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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 6, 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: I would like to ask about joint economic activities in the four Northern Islands. It has been reported in the press that, agreements will be made on five projects, including tourism and wind power generation projects, as joint economic activities in the four Northern Islands in the summit meeting to be held between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin of Russia in Vladivostok. What is the state of the Government’s considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding joint economic activities in the four Northern Islands, in the Japan-Russia summit meeting in July, it was recognized that the local surveys of the four Northern Islands held at the end of June were extremely significant, and will lead to the acceleration of further considerations. Regarding the summit meeting, while I would like to refrain from making any comments based on conjecture at the current time, I expect that we will make progress in deliberations towards the realization of meaningful economic projects, as soon as possible, in a manner that does not harm the legal positions of either side.

REPORTER: There are reports that two director-general level working groups will be established to work out the details of the projects, and that a local survey will be held around October for the same purpose. Is this planned by the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as I just stated, regarding the economic activities, the Government expects progress to be made in discussions on the direction of such activities in the upcoming summit meeting.

REPORTER: I have a question related to the Japan-Russia summit meeting. I believe Japan might request cooperation in further strengthening sanctions against North Korea. What outcomes is the Government of Japan expecting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in the upcoming summit meeting, the two leaders are scheduled to hold a frank exchange of views on bilateral issues such as the issue of the conclusion of a peace treaty, and international affairs such as with the issue of North Korea. Regarding the conclusion of a peace treaty, we have built up frank dialogue between Japan and Russia, and, as a result of the Japan-Russia summit meeting in December 2016, we have taken concrete steps towards conducting joint economic activities on the four Northern Islands and allowing former residents of the Northern Territories to freely travel to and from the islands, and will strive to make progress towards the conclusion of the peace treaty. Furthermore, regarding the issue of North Korea, in the telephone talks held between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin on the 3 September, both leaders fully shared the same recognition of the severity of the situation, whereby North Korea’s outrageous acts pose a grave threat. Additionally, the two leaders agreed that Japan and Russia will continue to cooperate closely at a variety of levels. I expect that at the upcoming summit meeting as well, Prime Minister Abe will be able to hold a frank and constructive exchange of views with President Putin.

REPORTER: On the other hand, President Putin has continued to maintain the cautious stance that new sanctions against North Korea will be ineffective. Nevertheless, will Prime Minister Abe attempt to convince President Putin and seek his understanding in the upcoming summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the telephone talks between the Prime Minister and President Putin, the two leaders had a shared recognition of the severity of the situation, whereby North Korea’s outrageous acts pose a grave threat. Furthermore, we have held such discussions at a variety of levels between Japan and Russia, and we will continue to cooperate closely.

REPORTER: Regarding the situation in North Korea, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency has reported that the country’s nuclear weapons could hypothetically be used as electromagnetic pulse bombs. There are concerns that, if an electromagnetic pulse attack were to hypothetically occur, it would result in power outages and other ill effects that would paralyze urban functions. How does the Government intend to respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware that North Korea has made such an announcement. The Government is continuously gathering and analyzing information on the military developments of North Korea, including such weapon developments, with the utmost concern. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on the details based on the nature of the matter.

REPORTER: The Ministry of Defense announced that the energy released from the nuclear weapon test that was recently carried out by North Korea was 160 kilotons, over 10 times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. You expressed the view that the possibility of it being a hydrogen bomb cannot be ruled out, but have there been any developments in your views and analysis?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no change from my previous statement. The possibility of the recent nuclear test being a hydrogen bomb cannot be ruled out. In practical terms, we need to carefully analyze the details, and that analysis is currently underway. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has recently calculated and confirmed that the magnitude of the seismic activity resulting from the recent nuclear test by North Korea was 6.1. In that sense, the possibility of it being a hydrogen bomb cannot be ruled out.

REPORTER: On Twitter, President Trump stated that he would allow Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to purchase highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States. What is the Government of Japan’s response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In order to strengthen our national defense capabilities, to date, Japan has been acquiring cutting-edge U.S. equipment, including F-35s. Furthermore, the equipment of the Self-Defense Forces is indispensable for ensuring the defense of Japan based on the guidelines of the National Defense Program Guidelines and Medium Term Defense Program, and Japan acquires such equipment, including equipment from the United States, in a systematic manner. We will continue to steadily build-up our defense capabilities.

 (Abridged)

REPORTER: Parts of the dialogue that took place in the telephone talks between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump on 15 August was reported on in a broadcast by Fuji Television at 9AM. In response to the Prime Minister’s statement that he absolutely wanted President Trump to avoid going to war, and that if a contingency were to occur, it would lead to major casualties, President Trump stated that he had decided to engage in dialogue with Chairman Kim. He further stated that as preparations were not currently made for war, he had no intentions of going to war at this time, but that in his negotiations he would demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and if North Korea would not do so, he would have no hesitation and would not hold back, and by that time preparations for a strike on North Korea would likely be completed. Such detailed information has been reported. What is the Government’s view at the current stage?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is not the place to provide answers regarding television reports.

REPORTER: Is it a problem that various points that have been reported in the media are part of the questions being asked in this press conference?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What I am saying is that the details of summit telephone talks are never made public, and that I do not think it is appropriate for me, as a representative of the Government of Japan, to answer.

REPORTER: I have heard that a deadline of Christmas has been indicated in meetings and other ongoing dialogue. There are reports that the ROK will establish its unit for decapitation missions in December. I would like to know whether or not, coinciding with this, the Government considers December of this year, specifically Christmas, as being a possible deadline?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on such reports.
 

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