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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • Prime Minister's plan to visit Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have one announcement I would like to read out.

Prime Minister Abe, circumstances permitting, will visit Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey from April 28 to May 4. His itinerary includes meeting the leaders of each country. The Prime Minister's visit to Russia will be the first official visit in ten years by a Japanese Prime Minister, and is expected to lend new momentum and a long-term vision to the development of Japan-Russia relations.

The Prime Minister's visit to the Middle East is aimed at strengthening a comprehensive partnership, including enhancing energy security and supporting Japanese companies' business operations in the countries, supporting the stabilization of the region, and expanding cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Also, coinciding with the Prime Minister's visits to Russia and the Middle East, a Japanese business mission, which will include many corporate executives, will accompany the Prime Minister to the countries. It is expected that the accompaniment of this major business mission will contribute to the further development of Japan's economic relations with each country.


  • Japan-Russia relations
  • Yasukuni Shrine
  • The Senkaku Islands
  • The OECD's Economic Survey of Japan report

REPORTER: Regarding this announcement on the overseas visits, regarding the Russia visit, what progress does the Government hope to achieve in regard to the pending issue of the Northern Territories?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, this will be the first time in ten years for a Japanese Prime Minister to pay an official visit to Russia. We are aware that a single visit will not at once resolve the territorial issue which remains unresolved to this day, nearly 68 years after the end of the war. However, a major goal of the Prime Minister's visit to Russia is to resume negotiations on the Northern Territories and for the leaders of both countries to express and confirm their political will.

REPORTER: You stated that political will would be expressed. The Prime Minister is also later scheduled to meet with Governor Takahashi of Hokkaido Prefecture and others. When you say that political will will be expressed with a view to resolving this territorial issue, does this mean that you will strive to establish a framework of some sort or a new agreement aimed at the resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is the first time that the leaders of both countries are meeting so to speak. After all, a Japanese Prime Minister is visiting Russia for the first time in ten years. It is an unmistakable fact that this territorial issue exists. Therefore, I expect that Japan's will will be expressed as a first step towards the resolution of the issue.

REPORTER: Regarding the Prime Minister's visit to Russia, Russia is also a party to the Six-Party Talks on North Korea. In this respect, will the leaders also be discussing North Korea, including the current situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the most important thing with regard to the Prime Minister's visit to Russia is to build trust between both leaders and hold a candid and frank exchange of opinions. In this context, I believe a variety of issues will be discussed. The content is still being coordinated, and we have not decided on this.

However, North Korea's security issue is naturally an issue Japan hopes to discuss as Russia is an influential country.

REPORTER: Can you please elaborate a little further on the business mission?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that an unprecedented number will be going, beginning with the members of the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation). China…Russia and the Middle East face a variety of issues, including energy. I believe accompanying the Prime Minister will be a good opportunity to spur business exchanges between Japan and Russia or between Japan and the Middle Eastern countries they will be visiting.


REPORTER: Regarding the issue of Yasukuni Shrine, with regard to the fact that 168 Japanese Diet members visited Yasukuni Shrine, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea stated today that the Diet members must think about what impression the visit to the shrine gives to the people of relevant nations and should show deep remorse. Can you please comment on this or share counterarguments if the Japanese Government has any?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe Diet members went to the shrine today as a multiparty group. I believe all those who visited the shrine did so as a natural act. This is a matter of the heart; there is freedom of religion. Each country has its own position regarding these matters, and I believe we should adopt a broad perspective and not let our respective positions affect diplomacy.

REPORTER: On a related topic, proposals have been raised before about separately enshrining war criminals or constructing a national memorial to allow all people to pay their respects to the war dead. What are the Abe administration's views regarding these ideas?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The fact of the matter is that Yasukuni Shrine exists, and so a variety of discussions have taken place to date, including the idea of separate enshrinement.

With regard to the Yasukuni visits, as I have stated repeatedly, the administration respects the individual wishes of the Cabinet members. Visiting the shrine concerns freedom of religion, and the administration believes that the Government should not intervene in a matter of the heart. The administration leaves it to the discretion of the respective individuals.

REPORTER: The explanation you have just given regarding the Government's view on Yasukuni is well understood. However, what about the current administration's view regarding the separate enshrinement or the construction of a new national facility as was noted in the question?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is aware that there are a variety of opinions.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding China's intrusion into Japanese territorial waters. China's State Oceanic Administration has explained that its activities were in response to the navigation of Japanese boats in China's neighboring sea area. When the Japanese Government lodged a protest, did the Chinese Government also explain such a reason for its activities to the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Kawai summoned the Chinese Ambassador to Japan and strongly urged the immediate exit of all Chinese "Haijian" vessels. In this context, China stated its position regarding the Senkaku Islands. China explained its position in response to Japan's strong protest lodged at Chinese Government vessels. That is what I have been reported.

REPORTER: Does the Japanese Government view that the latest Chinese intrusion had to do with the activities of Japanese boats in the waters near Senkaku?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is what China stated, so I believe that is probably the case.

REPORTER: Related to this, can you please tell us how far in advance the Japanese Government was aware of the sailing out of the Japanese boats?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We were aware by around early April.

REPORTER: How were you aware of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government was aware that the "Ganbare Nippon! National Action Committee" was the organizer and that the boats would be heading to an area near the Senkaku Islands.

REPORTER: Did China and Japan coordinate or have any exchanges on this matter prior to today?


REPORTER: The OECD's Economic Survey of Japan report was released a short while ago. It was projected that prices will increase during this year. What are your thoughts regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe, through the general election when he was Liberal Democratic Party President, as well as after he became Prime Minister, called for and set out a variety of measures now called "Abenomics" for realizing these objectives. In particular, there were the appointment of the Governor and Deputy Governors of the Bank of Japan and the swift establishment of the draft supplementary budget. The passage of the draft of the regular budget is also in sight. The Japanese people have expectations towards the 2% price stability target that the administration has presented. Furthermore, there are international expectations regarding, specifically, yen depreciation and rising stock prices. Against this backdrop, perhaps there was a growing belief that the Japanese economy is finally starting to pick up.

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