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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga



  • Japan-China relations (the beaming of a radar by a Chinese naval vessel)
  • Exchange market situations and economic policies
  • Okinawa related issues
  • Personnel matters at the Bank of Japan
  • Security measures against cyber-attacks targeting government entities

REPORTER: With regard to the beaming of a radar by a Chinese naval vessel, can I ask about the Government's reaction to this incident and whether any explanation has been received from the Chinese government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government finds this incident to be extremely regrettable, given that it constituted an extremely dangerous act. Following this incident we swiftly lodged a protest with the Chinese government via diplomatic channels, expressing Japan's strong regret and urging that the utmost efforts be made to prevent a recurrence. Given the fact that the governments of Japan and China are currently seeking ways to engage in dialogue it is extremely regrettable that China has conducted this unilateral and provocative act. The Government intends to call strongly on China to return to the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests  between our two countries and make every effort to exercise self-restraint, thus ensuring that there is no recurrence of such an act and that the situation does not escalate needlessly.

REPORTER: On a related note, with regard to the response of the Government, while on the one hand statements are being made that the incident was extremely regrettable, on the other hand the protest was actually made at the division director level. Why was this the case? Also, on the day that the protest was made concerning the radar incident, the same morning the Chinese Ambassador had been summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in protest at the incursion of Chinese vessels for 14 hours in Japan's territorial waters, with the protest being lodged by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki. Does this mean that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only knew about the radar incident after this protest (to the Chinese Ambassador concerning the 14-hour incursion) had been made?


REPORTER: I am wondering, if the Prime Minister's Office is controlling and coordinating communication about these incidents in a cross-governmental manner and receiving information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense, why it was not the case that a proper protest was not lodged with the Chinese Ambassador, combining both the vessel incursion and the radar beaming incidents in one protest?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In terms of the sequence of events, it was the case that a Chinese vessel incurred on Japan's territorial waters. In response to this incident the Chinese Ambassador was summoned and a strong protest was lodged. It was after this protest had been made that the incident concerning the radar emerged. I believe that the Prime Minister's Office received the information around 3:00 to 4:00pm. I would like you to understand therefore that this was the reason why the decision was made to lodge the protest concerning the incursion by the Chinese vessel.

REPORTER: Does that imply that there has been a lack of communication between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is not the case. The radar beaming incident actually occurred on January 30, but it took time to confirm whether it was the Chinese vessel that had actually been responsible for this radar incident. Unless the facts of any incident are confirmed in advance it is not possible to lodge a protest. Therefore, after due investigation it was determined that the radar had been beamed by a Chinese vessel. Once this information reached the Prime Minister's Office in the late afternoon it was decided to lodge a protest immediately and that is why the protest was made at the level that you mentioned.

REPORTER: I have another question concerning the timing when the Prime Minister's Office became aware of the information. In this morning's press conference by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato, an explanation was provided that at the time of the personal message being conveyed to China by New Komeito Chief Representative Yamaguchi, Prime Minister Abe had already received a report about the incident. If that is the case, given your explanation that the Prime Minister's Office received notification about the incident yesterday, is it the case that the Prime Minister knew beforehand? The incidents of radar beaming occurred on January 19 and January 30, each one involving a different target, a ship and helicopter respectively, so when did the Prime Minister know about each of these incidents?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It was on the evening of January 19 that the Prime Minister received a report about a suspicious action. However, as a result of careful investigation and analysis of the details it proved not to be possible to arrive at a conclusion about the incident that occurred on January 19. With regard to the incident that took place on January 30, the results of analysis were communicated to the Prime Minister's Office at around 4:00pm yesterday, which is when the details of the incident were clarified.

REPORTER: So is it the case that the with regard to the incident on January 19, the Ministry of Defense provided an explanation to the Prime Minister's Office that it was not conclusively known whether the cause of the incident had been China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, that it is the case. There was a report provided to the effect that a suspicious incident had occurred but the details were not yet clear. Then, on January 21, a report was received in which it was stated that the results of analysis had proved inconclusive.

REPORTER: So are we to understand that the Prime Minister also received an explanation on January 30?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, that was not the case. I believe it was due to the fact that detailed analysis took time and therefore a report was not provided. I was with the Prime Minister at the time.

REPORTER: So the Prime Minister received a report about the January 30 incident yesterday?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, that is the case.

REPORTER: Almost half a month has passed since the first occurrence of this type of incident and the announcement being made. In that time has the Prime Minister given any instructions to the Prime Minister's Office or the Ministry of Defense or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, it has been the case that since yesterday, February 5, the Government has made been thorough in its efforts to lodge a protest about this incident and call on China to ensure that there is no further escalation. In addition, Japan will further step up its monitoring and surveillance of the territories of the Senkaku Islands.

REPORTER: Did the Prime Minister issue any kind of instructions at the point when he became aware of the situation, regardless of when that might have been?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, from what I hear the Prime Minister told the Ministry of Defense to publicize the facts of the incident.

REPORTER: And to engage in thorough analysis?


REPORTER: With regard to movements on the Chinese side, how does the Government view the administration of President Xi Jinping and the relationship between the government and military of China? Does the Government believe that the Chinese government has a firm grip over military control?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is continuing to monitor and survey developments on the Chinese side. However, I do not believe it would be appropriate for me to speak on behalf of the Government and make any prejudgments.

