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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • An overview of the Cabinet meeting
  • Prime Minister's decision to present and confer National Honor Awards to Mr. Nagashima and Mr. Matsui in the baseball field

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved four written answers in response to letters of questions by Diet members, as well as legislation proposals, a cabinet order, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Shimomura and Prime Minister Abe respectively made statements concerning the "Modality of the System of the Board of Education, etc. (second proposal)" of the Education Rebuilding Implementation Council. I made a statement concerning the presentation of National Honor Awards to Mr. Shigeo Nagashima and Mr. Hideki Matsui.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Shindo made a statement concerning the transfer of work and rights from the national government to local governments, among other matters.

Today, the Prime Minister has decided to present and confer National Honor Awards to Mr. Shigeo Nagashima and Mr. Hideki Matsui. Mr. Shigeo Nagashima has left numerous outstanding achievements in the history of Japanese baseball with his fighting spirit and his ability to succeed in tough situations. As a national star in the baseball world admired by many Japanese people and loved by all, Mr. Nagashima made significant contributions to the development of baseball and his accomplishments both deeply move the Japanese people and deliver hopes and dreams to society. Mr. Hideki Matsui has left his mark in a new territory in baseball by producing global achievements on both the Japanese and U.S. stages with his tireless effort and wholehearted play. Furthermore, he is loved and respected by many in Japan and the U.S., and his numerous achievements have brought inspiration and joy to the Japanese people, stirring the hopes and dreams of many youths throughout the country. The Prime Minister has decided to honor and award these two individuals for their accomplishments. The award ceremony will be held on May 5 at Tokyo Dome.


  • The explosion incident in Boston
  • Response to the situation of North Korea
  • The TPP
  • Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Japan


REPORTER: With regard to the bombings at the Boston marathon, first, what is the status regarding the safety of Japanese nationals? Secondly, the U.S. Government has expressed the view that this was a terrorist attack. Is it correct to understand that the Japanese Government also holds the same opinion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to express my sincere condolences to those who were killed or wounded in this tragic incident as well as to their families. With regard to Japanese nationals, the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston is currently leading the work to confirm their safety. As of now, no report has come in regarding any harm suffered by Japanese nationals. The Government is in close contact with the U.S. Government. According to U.S. authorities, the incident is still under investigation. In any event, Japan is working earnestly to gather information, including about the facts behind the incident, through our Consulate and other channels.

REPORTER: Concerning the North Korean missile, nothing particularly striking happened today either?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That's right. Japan is working principally with the U.S., the Republic of Korea (ROK), and other countries to collect information while still maintaining a sense of urgency. So far there has not been anything out of the ordinary. Japan continues to stand ready to protect the lives and safety of the Japanese people.

REPORTER: Regarding North Korea's missile launch, it seems as though we may need to anticipate this situation dragging on for some time. How will the Japanese Government cope with this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: So long as the current situation remains unchanged, we must naturally continue to take responses with a sense of tension.

REPORTER: On this subject of North Korea, the Government of North Korea has declared the immediate commencement of a military demonstration in response to the ROK and has again repeatedly made radical statements, including about retaliatory actions. What is the view of the Japanese Government regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you are aware, North Korea has repeatedly adopted provocative words and actions to date. While standing fully ready to deal with North Korea without being swayed by these words and actions, Japan is making earnest efforts to convey to North Korea through diplomatic channels that translating provocative words into actions will have absolutely no benefit.

REPORTER: Changing the topic, I have a question regarding the agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The outline of the agreement document released by the Japanese Government states that agricultural products are sensitivities and priority products, while the agreement document released by the U.S. does not make that statement. Moving forward, I believe various concerns will be raised, either within the Liberal Democratic Party or by various other parties, regarding this essential fact - the fact that statements released by Japan and the U.S. respectively for their domestic audiences sometimes contain and other times do not contain statements on Japan's key agricultural products. What is your opinion regarding this concern?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that is impossible. Japan and the U.S. exchanged letters. These are the agreement documents. Both documents state, "Japan and the United States look forward to working together closely in the TPP negotiations on rules and market access, recognizing that both countries have bilateral trade sensitivities, such as certain agricultural products for Japan and certain manufactured products for the United States." I believe there are no discrepancies between the letters of Japan and the U.S. With regard to your question a moment ago regarding the U.S. announcement, it has been confirmed. However, the agreement statement was partially posted as such on the U.S. Government website. Therefore, I believe this is not the agreement statement but the U.S. summary of it which is on its website. Only one copy of the agreement statement was mutually exchanged, and "agricultural products" is clearly stated in the statement.


REPORTER: Regarding Myanmar, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is visiting Japan. Are there plans for her to meet with Japanese Government officials?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is in Japan and is meeting with various people from the traditionally concerned sectors or exchanging opinions with a variety of people regarding infrastructure in Myanmar in view of its future. I believe we, senior Japanese Government officials, and Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi have only exchanged views at the official level. While it has not yet been set, I understand that she is also scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister.

REPORTER: Myanmar also faces issues such as the conflict between Buddhists and Muslims and ethnic minorities. What kind of commitments will Japan make to Myanmar going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In this sense, as I have stated here before, a Cabinet decision was made to appoint Mr. Sasakawa, I believe, as Japan's Special Envoy. Mr. Sasakawa is a deeply trusted figure in the issue of ethnic minorities and is deemed to be a person who can act as a mediator in these conflicts. So the Japanese Government has decided to appoint him as a Special Envoy. In this sense, there is mutual trust, and I hope Japan can lead the efforts to reach reconciliation and establish the basis for further development.


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