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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 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 was a statement on the overview of the Cabinet meeting.)

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the Japan-Russia summit meeting that took place yesterday. I believe that major themes for the meeting were the response to North Korea and joint economic activities in  the Northern Territories. Could you tell us your evaluation of the outcomes of the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Abe held his 19th Japan-Russia summit meeting with President Putin for over three hours. With respect to the issue of concluding a peace treaty, on joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands, the two leaders designated five candidate projects to be undertaken promptly. The two leaders shared the view that additional field surveys will be carried out in early October in order to examine these five candidate projects. Also, with regard to humanitarian measures for former island residents, the two leaders confirmed that special grave visits by airplane will take place later in September. With regard to the issue of North Korea, the two leaders shared recognition that the nuclear test by North Korea on September 3 constitutes a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region. They also shared the view that Japan and Russia will continue to collaborate closely. Over the course of three hours, the two leaders engaged in open and frank exchanges of opinions, which resulted in specific outcomes such as the designation of candidate projects for joint economic activities to be undertaken promptly. They also confirmed their shared recognition that the nuclear test by North Korea constitutes a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region. It was highly significant in that Japan and Russia were able to confirm their close cooperation.

REPORTER: It appears that President Putin maintained his stance of focusing on dialogue with North Korea, so what kind of approaches did Japan make toward the adoption of a new United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Through concerted efforts among  Japan, the U.S., and the ROK, as well as other members of the UNSC and the international community, Japan will make every effort to strengthen pressure on North Korea so that it changes its policies.

REPORTER: On the topic of joint economic activities, you have just mentioned that it was agreed to conduct additional field surveys early next month, so could you tell us what sort of time frame the Government is anticipating toward the realization of joint economic activities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the plan is to conduct additional field surveys in October, after which more detailed considerations will be required. Specific discussions will also take place on legal frameworks. I would imagine that a future direction and specific activities will be determined after detailed considerations have taken place.

REPORTER: For joint economic activities to be implemented, it will be essential to establish a special system in a manner that does not harm the legal positions of either side. When does the Government expect that such a special system will be realized?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Now that five candidate projects have been identified, additional field surveys will be implemented at the beginning of October that will engage in more detailed considerations based on local conditions. Consideration will also be given to legal frameworks and I expect that specific discussions will take place to that end.

REPORTER: Russia is moving to designate the island of Shikotan as a special economic zone, so do you think that if the Government of Russia advances development of such a zone under Russian legal frameworks it would be possible to engage in joint economic activities on that island?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the prerequisite for joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands is that they do not harm Japan’s legal position. Based on the outcomes of the summit meeting, this is something that will naturally be discussed going forward. In such discussions, we will engage tenaciously with the Russian side under our basic policy of resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and concluding a peace treaty.

REPORTER: In the summit meeting yesterday, did the Prime Minister make any kind of comment or discuss the Russian intention behind the designation of the Four Northern Islands as a special economic zone in August?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I would like to refrain from discussing the details, we will be proceeding with this matter based on the recognition that the prerequisite for joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands is that they do not harm our legal position.

REPORTER: On the point about joint economic activities, Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev of Russia has stated that the Government of Japan should come up with specific policies within two months, indicating that unless progress is made Russia will accept third country investors to participate in activities. What is the Government’s view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on individual press reports. As I have just stated, in the Japan-Russia summit meeting, with regard to joint economic activities, the two leaders designated five candidate projects to be undertaken promptly and shared the view that additional field surveys will be carried out in early October in order to examine these five candidate projects. I believe that everything that concerns this matter was confirmed by the leaders.

REPORTER: If it is actually the case that third country investors will be allowed to participate as Russia has stated, I imagine this would also have a major impact on negotiations on the Northern Territories. Do you have a comment on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from responding to hypothetical questions. The Government’s basic policy is to resolve the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and to conclude a peace treaty.

REPORTER: With regard to sanctions on North Korea, although at the summit meeting yesterday the leaders confirmed their shared recognition of the threat posed by North Korea, did Prime Minister Abe make any specific requests for cooperation on the adoption of an additional resolution on sanctions that includes a ban on oil exports to North Korea, for example?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I would like to refrain from going into the details of the summit meeting, Japan’s position is that it is necessary to strengthen measures against North Korea. Given the necessity of adopting a resolution soon in the UNSC, where discussions are currently taking place, we will continue to make every effort, working closely with the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other UNSC members, as well as the Republic of Korea (ROK), and also maintaining communication with China and Russia, as we seek to achieve such a resolution.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question concerning North Korea’s allusion to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. As EMP attacks destroy social infrastructure, they have the capacity to seriously impact even those regions that are not directly targeted in an attack and it is this unpredictability that makes them so formidable. Many countries recognize this point and as you noted yesterday, if Japan is working to collect and analyze information with the greatest concern, it is likely that countries other than Japan, the United States and the ROK are also working actively on response measures to North Korea. Do you have a comment on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I noted yesterday that we will engage in Government-wide considerations on the necessary response measures to such a situation. Due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from discussing the specific areas under consideration. However, as you noted, it is important to engage in international cooperation and we will work to strengthen such cooperation, where necessary surveying the status of countermeasures in other countries and also providing information from our side too.

REPORTER: Have you received any new information about the moves of the Osprey aircraft of U.S. Forces currently parked at Oita Airport?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the Osprey aircraft parked at Oita Airport, I understand that after further engine and equipment tests this morning it departed for Iwakuni base at 10:35 a.m.
 

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