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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, April 4, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • Avian influenza in China

I have one item to report, concerning avian influenza in China. According to an announcement made by the Chinese government with regard to avian influenza that has been confirmed in humans, to date a total of nine persons in China have been confirmed to have been infected, of whom three have died. At the current point person-to-person infection has not been confirmed. Given this situation, I have instructed the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare to make a full and thorough response, including the collection of detailed information and efforts to provide information to the public. Moving forward, the relevant ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will share information and make concerted efforts to respond to this matter.


  • Recent movements by North Korea
  • The ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Japan's restoration of sovereignty and return into the international community
  • The Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit
  • Avian influenza in China
  • 100 days since the inauguration of the current administration
  • Okinawa related issues

REPORTER: There are reports that North Korea has transferred missiles to the east coast of the country, with some speculating that this is an indication of an impending missile launch. What is the Government's understanding about these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There are press reports about such actions being taken by North Korea. However, these kinds of actions have happened on a number of previous occasions. North Korea is currently engaged in repeated daily words and actions of a provocative nature and the Government finds these to be extremely regrettable. The stance of the Government is to not allow North Korea's actions affect our judgment. Rather we will call strongly on North Korea to refrain from provocative words and actions, and engage in close cooperation with countries concerned, as stipulated in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. We are therefore continuing to call on North Korea to refrain from provocative actions, in order to make them understand that such actions are of no benefit.

REPORTER: Are we to understand, therefore, that the Government is not aware at the current time about any preparations being made for a missile launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this is a matter that relates to intelligence, I will refrain from making any specific comment. Reports such as the ones you mention are appearing on a daily basis. Given the current situation, the Government is calling on North Korea to refrain from provocative acts and is also making efforts to acquire intelligence, under the leadership of the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management. In this way we have a structure in place to respond to any situation.


REPORTER: There is analysis to suggest that North Korea has begun construction work at its nuclear facility, leading some to suggest that the mechanism designed to suppress nuclear development by North Korea is no longer functioning. What calls will the Government be making on North Korea from now, together with the international community?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is already working closely with the countries concerned to call on North Korea to comply with the decisions of the Six-Party Talks and the UNSC resolutions.

REPORTER: Yesterday you visited Okinawa, where there were harsh opinions voiced about the plans for the ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Japan's restoration of sovereignty and return into the international community, which is scheduled for April 28. Does the Government have any intention of revising the plans for the ceremony?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There are no such plans. What I felt on my visit to Okinawa yesterday was that a large part of the opposition to the ceremony was if it was to be positioned as some form of celebration. As I have stated previously, this ceremony will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the entry into force of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which marked the full restoration of Japan's sovereignty and the beginning of our actions as a member of the international community as a sovereign state. However, at the same time, we must bear in mind that Okinawa, Amami and Ogasawara were placed outside the national administration of Japan at that time and the people of Okinawa were obliged to endure a troubled road full of hardships. The Government seeks understanding from the people that this will be a commemorative ceremony, and one that places the facts squarely before the people of Japan, while also setting out open and future-oriented actions for the nation, including Okinawa.


REPORTER: I believe that the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit is expected to take place at the end of May, but according to some press reports, China is requesting that the summit be postponed, due to the issue of the Senkaku Islands. What are the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: According to precedent, the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit is arranged each year by the host country. At the current point the schedule for this year's summit has not been decided, but as the host country is the Republic of Korea this year, I believe that arrangements will continue to be made under the leadership of the ROK government.

REPORTER: Has there been any communication from the Chinese government requesting that the summit be postponed?


REPORTER: With regard to avian influenza in China, which you mentioned in your opening statement, is there a possibility that the Government will consider travel restrictions to China in response to the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are not considering any such measures. However, as person-to-person infection has not been confirmed we will continue to make every effort to collect information. A structure led by the Crisis Management Office is already in place and according to reports we have received at the current time, person-to-person infection has not been confirmed.

REPORTER: The Golden Week holiday period will begin at the end of the month and given that there have already been reports of the spread of a new strain of influenza, what actions will the Government ask the public to take?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that keeping up to date with the latest information is the most important thing at this stage. I believe we should not treat the problem as a bigger issue than it really is. We would first like to make thorough efforts to ensure that we share all information among MHLW, the Cabinet Secretariat, MOFA and other relevant ministries and agencies, which I communicated earlier to the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. (Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga is handed a note) The three ministries and secretariat and the Government will ensure that information is shared and will work together to address this issue. Naturally, we would like to ensure that everyone traveling to China is aware of the situation.

REPORTER: Today marks the 100th day since the inauguration of the current administration. Could you share your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The past 100 days have seemed both short and long at the same time. Notably, there was the unanticipated event of the act of terrorism in Algeria. The Government has come up against one issue after another, but in the midst of this, the basic policies of the Abe administration have always been the revitalization of the Japanese economy, reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and thorough crisis management, on which the Prime Minister has instructed all ministers to work. As the Government, we will always strive to work in accordance to the basic policies. In addition to our basic policies, we will also remain as accountable as possible to the public. By accountability I'm referring to transparency, but this is not just about opening Government offices to the public, but is also about disclosing to the public our way of thinking on various issues and ensuring all ministers work with greater transparency and accountability. This is my perception of how I have worked over the last 100 days. As a result, I believe that the public has shown support for this attitude but I also believe that there are certain public expectations. Therefore I realize that I must make every effort to meet those expectations.

REPORTER: Speaking of meeting public expectation, I believe that when you visited Okinawa yesterday, the locals strongly demanded a reduction in the burden placed on the prefecture in relation to the military bases. Am I right to understand that we are now entering the final stages of the development of plans to return the facilities south of Kadena?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that the emotions of Okinawan residents are running high as the plans to relocate the Futenma Air Station have shown very little progress since they were announced in 1996. Okinawa houses 74 percent of the U.S. military bases located in Japan and in this context, during the Hashimoto administration a number of measures to reduce this burden were suggested, including the relocation of 9,000 marines to Guam. Today, as you know, we are negotiating the return of land south of Kadena and we are currently close to reaching an arrangement. We are working tirelessly to find an arrangement that will satisfy Okinawan residents and we are quite close to doing so.

REPORTER: Coming back to the Government's first 100 days in office, after 100 days, how do you think the relationship between Government politicians and the public sector is functioning?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Personally, before I assumed my current role of Chief Cabinet Secretary, I held other posts including Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications. I believe that each minister is to lead the way and work toward a specific direction together with the public sector, which I believe is the right way of going about things in a parliamentary cabinet system, or in this Government. I believe that by doing this the policies of the Prime Minister are being advanced. Take for instance the revitalization of the economy, or the monetary policies. I believe that it is essential that the public sector and politicians in the Government work together with a mutual sense of trust if we are to produce results one by one as we work toward those goals, and I believe that this has started to prove effective.


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