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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 27, 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 have a question about the Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) Trilateral Summit Meeting. According to some press reports China has indicated that it would be difficult to hold the summit prior to the National People’s Congress scheduled for March. Could you tell us the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the chair of the next trilateral summit, Japan is coordinating with China and the ROK with a view to holding the summit at an early juncture. At this point, no decision has been made with regard to the specific date and other details.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In some press interviews you recently gave, you stated that the target is to hold the summit before the spring. What are the facts related to this statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I originally thought that spring next year could be one goal for holding the summit. In any event, Japan is engaged in coordination efforts with a view to holding the summit at an early juncture. As yet no decision has been made with regard to a specific date and other details. I made my comments on that basis.

REPORTER: I have a question about the captain and two other crew members of a wooden vessel from North Korea who were arrested. The three people have been arrested on suspicion of having stolen a generator from an uninhabited island in Matsumae Town in Hokkaido and the prosecutor has decided to charge the captain with theft. Could you comment on any future responses related to this incident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as this case is still under investigation I would like to refrain from making any comment. I believe that the police and the prosecutor’s office will make an appropriate response based on the outcomes of their investigations and in accordance with the relevant laws and the evidence.

REPORTER: Can I ask for confirmation that the Government considers the three people who have been arrested to be fishermen rather than spies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the case is still under investigation I would like to refrain from stating anything other than that an appropriate response will be made based on relevant laws and evidence.

REPORTER: In December last year, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution that calls for the immediate cessation of settlement activities by Israel. At that time the United States, then under the Obama administration, abstained from the vote and Japan voted in favor of the resolution. Could you tell us if, at that time, Japan was contacted by the office of then-President Elect Trump to oppose the resolution or call for a delay in its adoption?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the UNSC resolution adopted in December last year, as you have noted, Japan voted in favor of the resolution. At the time the U.S. President was President Obama. No contact was received from then-President Elect Trump prior to his inauguration.

REPORTER: So there were no such contact?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: None whatsoever.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. Foreign Minister Kono is currently visiting the Middle East and it has been  reported by local media that he has proposed a meeting in Japan among Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. leaders. Could you tell us what facts the Government is aware of in relation to these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, there is no plan for a meeting such as that which is being reported by the press. The Government of Japan has consistently worked to build trust between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, which is vital for the realization of Peace in the Middle East. We will continue to make thorough efforts to that end.

REPORTER: So there is no truth to the reports that Foreign Minister Kono has proposed such a meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am unaware of any such proposal.

REPORTER: I have a question about the review of the Japan-ROK agreement regarding the comfort women. The ROK side is due to announce the results of the review today and there are concerns that the future response of the Government of the ROK could have an adverse impact on Japan-ROK relations. Given the heightened tensions over North Korea, could you tell us how the Government of Japan intends to approach the ROK with regard to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as the report you mentioned has yet to be released I would like to refrain from making any comment on behalf of the Government. In any event, in the agreement that was concluded at the end of 2015, both countries confirmed that the issue is finally and irreversibly resolved, and the agreement has been highly appreciated by the international community. It is therefore of the utmost importance to ensure its steady implementation. In the Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting held on December 19, Foreign Minister Kono pressed for this position, and the Government will continue to use all available opportunities to call strongly on the ROK to steadily implement the agreement.

REPORTER: The Government of the ROK has asked about  Prime Minister Abe’s attendance at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, could the outcomes of the review have an impact on the Prime Minister’s attendance at the Games?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: When Foreign Minister Kang of the ROK paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Abe, she extended an invitation to visit the ROK at the time of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Prime Minister Abe responded that he would consider visiting while taking into account the Diet schedule and other circumstances.

REPORTER: I believe that considerations are already underway as to whether the Prime Minister will attend the PyeongChang Games, so when will a final decision be made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No specific schedule has been announced. I just mentioned that the Prime Minister will make a decision taking into account the Diet schedule and other issues. 

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Returning to the comfort women issue, although the ROK has not yet announced the results of the review, has the Government received any advance  notice from the Government of the ROK about the contents of the report?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not received any such communication.
 

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