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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, April 11, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Japan's response to the situation of North Korea
  • United States Secretary of State Kerry's visit to Japan
  • The funeral of former Prime Minister Thatcher of the United Kingdom
  • Chairman of Keizai Doyukai Hasegawa's visit to the Chief Cabinet Secretary
  • Internet-based election campaigning
  • The TPP


REPORTER: The Republic of Korea (ROK) has suggested that there is a high possibility that North Korea will launch a missile on April 15, which would correspond with the anniversary of the birthday of the late Kim Il-Sung. Does the Government of Japan share this view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Up to now the ROK has made various announcements, including this one today, on the basis of information in their possession. The Government will continue to exchange information with countries concerned, including the United States and the ROK and stay up to date with various developments, such as the one you mentioned.

REPORTER: The G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting is expected to adopt a joint statement condemning the actions of North Korea. Could I ask about the Government's expectations for what this statement will contain?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting is currently taking place in London and the issue of North Korea is expected to be discussed today, the second day of the meeting. I believe that one of the outcomes of the meeting will be to issue a strong demand to North Korea to refrain from further provocative actions and to abandon nuclearization and ballistic missiles through the execution of the agreements reached in the Six-Party Talks and the United Nations Security Council resolutions. I think that it is important that any statement strongly emphasizes that unless North Korea desists from provocative actions it will find itself increasingly isolated. My understanding is that a statement along these lines is being finalized at the meeting in London. The Government hopes that the international community will make concerted efforts to cooperate in the response to North Korea.

REPORTER: A similar question was asked in this morning's press conference, but with regard to the statement issued by North Korea advising foreigners in the ROK to evacuate, does the Government consider that it is not necessary for Japanese nationals in the ROK to evacuate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than acting alone, with regard to this issue, Japan will continue to make a response in cooperation with other countries.

REPORTER: So you are saying that at the current time there is no necessity to evacuate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not heard any news of nationals of other countries leaving the ROK.

REPORTER: If every effort is being made to ensure the safety and security of Japanese nationals, I would assume that some sort of consideration is being given to specific evacuation procedures. Is this not the case?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Through our embassy we are sharing various sources of information with Japanese nationals who are residents in the ROK.

REPORTER: United States Secretary of State Kerry will start a round of visits to Japan, China and the ROK from April 12 and he is scheduled to visit Tokyo on April 14. Given the recent increasing tensions with North Korea, what kind of relationship is the Government seeking to build with the Secretary of State?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be the Secretary of State's first visit to Japan. As such, and in view of the security of the Asia-Pacific region, including the increasingly severe North Korean issue, I think it will be natural for the agenda for the visit to include talks on strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance.

REPORTER: Could you tell us the status of considerations on the dispatch of a special envoy to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, which is scheduled for April 17?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that the United Kingdom is a very important partner for Japan and in recognition of the fact that former Prime Minister Thatcher achieved a great deal in making a breakthrough in the Cold War, the Government is currently considering the appropriate way to express its respect.

REPORTER: Former Prime Minister Mori will be visiting Prime Minister Abe today at the Prime Minister's Office. Is this visit related to attendance at the funeral?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have not heard anything about that.

REPORTER: Today Mr. Yasuchika Hasegawa, Chairman of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) visited you before lunch. What matters did you discuss?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The meeting was about the Office for Healthcare and Medical Strategy, which is under my direct jurisdiction.

REPORTER: I believe that Mr. Hasegawa made a strong request to you concerning the establishment of a Japanese National Institute of Health. Could you tell us about this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We did discuss this matter, which is an extremely important one. At the same time, as the representative of the private sector business world and Keizai Doyukai, he expressed his concerns about the vertical and compartmentalized nature of government administration in Japan. He noted that he would like to see political moves to break down these vertical structures and to create a structure that is in line with the wishes of the public.


REPORTER: The bill to lift restrictions on internet-based election campaigning and to amend the Public Offices Election Law in time for the House of Councillors election in the summer has today been approved by the Special Committee on Political Ethics and Election Law of the House of Representatives. The bills are expected to be passed by the Diet by the end of this month. Can I ask for your views on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The bills have been approved and now the Government would like to see them passed by the Diet and concluded at the earliest time. As I and other politicians are unable to use the internet in election campaigns, I believe that it is extremely important to fundamentally revise the rules relating to campaigning. In this way we can reach out to more young people and other groups and arouse their interest in the political process. I hope that by making these changes it will provide an opportunity to encourage more people to see that they can express their ideas by using their vote to make changes in society. It is to this end that the Liberal Democratic Party has also given its swift approval to the bills.


REPORTER: In your morning press conference you noted that consultations between Japan and the United States on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement are in their final stages. What is the current status of coordination between the two sides towards reaching an agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The consultations are, as I said, in their final stages. We have engaged in prior consultations with the United States and it is to be hoped that a document can now be finalized.

REPORTER: There are still some countries other than the United States that have yet to agree to Japan's participation in the negotiations. Does the Government intend to announce when such consent is provided?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think that the remaining countries will be giving their approval all at once. It will be an ongoing process.


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