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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, February 1, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Murayama Statement and a new future-oriented statement to be considered from now on
  • Takeshima Day on February 22
  • The TPP
  • The Senkaku Islands

REPORTER: In his responses to interpellation sessions at in the Diet the Prime Minister has referred to the statement made (in 1995) by former Prime Minister Murayama, stating that at an appropriate time he intends to issue a future-oriented statement that is appropriate for the 21st century. I believe you have referred to this yourself previously, but could you tell us if the Government has any specific notion at the current point about when the "appropriate time" will be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A specific time has yet to be determined, but at the appropriate time, a meeting of experts and scholars will be convened, based on whose opinions the Government seeks to issue a new and future-oriented statement.

REPORTER: What specific direction would such a "future-oriented" statement set forth?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Asian region is currently demonstrating tremendous economic growth. In that context, I believe that a statement would look to a future of co-existence and co-prosperity with Asia. The Government will seek various opinions of experts on this matter, based on current realities, and I believe that from such discussions a future-oriented statement will be forthcoming.

REPORTER: What is the Government's plan concerning the timing for seeking expert opinions? Is it likely to be at an early stage, such as this month or next month?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given the sequence of discussions, I don't think that it would be at such an early stage. As I have said before, there will be various discussions on a number of issues, including that of the right of collective self-defense, which will each be advanced steadily.

REPORTER: It is difficult to understand the relationship between current discussions and the statement issued by former Prime Minister Murayama. For example, if the current discussions do not make reference to the war, I feel they might diverge completely from former Prime Minister Murayama's statement. Are we to understand that the new statement will incorporate some kind of recognition relating to the war?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The meeting of experts on this matter has not yet been convened, but I believe that once their opinions are heard, the content of a future-oriented statement and what should be incorporated in it will become clear.

REPORTER: The statement by former Prime Minister Murayama was issued to coincide with the anniversary of the end of the war. Does the Government intend for this new statement to be compiled with a view to coinciding with the same anniversary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing whatsoever has been determined, including the matter of timing that you have just mentioned. The statement of former Prime Minister Murayama was issued on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. Former Prime Minister Koizumi also issued a statement at the time of the 60th anniversary, and therefore I believe that Prime Minister Abe is similarly seeking to issue a statement on the 70th anniversary.

REPORTER: It has been confirmed that no Cabinet members will be attending the commemoration ceremony held by Shimane Prefecture for Takeshima Day on February 22. Are there any plans to send some kind of a message?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This matter is currently still under consideration.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. Today, in his press conference following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Amari stated that if the precondition that  no exceptions are permitted concerning the abolition of tariffs was to be changed, the situation regarding the TPP would be different and that currently efforts are being made, led by yourself, to seek such a possibility. Minister Amari's statement sounded as if it is hopeful that the Government can secure special exemptions relating to the TPP. What is the Government's current intention with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There have been absolutely no changes whatsoever to the Government's response thus far. As the current administration has been in power for a little over a month, we are still in the process of gathering information concerning the negotiations that have been implemented to date. My response at the current time is the same as always, namely that the Government is following the policy clearly set forth in our election pledges and we have not deviated from that path.

REPORTER: On a related note, Vice-President Komura of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has appeared on a television program and stated that last month he met with Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell of the United States, and indicated to the U.S. side that if the hurdles for TPP entry were lowered, then Japan would join. I believe that this was a statement indicating that if the issue of the preconditions can be overcome then the Government would enter into the negotiations. These kinds of statements seem to be increasing, so what is your response to them?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The position of the Government remains unchanged. There is no change to our basic concept that while the precondition of complete tariff abolition remains in place Japan will not participate in the TPP negotiations.


REPORTER: With regard to the TPP and the statement by Minister Amari, I believe that what the minister was referring to with regard to yourself was that you are coordinating the interaction between the Government and the LDP on this issue. What is the current status of coordination concerning the matter of the TPP between yourself and the LDP?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think that there has been a fundamental misunderstanding concerning this matter. I am in a position inside Government, and therefore what I am leading efforts on is the collection of various information relating to the TPP. I am not engaging in any coordination with the party.

REPORTER: In the Japan-United States summit meeting that is scheduled to take place in February, what degree of prominence will be placed on the TPP out of all the topics to be discussed in the meeting and what will be the significance of the summit meeting itself?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think that the matter of the TPP will be accorded a great deal of emphasis. There are various matters of importance to be discussed and the TPP will be one among those.


REPORTER: With regard to the establishment of a Japanese National Security Council (NSC), it has been announced that a meeting of experts will be convened, but what is the anticipated schedule for such a meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Preparations are currently underway and the members of the meeting to consider a Japanese NSC have been largely decided. Given the difficulty in coordinating the schedules of the various members, efforts to arrange a meeting are currently ongoing.

REPORTER: On a related note, do you believe that it will be necessary to revise legislation in order to establish a Japanese NSC? If you consider that legal amendments will be required, is it possible that these could be submitted at the earliest to the current session of the Diet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As discussions have not yet even begun and we are only in the very initial stages, I believe that a concept concerning the NSC will take shape during the course of discussions.


REPORTER: Today in response to questions in the Diet the Prime Minister stated that establishing a permanent presence on the Senkaku Islands was one option available. Could you tell us what considerations the Government is giving with regard to the stationing of a permanent presence on the islands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This matter has been openly stated previously at the time of the presidential elections for the LDP, and also detailed in the J-File policy proposal and election pledges of the LDP. As I have said on frequent occasions previously, the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law, and Japan is resolutely resolved to protect our sovereign territory. The option of a permanent presence on the islands is therefore part of this context.

REPORTER: What is the specific status of considerations and what sort of future schedule is anticipated with regard to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No specific considerations are currently being made. However, as an inherent territory of Japan I believe that the option of a permanent presence is one that would be a possibility out of the various Government response options available.


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