accidents have occurred in succession, is it still the Government's recognition that the Osprey aircraft is safe?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the latest accident occurred outside Japan. We have therefore requested the U.S. side to investigate thoroughly the cause of the accident. In any event, I understand that the U.S. authorities are currently investigating the accident and we will engage in due consideration based on information that is provided by the United States relating to the circumstances.

REPORTER: Osprey aircraft are scheduled to participate in joint Japan-U.S. exercises in Hokkaido from August 10. Are we to understand that following the latest accident the participation of Osprey aircraft will be postponed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Ministry of Defense has requested the U.S. side to refrain from flying Osprey aircraft and I have received a report that based on this request the Ministry is working with the U.S. side on how to handle the participation of Osprey aircraft in the upcoming exercises.

REPORTER: I understand that the Government is requesting that the U.S. side investigate the cause of the accident. Are we to understand that, until a clear response is received from the U.S. about the case, the Government's position is that Osprey aircraft should not be flown, including in the joint exercises in Hokkaido?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I understand that the United States is currently in the process of investigating the circumstances of the latest accident. In terms of our response, we will engage in due consideration based on information that is provided by the U.S. side relating to the circumstances.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. Foreign Minister Kono has made his diplomatic debut at the ASEAN-related Foreign Ministers' meetings. Various foreign ministerial meetings are scheduled, including Japan-Russia, and Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK). Can I ask how you evaluate Minister Kono's performance thus far, such as his response to the new resolution of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against North Korea, and what your expectations are of him?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that immediately upon taking up his post as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister Kono is already working with tremendous vigor in meetings that include the Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the Japan-Mekong Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and various bilateral ministerial meetings, including with the Philippines. Today a number of meetings are scheduled to be held in rapid succession, including the ASEAN+3 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers' Meeting and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting. I hope that Minister Kono will convey Japan's positions on a variety of regional issues, including North Korea, based on our national interests, to both domestic and international audiences.

REPORTER: I have a question about the UNSC resolution that was recently adopted that imposes further sanctions on North Korea. Could you tell us the Government's evaluation of this resolution and what will be necessary to ensure its effective implementation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the new resolution was unanimously adopted by the UNSC and the Government highly appreciates the extremely strong sanctions measures that have been imposed on North Korea. The new resolution incorporates three key points, starting with a total ban on imports of coal, iron and iron ore from North Korea. It also places a total ban on imports of seafood and lead from North Korea. Furthermore, for the first time ever this resolution imposes a limit on the total number of work authorizations issued to North Korean workers in UN Member States. It is anticipated that the implementation of this resolution will reduce North Korea's foreign currency revenues by more than US$1 billion annually. In that sense, the Government recognizes that the contents of this latest resolution are extremely potent.

REPORTER: I have a related question. China has approved this resolution, so what is the Government's view on whether China will fully implement the measures stipulated in the resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, all UN Member States are legally obliged to implement the UNSC resolution. The details of obligations in the three points I have just mentioned are extremely clear. Japan will continue to work with the United States and the ROK, including in the forum of the Sanctions Committee of the UNSC, and also cooperate with China and Russia as we make active efforts to ensure that this resolution is fully implemented.

REPORTER: I have a related question. What is the Government's view concerning the possibility that North Korea will resort to provocative actions in response to the adoption of this resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government constantly works to collect and analyze information about North Korea and we are making every endeavor to make full preparations to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan and ensure their safety and security.

REPORTER: In a meeting between China and the United States concerning the resolution on North Korea, the Chinese side touched on dialogue with North Korea. What options does the Government of Japan see in requesting China to take a further role in responding to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan, the United States and the ROK have already agreed that it is necessary to strengthen pressure on North Korea. We are also approaching China and Russia through diplomatic channels to call on them to also step up pressure and I believe that the adoption of this latest resolution, which contains very severe measures, demonstrates that our approaches to China and Russia have had an effect. In any event, the Government will continue to make every effort to ensure that the contents of the resolution are implemented.

REPORTER: Will the Government be requesting China to halt imports of oil?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, it is said that the three measures detailed in the resolution will reduce North Korea's foreign currency revenues by one-third. This amounts to more than US$1 billion and in that sense, the measures are extremely severe.

(Abridged)

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