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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, April 11, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Japan's response to the situation of North Korea
  • Japan-Taiwan fishery consultations
  • The TPP
  • The ceremony for the Sovereignty Restoration Day
  • The relocation of Futenma Air Station
  • The issue of contaminated water at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

REPORTER: I would like to once again ask if you could share new information, if any, regarding North Korea's missile launch.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Things are exactly the same as yesterday.

REPORTER: By same as yesterday, with regard to North Korea's moves, in particular, with regard to the fuel injection...

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware that there have been various moves. However, should any contingency present itself, the Government is taking all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese people.

REPORTER: There seems to be information suggesting that a missile launch pad has moved into an upright position. What is your analysis of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated a short while ago, we are aware of the various sources of information. In this context, we are taking all possible measures.

REPORTER: The Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has expressed the view that North Korea is ready to launch at any time. Does the Japanese Government also hold the same view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated a moment ago, this kind of information - information from the ROK or from the U.S. - is being shared. Therefore, we are aware of the various sources of information.

REPORTER: Today marks one year since the inauguration of First Secretary Kim Jong-Un. What is your opinion regarding the fact that North Korea has repeatedly stated and carried out provocative words and actions, beginning with these missile launches and nuclear tests?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: North Korea's repeated adoption of provocative words and actions is deeply regrettable. Without being swayed by these words and actions, Japan is working together closely with relevant countries, including the U.S. and the ROK, to take responses. Furthermore, through diplomatic channels, Japan is strongly urging North Korea that it first implement the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and United Nations Security Council resolutions, and that repeating such provocative words and actions will provide no benefit to North Korea. Also, Japan is working with relevant countries to strongly call on North Korea to refrain from such provocative actions.

REPORTER: There is information that the upright position of the missile launch pad was observed from a reconnaissance satellite. It would seem strange to place the launch pad in a visible location, and there seems to be speculation that this was an act of deception by North Korea. What do you think about this possibility?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware of the various sources of information and are carrying out analyses and taking measures accordingly.

REPORTER: In light of the increasingly tense situation in North Korea, Secretary-General Ishiba of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) expressed his view in his address yesterday that the countries Japan can provide support to under the Act on Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Perilous Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan should be expanded to other countries besides the U.S. Can you please explain whether or not the Government intends to examine this possibility?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the view expressed in yesterday's address is Secretary-General Ishiba's view. In any case, the Government stands ready to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese people against the ongoing situation.

REPORTER: You stated that you are receiving a variety of information. In this light, do you have any intention to evacuate Japanese nationals in the ROK? Also, you stated that Japan is working together with the U.S. I would like to ask whether the U.S. is making such moves.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Information is being provided as necessary to Japanese nationals residing in the ROK on the website of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, through an E-mail magazine for Japanese residents, as well as through an E-mail emergency contact network. In addition, the Japanese Embassy and the Seoul Japan Club have jointly convened meetings of the Seoul Japan Safety Measures Committee and created and distributed a manual for contingencies to Japanese residents. That is the situation. They are responding in an extremely calm manner.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding yesterday's Japan-Taiwan fishery negotiations. Some evaluate that the negotiations drove a wedge into China-Taiwan relations, while on the other hand, Governor Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture and others have expressed regret over the fact that the agreement will de facto permit Taiwanese fishing vessels to operate in Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). On what account did the Government reach this agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The zone in question in the said agreement is an area where primarily fishery operators in Okinawa Prefecture carry out fishery operations, including for tuna, skipjack tuna, Japanese jack mackerel, and mackerel. In response to the specific impacts associated with the entry into force of the agreement, we will take the necessary measures upon carefully listening to and fully understanding the views of the fishery operators concerned.

REPORTER: What exactly are these necessary measures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This means that should fish catches decrease or other various impacts arise as a result of this agreement, the Government will take full responsibility and address these impacts.

REPORTER: Yesterday, Chairman Kosuke Hori of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution of the LDP touched on the idea of submitting a draft revision of Article 96 of the Constitution to the current session of the Diet. What do you think about the submission of a draft revision of Article 96 during the current Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Each political party or group has different views regarding the proposal for revising the Constitution. Against this backdrop, I expect that discussions will first take place among the various political parties and groups as to what kind of Constitution will suit the needs of the new era and that these discussions will deepen going forward.


REPORTER: Some media reports indicate that the Japanese and U.S. Governments plan to announce an agreement tomorrow with regard to Japan's preliminary consultation with the U.S. for joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. What is the current status regarding this? Are arrangements being made in hopes of making the announcement tomorrow?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It has been reported to me that the content regarding the Japan-U.S. preliminary consultation is being finalized. I therefore believe that it is now in the final stage of finalizing the next steps.

REPORTER: I believe Governor Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture decided yesterday that he would not attend the ceremony for the Sovereignty Restoration Day. Can you please share your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that the Deputy Governor will attend on behalf of the Governor. In any case, we hope to have a ceremony which also clearly sets out the views of the people in Okinawa.

REPORTER: Although tomorrow will mark 17 years since the agreement concerning the return of the land used by the Futenma Air Station, the prospects for this are still uncertain. If the Government insists on relocating the Futenma Air Station to an area inside Okinawa, the Government will face difficulties under the present circumstances. This may in turn impact the gulf between the Government and Okinawa as well as the Japan-U.S. alliance. What are your opinions regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It has already been 17 years since this agreement was reached during Prime Minister Hashimoto's era. In this sense, while there have been a range of twists and turns, initially the relocation was very much welcomed. As we (the LDP) have led the administrations for the most part, I believe things must proceed as quickly as possible according to the Japan-U.S. agreement reached at that time. I also believe that we must absolutely avoid allowing the Futenma base to remain at its current location indefinitely. Furthermore, I believe that the dangerous situation must be eliminated quickly. However, amid these circumstances, the security environment surrounding Japan has become far more perilous compared to when the agreement was reached, including situations surrounding the Senkaku Islandsand the issues of North Korea. I believe the importance of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the U.S. is increasing. In this context, Japan and the U.S. believe that the proposal that the Japanese Government is trying to implement, which strives to reduce the burden of the bases faced by the people in Okinawa while maintaining deterrence, is the best proposal. Therefore, with more sincere efforts to obtain the understanding of the people in Okinawa, the Government will endeavor to fulfill the Japan-U.S. agreement from 17 years ago at the earliest possible timing. I believe this is the role of the Abe Cabinet.

REPORTER: Regarding the issue of the contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, I believe you recently instructed responses to the Secretariat of Nuclear Regulation Authority. What is the status of the considerations since then? Also, the fisheries cooperative is still lodging objections over the release of contaminated water into the sea. May I please also ask how the Government will address these matters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is deeply regrettable that accidents and problems have occurred all too frequently at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in recent days. Amid this situation, yesterday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company decided to sequentially transfer the contaminated water in the underground water storage tanks to aboveground tanks and thereafter not utilize the underground water storage tanks in principle. In addition to this, in order to properly store and manage the ever-increasing contaminated water, I believe a drastic review is needed, including bringing forward the schedule of the transfer of the contaminated water to these tanks from a mid- to long-term perspective. Furthermore, the Government must make all possible concerted efforts to properly store and manage the contaminated water in order to make sure that it does not leak to outside of the premises, including into the sea. The Government will take thorough measures so that safety is fully ensured.

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