REPORTER: How does the Government view the recent incident? Is it considered to be a spontaneous and random incident, or a result of the ongoing interaction between Japan and China concerning the Senkaku Islands, or something altogether different?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have said on frequent occasions, it is extremely regrettable that Chinese government vessels have repeatedly entered Japan's territorial waters in this manner and the Government has continued to express sentiments of strong regret to the Chinese government, calling for restraint and responsible actions. Furthermore, this recent radar beaming incident was a dangerous act that could have caused a contingency situation. Accordingly, the Government has conveyed its extreme regret to the Chinese side, urging strongly that measures be taken to prevent a recurrence. At the same time, the Government believes that it will be necessary to engage in careful analysis of the background and intention of these actions by China. However, as this is a real and pressing issue, I believe that the role of the Government is to make every effort to continue monitoring and surveillance measures, with the cooperation of the relevant ministries and agencies, focused on activities by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG).

REPORTER: According to some press reports, prior to the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands in September last year there had already been incidents in which Chinese vessels had beamed radar at Japanese vessels. What are the facts behind these press reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of any such incidents.

REPORTER: On this occasion, particularly the radar beaming incident of January 30, the Government was quick to announce the incident once it had been confirmed. Was the purpose of announcing the incident to highlight the situation to the international community?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The purpose of releasing the information concerning the incident was based on the basic stance of the Abe Administration to disclose as much information as possible to the people of Japan. Given that this was an incident that had been confirmed to have taken place, the Government sought to explain it immediately to the people. I think it is only natural that there should be various reactions from the international community and therefore it is also a fact that it is important for the Government to express clearly Japan's stance.

REPORTER: With regard to Japan's relations with its ally the United States concerning this matter, as the situation continues to develop, how does the Government intend to cooperate with the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and the United States share close cooperative ties already and given this fact I do not believe the present situation will change the current relationship to any great extent.


REPORTER: The share index has recently recovered to its highest value in four years and four months, and the yen has also depreciated to the 94 yen to the dollar level for the first time in two years and nine months. I believe that this is due to the current tensions between Japan and China and also to expectations about the effect of "Abenomics." What is your reaction to these monetary and financial indicators reaching such levels?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have said previously, I believe that it is preferable for share prices to be higher rather than lower. Also, with regard to the yen exchange rate, for some time the yen had been at an excessively high level and is now heading in a direction that the Abe Administration had intended, which has also been reflected in the share price index. The Government will continue to steadily implement the "three prongs" of bold monetary policy, flexible fiscal policy, and a growth strategy that encourages private sector investment, while at the same time ensuring the passage of the supplementary budget for fiscal 2012 and the fiscal 2013 budget as soon as possible and in a seamless manner. These efforts will, we believe, lead to economic revival and we are making every endeavor in that regard.

REPORTER: The depreciation of the yen has also had the effect of pushing up the price of kerosene, which now stands a four year and four month high. It is anticipated that the weakening yen will have an impact on energy-related imports. What measures does the Government intend to implement to counteract the energy-related implications of a weaker yen and what do you consider to be the permissible level for yen depreciation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I will refrain from commenting from my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary about what is a good or bad exchange rate. It is certainly the case that yen depreciation will have an impact on some industries and if there are rapid and drastic changes in the situation then I believe it will be necessary to devise response measures. However, at the current time the Government is still continuing to monitor the fluctuations in the exchange rate.

REPORTER: On a different subject, you have recently met with the three Cabinet ministers involved in Okinawan affairs. What did you discuss in your meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister has recently made his first visit to Okinawa, and was accompanied by Minister Yamamoto on that occasion. Minister Yamamoto shared with the rest of us in the meeting the details of the visit and the meeting that was held with Governor Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture.

REPORTER: In the meeting today did you exchange opinions concerning the timing of the application to engage in landfill construction at Henoko?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Minister Yamamoto informed us that in the meeting between Governor Nakaima and the Prime Minister, no mention was made of this topic.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning personnel matters at the Bank of Japan (BOJ) that require the approval of both houses of the Diet. Current Governor Shirakawa has expressed his intention to resign just ahead of the expiry of his term of office. What is the Government's reaction to this announcement and are we to understand that the Government will be submitting the names of candidates for governor and deputy governors to the Diet as one package?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the resignation of Governor Shirakawa, it was always the case previously that the personnel decisions regarding the governor and deputy governors of the BOJ were conducted as one package. However, at the time of the previous selection and approval of the BOJ governor, the approval of the Diet was delayed, leading to the current disjoint in timing of the terms of office of the governor and deputy governors. I believe that Governor Shirakawa's decision to resign shortly before the expiry of his term of offices stems from a desire to see the personnel approval process restored to a normal track. With regard to the BOJ personnel decisions that require the approval of the Diet, while other personnel decisions are also important, the BOJ personnel decisions are of the utmost importance and therefore great care and attention will be paid to the timing of the submission to the Diet for approval.

REPORTER: You noted that in your exchange of opinions with Cabinet ministers responsible for Okinawan affairs, Minister Yamamoto had reported that in the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Governor of Okinawa no reference had been made to the application for landfill construction at Henoko. Did you engage in an exchange of opinions with the ministers about what will need to be done towards the application being submitted, or when the application will actually be submitted?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We exchanged information and noted the importance of building relations of trust with Okinawa. The visit to the prefecture by the Prime Minister has been the first step in this endeavor and I imagine that from these efforts to build trust a discussion on the landfill application will be forthcoming.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning cyber-attacks. Following on from the attack on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also subject to a cyber-attack. Given the risk of sensitive information being lost through such attacks, does the Government consider it necessary to strengthen protective measures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There have been press reports about such attacks at various ministries and agencies. From the perspective of national security and crisis management these sorts of attacks are totally unacceptable. Given the recent incidents, from my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary I have issued instructions to all ministries and agencies to ensure that security measures are enhanced and strengthened to respond to such situations.

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