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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 8, 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 and others.)

Q&As

REPORTER: The Japanese and North Korean foreign ministers exchanged views for a short while at the venue of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the evening of August 6. This was the first time in two years that the Japanese and North Korean foreign ministers had contact. Was it Japan or North Korea that proposed to hold that occasion? Also, can you please elaborate on the significance of these exchanges of views?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, to give you an overview, on August 6 the Minister for Foreign Affairs had an opportunity to exchange some remarks with Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho of North Korea, albeit for a short period of time. Minister Kono raised security issues, including the issues of abductions and nuclear and missile development, and once again conveyed Japan's basic views. As this was an interaction held for a short period of time in the waiting room during the dinner banquet, I would like to refrain from disclosing further details.

REPORTER: Which side proposed the exchange? Did it just happen?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe it was the result of the natural course of events.

REPORTER: Does the exchange of views not run counter to applying pressure on North Korea as has been confirmed among Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe your comment does not apply at all. It does not run counter to the intention of Japan, the United States, and the ROK to apply greater pressure on North Korea if the foreign ministers have contact on the margins of an international conference. In any event, to ensure that North Korea agrees to take part in serious dialogue, at fora such as the United Nations the Government will continue to work closely with the relevant countries, including the United States and the ROK, while calling on both China and Russia to take a further role, in order to strengthen the pressure on North Korea, and thereby, solve various outstanding issues.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question regarding Osprey aircraft. Japan has requested the United States to refrain from flying Osprey aircraft. However, Pentagon Spokesman Davis of the United States indicated that it intends to continue the flights, stating that there is no change for now to the Osprey's activities. Japan-U.S. joint exercises are scheduled to be held in Hokkaido on August 10, as was also mentioned in yesterday's press conference. How will the Government deal with these exercises?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I have been briefed that while taking into consideration the request made by the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to the United States to refrain from Osprey flights, we are continuing to work with the U.S. side on how to handle the participation of Osprey aircraft in the exercises. In any event, I would like to refrain from commenting on the status of the arrangements as it also concerns our counterpart. The Government will continue to strongly request the United States to pay maximum attention to safety aspects.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Has the United States explained the cause of the Osprey accident or its measures for preventing a reoccurrence?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This accident occurred outside of Japan, and I have been briefed that the United States is now investigating the circumstances of the accident. In light of the concerns being expressed in Japan, two days ago MOD requested the United States to refrain from flying Osprey aircraft in Japan, except as operationally necessary.

REPORTER: In your press conference yesterday you stated that ensuring safety is a prerequisite. As for what you meant by that, I took safety to mean investigating into the cause of the accident and taking measures to prevent a reoccurrence. Is my understanding correct?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, that is correct in principle.

REPORTER: An Osprey aircraft was flown yesterday without these measures being taken. Some local people in Okinawa are voicing criticisms that Japan may be belittled by the U.S. What do you think about these criticisms?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to yesterday's flight, the United States explained to MOD that it determined the flight was operationally necessary upon confirming its safety. In any event, I believe the United States determined that the flight was operationally necessary in view of the severe security situation at hand. In any event, the Government will continue to request the United States to pay maximum attention to safety aspects. I have been informed that the United States is still assessing the facts surrounding the accident and confirming relevant details.

REPORTER: Yesterday I mentioned that requesting the United States to refrain from conducting Osprey flights appears to be a rather lukewarm response. Now that the response has resulted in the resumption of flights, could I ask if the Government intends to request the cessation of Osprey flights?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will firmly request the United States to pay maximum attention to safety aspects.

REPORTER: Osprey flights were resumed even while the United States did not identify the cause of the accident and take measures to prevent a reoccurrence. Do you believe that the lives, properties, as well as the safety and security of the people of Okinawa are protected under such an arrangement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In this connection we will strongly request the United States to pay maximum attention to safety aspects.

(Abridged)

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