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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 6, 2017 (PM)

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: Following the nuclear test by North Korea, former Defense Minister Mr. Shigeru Ishiba has advocated from the perspective of improving deterrence capabilities that there should be a discussion on whether to deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on Japanese soil, and that there should also be a national discussion on revision of the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. What is the Government’s view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government firmly maintains its policy of adhering to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. In addition, in the law, the Atomic Energy Basic Act stipulates that the research, development and utilization of nuclear energy shall be limited to peaceful purposes. As a non-nuclear-weapon state, under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, it is our duty not to seek to possess or manufacture nuclear weapons. To date the Government has not at any point discussed revising the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and we have no intention of entering into such discussion.

REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea’s nuclear test. The Defense Minister has announced that the estimated size of the explosion was approximately 160 kilotons, according to the outcomes of the analysis by an international organization. The previous five tests by North Korea were on a scale of between 1 and 12 kilotons, and suddenly the recent test was more than 10 times larger than any before. Is it the Government’s recognition that North Korea’s nuclear development has therefore made significant progress?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government recognizes that as the size of the nuclear test was far larger than any previous tests the assumption cannot be discounted that North Korea has made a certain degree of progress in technological development. In any event, we are currently working closely with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to fully analyze the details of the nuclear test by North Korea.

REPORTER: I have a related question. North Korea has announced through press reports following the test that it had completely succeeded in conducting a test of a hydrogen bomb capable of being loaded on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). If this is true it would mean that North Korea can implement a longer-range nuclear attack, so what is the Government’s recognition concerning the level of threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to refrain from making any comment about whether or not North Korea was successful in testing a miniaturized warhead-type nuclear weapon based on presumption. It will be necessary to continue to examine whether North Korea has demonstrated the technological capacity for a nuclear warhead-tipped missile to reenter the atmosphere. In any event, we will continue to work closely with the United States and the ROK to fully analyze the details of the recent nuclear test by North Korea.

REPORTER: Given that a certain level of technological progress cannot be discounted, in forums such as the United Nations how does the Government intend to share its recognition of the level of threat with countries such as China and Russia that have influence over North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is a matter that will be raised in discussions at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and we will emphasize our position in that forum.

REPORTER: Given that North Korea went ahead with another nuclear test on Sunday, do you not think that it is no longer realistic to expect that North Korea will simply give up all of its nuclear weapons? Does the Government believe that it is still possible to compel North Korea to abandon all of its nuclear weapons?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no change in our policy of working together with other countries concerned in making every effort to place pressure on North Korea to urge the country to change its policies.

REPORTER: However, no matter how many times other countries have urged North Korea, it has continuously refused to change its policies. Therefore, does the Government not consider that now is the time for Japan to change its own policy and abandon dialogue and pressure and instead focus exclusively on the defense of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is taking all possible measures day-to-day to protect the lives, properties and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan. Looking ahead, there will be no change to our policy of engaging in various measures to ensure the safety of the nation.

REPORTER: To state my question a little more clearly, if North Korea refuses to change its stance, is the Government considering options to halt diplomatic approaches such as “dialogue and pressure” and instead focus exclusively on a policy of defending Japan rather than a policy of cooperating with the United States and the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that North Korea has breached international law in succession, the international community has responded firmly with the adoption of UNSC resolutions. In any future resolutions it will be necessary to place pressure on North Korea to fully abide by each and every one of the stipulations of UNSC resolutions, given that it also has a role to play as a member of the international community.

REPORTER: So can I take that the Government is not contemplating any measures to further build up Japan’s defense capabilities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My response is as I have just described it.

REPORTER: By saying that, are you referring to your first comment, in which you stated that Japan will continue to work closely with the United States and the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will work closely with those countries and are also taking all possible measures to protect the lives, properties and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: Yesterday it was reported by some media outlets that the Government is considering providing full loan assurances to banks providing capital to Hitachi, Ltd., which is planning to build nuclear plants in the United Kingdom. The scale of these loan assurances will amount to several hundred billion yen. As you are well aware, there is a possibility with nuclear power construction projects overseas that costs will escalate tremendously, as seen in the case in which Toshiba Corporation suffered a 650 billion yen loss. Could you tell us whether the Government is currently considering loan assurances to megabanks?

