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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, April 22, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress's plan to visit India

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to speak about Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress's visit to India. India has previously extended invitations to Their Majesties to visit India. With last year marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and India, the Government of India has once again invited Their Majesties to visit India. Upon considering this invitation, it has been decided that the necessary arrangements will be made towards realizing Their Majesties' visit to India during this year if possible.


  • Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress's plan to visit India
  • Response to the situation of North Korea
  • The Sichuan earthquake in China
  • Japan-China relations
  • Yasukuni Shrine
  • Approval ratings in recent opinion polls

REPORTER: Regarding this visit to India of Their Majesties, I understand that the specific timing is now being coordinated. However, in making the arrangements, what are the rough dates you are aiming for?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the specific schedule, various matters still need to be worked out going forward. So at this time, I am not yet able to answer any questions regarding the timing and other details.

REPORTER: While I presume this is also currently being coordinated, I would like to ask if you can please share with us information, such as the approximate length of Their Majesties' visit to India, who they will be meeting, where they will be visiting in India, and where they will be staying, if these items have come up in your considerations as of today.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: These items have not yet been finalized. At this time I can only say that in response to the invitation, arrangements will be made towards realizing Their Majesties' visit to India as early as by the end of this year.

REPORTER: I have a related question. If India has invited Their Majesties, does this then mean that they will be treated as state guests?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally I would think so. It was an invitation.

REPORTER: I'm sorry, if I may ask one more question on this topic. I believe Japan has requested the visit to Japan of Prime Minister Singh. Does Their Majesties' visit have any bearing on this? Will it be before or after Prime Minister Singh's visit? What do you envision? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The specific dates of Prime Minister Singh's visit have not yet been decided. He is expected to visit Japan. I believe there is no link, timing-wise, between Prime Minister Singh's visit and Their Majesties' visit to India.

REPORTER: Changing the subject, concerning the issue of North Korea, there are concerns being raised that the series of visits to Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese Cabinet members will have an impact on Japan-U.S.-China-ROK cooperation and consultations on North Korea. What is the Government's view regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe there will be absolutely no impact.


REPORTER: My question is in regard to the assistance in response to the Sichuan earthquake, which was also raised in this morning's press conference. Since then, the Russian relief team has arrived in China. Has China requested Japanese assistance? Have there been any changes since this morning?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My response is the same as this morning's press conference. Also, we have confirmed that there are no facts confirming the arrival of Russia's relief team.

REPORTER: Meaning that they have not yet arrived?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, my understanding is that there are no facts supporting these reports.


REPORTER: Vice-President Komura of the Liberal Democratic Party was unable to coordinate and arrange a meeting with President Xi Jinping, and I understand that his whole visit to China has been postponed. Can you once again explain what efforts the Government will make to improve Japan-China relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and China are indeed critical for peace and prosperity in the context of the world economy and the international community. Therefore, our door is always open, and the Government will work to build a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests under the new leadership of Mr. Xi Jinping.

REPORTER: Going back to the topic of Yasukuni, the Prime Minister yesterday made an offering of a "masakaki" (votive stick). I believe that the Prime Minister will likely not visit Yasukuni Shrine during the current spring festival. However, in view of the statements he has made to date, I believe the Prime Minister may visit the shrine on August 15 or during the autumn festival. What are your thoughts regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have no idea. As I have stated before, members of the Abe administration do not have to declare whether they will or will not visit Yasukuni Shrine. At the same time, personal visits made to the shrine concern freedom of religion, and the administration believes that it is not for the Government to intervene.

REPORTER: This past weekend, various news agencies conducted opinion polls. The approval rating was high in all of the opinion polls. Even in the opinion poll that we conducted, the approval rating increased by more than six percentage points from the previous month to over 68%. What is your view regarding these approval ratings, and how do you analyze the factors behind such high approval ratings?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is better to have a higher than lower approval rating. However, without feeling elated or despair over our approval ratings, we will continue to do what needs to be done, which is unrelated to whether the approval rating increases or decreases. We will move steadily and promptly to achieve what is needed for the lives of the Japanese people. In this process, we will stick with our approach from before in taking steps forward while providing explanations to obtain the understanding of the people as much as possible.

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