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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, March 1, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have one item to report concerning the inauguration of the Global Communications Liaison Meeting on International Public Relations. Today, from 5:00pm the first Liaison Meeting on Global Communications is scheduled to be held, chaired by Minister for National Policy Furukawa and Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba. The inauguration of this body comes as a result of the reorganization of the Liaison Meeting of the Japanese Government and Related Organizations on Countermeasures Against International Reputational Damages and on Rebuilding of Japan Brand, which was established in July last year. Its purpose is to engage afresh in measures to overcome international reputational damages, seeking to further develop and strengthen the Japan brand overseas and promote Japan's many strengths and attractions, as well as Japanese values. It is also expected to engage in work to build an effective information provision structure, with the Government making concerted efforts through close cooperation between the Cabinet Secretariat and all other relevant ministries, agencies, and organizations, in partnership with the private sector. For further details please direct your questions to the Office of Global Communications of the Prime Minister's Office.


REPORTER: Last night both the United States and North Korea announced that they had reached an agreement following consultations, under which North Korea agreed to implement a moratorium on  uranium enrichment activities in return for food aid from the United States. Could you give us the reaction of the Japanese Government to this agreement and what impact you think it will have on the future of the Six-Party Talks and bilateral relations between Japan and North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has already given a press conference on this matter. For my part, I believe that this agreement between the United States and North Korea is an important step toward the resolution of various issues of concerns regarding North Korea. In particular, the pledge made by North Korea to take measures towards the implementation of the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks of 2005, in which North Korea pledged to take verifiable denuclearization measures, including the abandoning of nuclear weapons, the halting of operations at the Yongbyon nuclear facility and allowing the return of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, as well as the pledge to halt nuclear weapons tests and long-range missile launches, represent very significant outcomes. That such an agreement was reached is a result of the tenacious efforts made by the United States and North Korea in negotiations. With regard to the Six-Party Talks, it is to be hoped that North Korea will continue to respond to dialogue and that the consultations to be conducted for the actual implementation of the agreement would progress smoothly. In addition, it has been the position of the Government of Japan that concrete actions taken by North Korea toward denuclearization and its other commitments should pave the way for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks and other dialogues between North Korea and the countries concerned. The Government of Japan will continue to address this issue in close coordination with the United States, the Republic of Korea, and other countries concerned.

REPORTER: On a related note, there are concerns that for Japan this agreement may result in the abduction issue being left behind. What are your thoughts on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have heard that the representative of the United States discussed the abduction issue in the recent consultations with North Korea. However, as there was no progress achieved, it is Japan's stance to continue to press North Korea to resolve the abduction issue at the very least and it is inconceivable that it will be left behind.

REPORTER: It is now just over two months since the start of the new regime in North Korea. Does the Japanese Government consider that the new regime may be more open and flexible to negotiations with the outside world?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware that the agreement reached between the United States and North Korea on this occasion is a basic agreement that has come about as a result of consultations between the two countries that have been ongoing since approximately November last year. Therefore, I do not know whether the changes in the ruling structure of North Korea can be said to have had an impact on consultations. My understanding is that it is a basic agreement made on the basis of consultations that had previously been underway.


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