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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, February 9, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: I would like to ask about the situation in Syria. Certain news outlets are reporting that Japan intends to downsize its embassy presence in Syria. Please comment on the authenticity of these reports and the current status of considerations.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The United States Embassy in Syria closed due to security concerns and other European and Gulf nations are calling back their ambassadors to hold discussions. Meanwhile, we are currently considering a response for the Japanese Embassy while paying attention to the security situation in the Syrian capital of Damascus, including reducing the number of embassy staff. The decision to reduce the number of staff has yet to be made, but we are making considerations in that direction.


REPORTER: Changing the subject to Iran, tensions are mounting in the Straits of Hormuz. In one of our newspaper's interviews, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command commented that he would like Japan to consider dispatching the Self-Defense Forces. What are the Government's thoughts about this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware of the Commander's comments in the news. Japan shares the serious concerns of Iran's nuclear problem with the international community. Based on an approach of dialogue and pressure, Japan has utilized channels of communications that we have developed in the past to engage Iran in various ways. At the same time, we implemented further sanctions on Iran in December of last year. The basic stance of the Government of Japan on Iran is based on efforts for a peaceful and diplomatic solution, and we will continue cooperating with other countries in working towards a solution while comprehensively calculating the impacts on the crude oil market, Japanese economy, and so forth.


REPORTER: I would like to confirm one thing with regard to Syria. If you have any knowledge, would you kindly share the current status such as a system for protecting Japanese nationals in Syria?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Concerning diplomatic missions, first, some countries are having their ambassadors temporarily return home for meetings. Only Qatar has closed its embassy due to security reasons, but of course Japan will continue to keep in mind and pay thorough attention to the protection of its citizens that reside in Syria.



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