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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 31, 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]


REPORTER: I have a question about some documents submitted to UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Register. UNESCO has announced its recommended nominations list  for the MoW Register. It has decided to postpone a decision on the inscription of documents relating to the comfort women that were submitted by civil society groups in Japan, China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and others. The civil society groups emphasized that comfort women were sexual slaves of the former Imperial Japanese Army, a position that was inconsistent with that of the Government of Japan. Can I ask for a comment from the Government concerning UNESCO’s decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the early hours of this morning, Japan time, UNESCO announced its recommended nominations list for inscription on the MoW Register. I understand that the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the MoW Programme has recommended postponing a decision on the inscription of documents relating to comfort women, and creating opportunities for dialogues among the concerned parties.  This recommendation has been approved by Director-General Irina Bokova of UNESCO. To date the Government of Japan has been working to ensure that the MoW Programme adheres to UNESCO’s founding mission and purpose of promoting friendship and mutual understanding among member countries. It was against this backdrop that on October 18, the Executive Board of UNESCO unanimously approved a resolution that calls on all persons at UNESCO to abide by the principles of dialogue, mutual understanding and respect and to avoid further political tensions . The Government considers that the decision made by the IAC on this occasion is an appropriate response that is based on the points set out in the recent resolution. The Government will continue to engage as a responsible member of UNESCO in various initiatives, including efforts to improve the system relating to the MoW Programme.

REPORTER: It seems to me that the inscription of the comfort women documents has been avoided through the efforts made by the Government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and civil society groups in Japan. What is your view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on matters that involve diplomatic interactions.

REPORTER: Although the recommendation on this occasion was to postpone a decision on inscription and seek dialogue among concerned parties, it cannot be ruled out that the documents might be inscribed in the future if they are submitted once again. Can I ask how the Government will respond to this issue going forward, including with regard to the issue of contributions to UNESCO?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in this case a decision was made that is consistent with the principle of dialogue, the  original intent of UNESCO. It was of the utmost significance that the Executive Board of UNESCO unanimously adopted a resolution that calls on all persons concerned to respect these principles and to avoid further political tensions. I believe that UNESCO will continue its activities based on this direction set out in the adopted resolution.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the suspicions surrounding the Trump administration’s interactions with Russia. Two former aides to the Trump campaign team have been indicted. This is the first case of indictment over these series of suspicions. There is also a possibility that there will be major developments in the investigation into suspicions of interactions with Russia. Can I ask for a comment from the Government about this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The matter you refer to is one that concerns domestic affairs and the judicial process of another country, and therefore, the Government would like to refrain from making comments.

REPORTER: The indictment against these former aides could be a major blow to the Trump administration. What is your view of the impact it may have on the Trump administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Both persons in question resigned their positions some time ago. The Government would like to refrain from commenting on this matter.

REPORTER: President Trump is scheduled to make his first visit to Japan next week, amid the recent uncertainty facing his administration. What impact do you think this will have on Japan-U.S. relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think there will be any impact.

REPORTER: In relation to UNESCO’s MoW Programme, a decision was made to inscribe documents on Chosen Tsushinshi , or missions to and from Japan in the Edo Period, and the Three Cherished Stelae of Ancient Kozuke  in Gunma Prefecture. Can I ask for a comment on this outcome?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding the Three Cherished Stelae of Ancient Kozuke, these stelae are of global importance in that they include information about ancient family and social systems that demonstrate the status of cultural acceptance in East Asia at the time. The records of the Chosen Tsushinshi are invaluable in that they symbolize the history of friendship an exchange between Japan and Korea. In that sense the Government is delighted that the decision has been made to inscribe these documents, and would like to welcome the decision and congratulate everyone involved in the inscription process.

REPORTER: There have been a great many press stories recently in the United States about major film producers in Hollywood and journalists being accused of sexual abuse or harassment. These stories have sparked similar movements in other countries, such as in France, where people in 15 cities have engaged in demonstrations and the “#MeToo” campaign, where women are reporting their own experiences of sexual harassment in succession. In Japan, Diet member Mr. Masayuki Aoyama of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was suspended from the party yesterday on suspicion of sexual harassment. Last week, many press outlets have also reported the case of a female journalist, who claims that she was subjected to sexual abuse from a former television reporter, and is calling for a change in social awareness and the system to be reformed. I believe that it is also currently the case in Japanese society that people who are in positions to make personnel decisions are using their power to directly or indirectly engage in sexual or power harassment of their junior staff or people who are seeking employment. What is the Government’s view of this issue and could you tell us if you have any policies in place?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While the Government would like to refrain from making a comment on this matter, I would like to state that such behavior cannot be condoned under any circumstances whatsoever.


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