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

REPORTER: I am sure you are aware that the export of nuclear power plant technology to the Government of Lithuania has been frozen. The project to export nuclear power plant technology to Viet Nam has also been withdrawn. In Turkey too, it is questionable whether the costs of nuclear plant construction can be recouped due to the unstable political situation. The current situation is therefore one in which nuclear power plant exports are facing difficulties. Amid such circumstances I understand that the Government’s policy is to proactively seek to export nuclear plant technologies to the United Kingdom. However, there are concerns that if something were to happen it could ultimately result in the injection of taxpayers’ money from Japan. What is the Government’s view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no change to the Government’s stance of promoting measures where they need to be promoted, in accordance with relevant rules.

REPORTER: If the Government acts in accordance with rules, then if an accident were to occur, it is likely that Japanese taxpayers’ money could start to be used for nuclear power plant export projects, just as taxpayers’ money was used for the regions surrounding Fukushima. Based on the experiences of March 11, 2011, does the Government really consider it necessary to promote nuclear power plant exports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government on individual press reports.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-Russia summit meeting. At the end of this month, former island residents from the Northern Territories will be making grave visits by airplane for the first time. At the upcoming summit meeting will the Government be requesting the continuation of such visits from next year onwards?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Prime Minister has departed for Vladivostok and the summit meeting is about to take place, I would like to refrain from making any comments about the details of the summit based on presumption.

REPORTER: Prior to the Prime Minister’s departure today, the former island residents expressed their desire for the realization of freedom of travel to and from the islands. What does the Prime Minister intend to request in the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The issue of realizing free visits for former island residents is a matter that has been discussed in previous summit meetings in April and also in July. We will continue to have further concrete discussions and meetings on this issue and therefore at the current point I would like to refrain from making any comment about the details based on presumption. However, in the Japan-Russia summit meeting in July it is a fact that the two leaders agreed to engage in coordination to realize special grave visits by airplane at an appropriate time in September.

REPORTER: You have just spoken about grave visits by former island residents, but how will the Government be seeking to find a way to realize free visits for persons other than former residents to engage in exchange programs, for example?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that meetings on this topic from now on will come up with various directions in which we may proceed.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Returning to the topic of the export of nuclear power plant technologies, although I understand that you would like to refrain from discussing individual press reports, in my interviews I have heard that Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr. Takuya Imai and CEO and Executive Managing Director of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Mr. Tadashi Maeda have been active proponents of the scheme in question. With regard to this point too, can I ask you to provide a response on whether the Government has made a decision that the export of nuclear power plant technologies overseas is necessary, and that by providing loan assurances in the case of non-performing debt it has determined that in a contingency situation the injection of taxpayers’ money may be inevitable?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: You stated in your question that you had heard about this matter. I would appreciate it if your questions were based on facts rather than conjecture and then I would be happy to respond. If your question is based on something that you heard, I would like to refrain from responding.

REPORTER: My understanding was that it was a well-known fact, as detailed in various press reports, that Executive Secretary Imai is an active proponent of the scheme. Is this not the Government’s view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, what I am saying is that I would like to refrain from responding to matters raised in individual press reports.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, concerning research funding for the development of missiles in the defense budget. I was under the impression that discussion on a capability to strike adversary bases is still ongoing. However, the research funding for the development of missiles detailed in the budget include allocations for high-velocity glide missiles and range improvements to anti-ship missiles, which looks as if preparations are being made for a strike on adversary bases with North Korea in mind. Could you tell us whether such research and development are to be implemented based on the wishes of the National Security Council (NSC) or the Prime Minister’s Office, rather than on discussion within the Ministry of Defense, and what is the Government’s view on the current active efforts to research and develop missile technologies and the envisaged budgetary allocation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe I stated yesterday that the Government is not considering the development of a capability to strike adversary bases.

REPORTER: Although the Government is stating that it is not contemplating the development of a strike capability, some have observed that the actual budget requests for research and development suggest that the Government intends to extend the range of missiles, which is very similar to developing a strike capability, and therefore there is some inconsistency between what the Government is saying on the one hand and the budget request details. Do you have a comment on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is not the case. I suggest you direct your question to the Ministry of Defense.
 

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