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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 4, 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 wooden boat that is thought to have come from North Korea and was found off the coast of Matsumae Town in Hokkaido. Household electrical appliances have disappeared from a building on an uninhabited island that the boat is believed to have stopped at. Could you tell us the facts as the Government is aware of them, and whether this is considered to be a case of theft?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the vessel in question, the crew have stated that they left North Korea for the purpose of fishing and were washed ashore when their vessel broke down. It has been confirmed that part of the rudder of the vessel is broken. With regard to the matter you mentioned in your question, I have received a report that the police and the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) are currently working together to interview the crew and are also engaged in the necessary investigations to confirm the situation on Matsumae-kojima island. As the facts are still being investigated I would like to refrain from commenting based on conjecture at this point in time.

REPORTER: I understand that you do not wish to make any comment based on conjecture. However, if this is a case of theft, will the crew be charged and then deported? Could you tell us about how the Government will respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the ministries and agencies concerned are currently working to confirm the facts and the Government will respond appropriately, based on the findings of the investigation and in accordance with relevant laws.

REPORTER: I have a question about U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) joint military exercises. The largest ever exercises between the United States and the ROK started today. North Korea is strongly opposed to these exercises. What is the Government’s analysis of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, according to an announcement made by Pacific Air Forces of the United States, the Government understands that the air forces of the United States and the ROK are planning to implement a regularly scheduled flying exercise for four days from December 4 that is designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces and increase the combat effectiveness of both nations. The Government considers that strong deterrence capability through the Japan-U.S. alliance and the U.S.-ROK alliance is necessary to ensure the defense of Japan as well as the peace and security of the region. It is from this perspective that the Government supports the advancement of U.S.-ROK cooperation as it contributes to the peace and stability of the region. Meanwhile, the Government is also aware that North Korea has denounced the exercises as a grave military provocation. In view of this situation, including during the duration of the exercises, the Government will continue to engage in surveillance and monitoring activities and collect information with a sense of urgency, taking all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: Given that North Korea launched a ballistic missile only last week, does the Government consider that conducting military exercises so soon after the launch will further heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, given that North Korea has denounced the exercises as a grave military provocation, we will respond thoroughly in order to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: I have a question related to North Korea. The eight men who were held by Akita Prefectural Police after their wooden boat washed ashore on the coast of Yurihonjo City in Akita Prefecture were transferred to the Immigration Bureau in Nagasaki Prefecture on December 2. Are we to understand that the series of investigations conducted by the authorities concerned, including interviews of the crew, have now been concluded?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to this matter you raised, the eight people who were initially held by the police have been handed over to the Ministry of Justice as persons who landed due to distress. I have received a report that upon receiving the persons in question, the Ministry of Justice provided them with landing permission as persons in distress, pursuant to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, and worked with relevant authorities to transfer them to Omura Immigration Center on December 2. From the perspective of protecting the safety and privacy of the persons involved, I would like to refrain from commenting about how the Government will respond going forward.

REPORTER: Is it known now whether the eight people are of North Korean nationality?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is also something that I would like to refrain from commenting on at this moment in time from the perspective of protecting their safety and privacy.

REPORTER: There are press reports that suggest the Government has formulated a guideline on economic cooperation by the private sector relating to the “One Belt, One Road” initiative proposed by China. Could you tell us if this is true and if so enlighten us as to the contents of the guideline?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is the case that the Government has always engaged in close communication with Japanese companies and business organizations on Japan-China cooperation in economic areas and business cooperation among private sector companies. I would like to refrain, however, from going into specific details.

REPORTER: I have a question about local allocation tax. Some press reports are suggesting that the Government is considering controls on the allotment of local allocation tax because of the increasing trend in the balance of funds accumulated by local governments. Could you tell us the current situation and the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, various discussions are taking place on local allocation tax in the FY2018 budget, and careful consideration is being given to future tax revenue trends and the financial status of local governments, with a view to formulating local finance measures by the end of the year. The Government will continue to thoroughly coordinate such discussions and the formulation of measures.

REPORTER: Ms. Seiko Noda, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, stated yesterday that reducing the allotment of local allocation taxes because funds have accumulated is not a correct policy direction as these funds are necessary for ensuring the safety and security of local residents, including for disaster risk reduction and response measures. As someone who has previously served as Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, what is your view of such arguments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, it is the time of the year when various opinions are expressed most vocally based on tax revenue trends and the financial status of local governments, with a view to formulating local finance measures by the end of the year. In the process of following discussions on this issue for some length of time, the Government will move forward decisively to formulate local finance measures by the end of the year.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of North Korea. It is being reported that the United States has analyzed that the warhead section of the ballistic missile that was launched last week may have disintegrated on reentry. What is the status of the Government’s analysis on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the reports you mentioned. I am also aware that North Korea has announced that it has once again verified the reliability of the nose of the missile in a reentry. However, further and careful analyses will be necessary in order to determine whether North Korea actually verified the success of its reentry technologies by last week’s launch.

REPORTER: Some analysis suggests there are signs that North Korea is preparing for the launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). What is the Government’s view about the likelihood of another provocative action by North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I always say, the Government is constantly engaged in the collection and analyses of information about military actions in North Korea with great concern. I would like to refrain from commenting on specific details.

(Abridged)
 

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