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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The demise of President Chavez of Venezuela
  • The issues of North Korea
  • The TPP
  • Japan-ROK relations
  • The treatment of the Taiwan representative at the ceremony to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

REPORTER: This morning at around 6:00am Japan time President Chavez of Venezuela passed away. President Chavez was someone who was known for his anti-U.S. statements, but what impact do you think his passing will have on Japan-Venezuela relations?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I have heard that Vice President Maduro of Venezuela has announced that President Chavez passed away in the capital city of Caracas at 4:25pm, March 5, Venezuela time, which was 5:55pm Japan time. During his tenure, President Chavez visited Japan on two occasions and Japan will continue to make efforts to maintain the friendly and cooperative relations we have with Venezuela.

REPORTER: With regard to North Korea, it is anticipated that a resolution will be adopted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) by the end of the week that includes compulsory inspections of all cargo vessels. I have two questions, firstly, how does Japan evaluate the draft resolution, and secondly, based on the expected resolution, what specific response does Japan intend to make?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I am aware that at the current point consultations in the UNSC are in their final phase, based on the draft resolution. With regard to the specific anticipated content of the draft resolution that you mentioned, as consultations are still ongoing and we have relations of trust to consider with the countries concerned, I would like to refrain from making any further comment. However, what I would say is that Japan seeks to continue to cooperate closely with the countries concerned, including the United States, Republic of Korea (ROK), China and Russia to ensure that the UNSC adopts a resolution in the near term that is effective in terms of its content, including further strengthening of sanctions. Naturally, once a draft resolution is issued, Japan will respond in accordance with the content of the resolution.

REPORTER: Also on the topic of North Korea, a spokesperson for the Korean People's Army has announced that the armistice agreement concluded at the end of the Korean War will be declared invalid. What is the reaction of the Government to this announcement?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I am well aware that on March 5, a statement was made to the effect that the Korean Armistice Agreement would be invalidated. The Government takes a great interest in developments in North Korea and is engaged in continuous activities to collect and analyze information. However, I would like to refrain from commenting about individual comments or statements. Whatever the case, this is a matter that could have a significant impact on the peace and security of Japan, and from that perspective the Government will continue to seek to monitor the situation carefully.

REPORTER: With regard to an announcement concerning Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations, there are reports that suggest this will take place next week. What is the current status?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: In the recent Japan-U.S. summit meeting it was confirmed that bilateral consultations on this matter would continue, and the current status is that based on what was agreed at the summit meeting consultations are ongoing.

REPORTER: Is there any indication of when an announcement on participation in the negotiations will be made?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Given that consultations are ongoing and that there are domestic considerations to be included, coupled with the fact that the matter will ultimately be decided by the Prime Minister, no specific date for an announcement has yet been decided.

REPORTER: There are also press reports that suggest that it was agreed between Japan and the United States that the figures for the tariffs on automobiles will remain in place in the United States.

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: My awareness is that this and other issues are still being dealt with in consultations.


REPORTER: Yesterday in the plenary session of the Diet the Prime Minister mentioned Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) telephone talks between the two leaders. Are these talks scheduled to take place today?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The Japan-ROK telephone talks with the president of the ROK are scheduled to take place this evening.

REPORTER: With regard to the ceremony organized by the Government to commemorate the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, at last year's ceremony the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was critical of the fact that the representative of Taiwan was not provided with the opportunity to lay a floral tribute. What will be the response to Taiwan in this year's ceremony?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The treatment of the representative of Taiwan at last year's Ceremony to Commemorate the First Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake was an issue that was raised in the Diet, and then-Prime Minister Noda offered his sincere apologies for the treatment at the time. The ceremony is held purely for the purpose of bringing the nation together to commemorate the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake and to express appreciation for the support received from overseas, including from Taiwan. If the people of Taiwan were in any way offended by the treatment at last year's ceremony, this was by no means the intention of the Government. At this year's ceremony we would like to invite representatives of Taiwan to make a floral tribute and seating will be provided where all overseas representatives are assigned to seat.

REPORTER: Returning to the Japan-ROK telephone talks, what will be the topics for discussion?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I believe that the content of the talks will be announced once they have been concluded. As I have already mentioned, the talks are scheduled for this evening and specific items for discussion have yet to be confirmed.

REPORTER: Listening to the Prime Minister's responses to questions in the Diet yesterday, it would seem apparent that he will offer his congratulations to the president on her inauguration, but are we to understand that there will also be an exchange of opinions on the issue of North Korea?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I think you are right that basically the Prime Minister will offer his congratulations and also that discussion will take place on issues of common interest to Japan and the ROK. However, at this stage I would like to refrain from making any speculation about what is on the agenda for discussion.

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