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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, February 28, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Verification Committee on the Terrorist Incident against Japanese Nationals in Algeria
  • Press reports on a candidate for the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  • Okinawa related issues

REPORTER: After this press conference I believe that the third meeting of the Verification Committee on the Terrorist Incident against Japanese Nationals in Algeria will be held and a report will be finalized. In the process of the compilation of the report, as you have looked back on this incident, what kinds of issues have you placed emphasis on?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than placing emphasis on certain individual points, the aim of the Verification Committee has been  to identify what measures were lacking overall or what countermeasures it would have been best to implement, following examinations carried out by all ministries and agencies concerned. These findings will be compiled into a report that will be finalized today, and will then be submitted to a panel of experts who will hold a meeting to review the report tomorrow. The aim is to formulate a policy for countermeasures, hopefully before the long national holiday at the end of April and beginning of May. However, as Japanese companies are active globally and there is no telling when an incident similar to the one in Algeria may occur, based on the report that is finalized today, if there are any measures that can be implemented straight away, the Government will duly seek to  implement such measures.

REPORTER: As the process of expert consultation starts tomorrow, do you think you can adequately lead discussions concerning the issues raised by the Verification Committee based on the experience of the Algerian incident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The incident occurred relatively shortly after I became Chief Cabinet Secretary.  At the time of the incident I had a strong sense that it would have been useful to have a manual of some description for this kind of incident. Another point is that the Government offices of Japan function well in terms of organizational structure, respectively, but my role as Chief Cabinet Secretary is to bring these structures together and use them effectively. At the time of the Algerian incident I thought that the government could have worked with greater speed if such an (overall) organization had been in place.

REPORTER: When you refer to a manual, do you mean a manual for the post of Chief Cabinet Secretary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, what I meant is that if an incident such as the recent one were to occur it would be useful to have a manual that lists the things that absolutely must be done, which would enable the people involved to use the manual as a check list. That is what I meant when I referred to a manual. Although this kind of manual or check list might be different to the actual response to an incident, I would still like something similar to a manual to be created.

REPORTER: The ruling parties are currently considering amending legislation to make it possible for the Self-Defense Forces to provide land transportation. What is the likely roadmap for such considerations and what matters will be deliberated?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on the report that will be issued by the Verification Committee today and also taking into consideration the various proposals that will be set forth by the panel of experts on this matter, I hope that the Government and the ruling parties will work together to formulate a robust response.

REPORTER: When the Verification Committee was launched it was noted at the time that it could lead to amendments to the Self-Defense Forces Act. What are the Government's views with regard to the way the Self-Defense Forces Act will be handled in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The ruling parties have already initiated discussion on this topic and I imagine that the panel of experts will also have various proposals. Therefore I think an outcome will be achieved on the basis of cooperation between the Government and ruling parties, and in view of the proposals that have been tabled.


REPORTER: Do you think that the conclusions of the Verification Committee will be reflected in the discussions of the Advisory Council on the Establishment of a National Security Council (NSC)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The central focus of the proposed NSC would be security, and therefore I think that considerations regarding terrorism should also be dealt with in such a forum.

REPORTER: There are reports that Ms. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John. F Kennedy, is a strong candidate as successor to Ambassador of the United States to Japan John V. Roos. Has the Government heard anything about this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is the first time that I have heard such reports and my first reaction is one of surprise. Whosoever may be appointed to the post, the fact remains that Japan-U.S. relations are extremely important. If it were to be the case that Ms. Kennedy was appointed as ambassador I think that this is something to be welcomed as President Kennedy is a familiar figure in Japan and many Japanese people admire him. However, as I mentioned initially, the Government has not confirmed this appointment and is not aware of any such decisions.

REPORTER: Recently four speeches were delivered by the Government and in his policy speech the Prime Minister quoted a number of famous people, including Kaibara Ekken and Margaret Thatcher. What were your thoughts as you listened to the speech?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that the Prime Minister conveyed his own thoughts and words through this speech, making them clear to the people of Japan. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of drawing once more on the tremendous capacity and diligence of Japanese people to bring the country back to vitality and press forward. I also believe that his desire to address anxieties that may be held by the people of Japan and to create a Japan in which everyone can live in safety and security was put across well in his speech.


REPORTER: The Commander of United States Forces Japan held a press conference today in which he stated that exercises involving the Osprey transport aircraft are scheduled to begin on mainland Japan from next week. On his visit to Okinawa Prefecture on February 2, Prime Minister Abe stated to the governor of the prefecture that the Government would make efforts to ensure that exercises were transferred as much as possible to areas outside the prefecture. Is this part of measures to reduce the burden of bases on Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have heard that today an announcement on this subject has been made. The Government's basic stance is to ensure that the burden placed on the people of Okinawa is not excessive and we seek to make efforts to ensure that the burden can be relieved. The implementation of the exercises in Iwakuni is one such move to alleviate the burden.


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