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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Comments made by Governor of Tokyo Inose in relation to Tokyo's bid for the Olympics
  • Response to the situation of North Korea
  • Japan-Russia Summit Meeting
  • The meeting between the Japanese Minister of Defense and the U.S. Secretary of Defense
  • The review of the right to collective self-defense

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the comments made by Governor of Tokyo Inose. In the morning he said that his comments had been misinterpreted but in the afternoon to some journalists he said "I would like to apologize for my inappropriate comments that caused misunderstanding. I was inconsiderate and I would like to be able to take those comments back." I assume that when the Governor said that he wanted to take his comments back he was referring to when he said "the only thing Islamic nations have in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other and they have classes." Could you share with us again the Government's view of this and how you think it will affect Tokyo's bid for the Olympics?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the Governor made these comments. I have been informed that the Governor was also quoted as saying, "I made inappropriate comments and would like to apologize and would also like to be able to take them back. In the future I will remain respectful of other cities as we continue our bid." As the Governor mentioned, Tokyo's bid for the Olympics will be carried out while remaining respectful of other cities, in keeping with the Olympic Charter and the International Olympic Committee's Code of Ethics. I believe that the Governor's comments expressed his determination to continue their Olympic bid in this way. I also believe that the Governor made this statement in the full knowledge that his comments were misunderstood and had caused the current situation.

REPORTER: To what extent do you believe the Governor's comments will affect the Olympic bid?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Governor himself took back the comments, he took back the comments after apologizing for them. He also made it clear that he had no intention of criticizing other cities and that he will continue to work for the bid while being respectful. Therefore, the Government believes that it will have no effect on the Olympic bid.

REPORTER: Please let me ask another question. I understand that Prime Minister Abe is planning to visit Turkey. Do you think this will have any effect on that visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that it will have any effect. Japan regards Turkey as an extremely important country, which is why the Prime Minister is planning a visit. Therefore, if there are any bitter feelings, I believe that the Prime Minister will address the issue by communicating the Governor's apology and desire to take back and set straight the comments, which he did during a press conference. I trust that the Prime Minister has a good understanding of the situation; therefore I don't believe there will be any issues.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding North Korea. The U.S. and the Republic of Korea will complete their military exercise today. Could you tell us, once again, how the Japanese Government sees the North Korean situation and also if there is any possibility that the Japanese Government will change the state of alert in relation to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Japanese Government holds great concerns for the development of the North Korea missile situation and has been striving to gather and analyze information. The Prime Minister has also instructed us to be ready to respond to any possible situation, therefore, in keeping with these instructions, we are on vigilant alert while cooperating with the U.S. with the determination to remain as ready as possible in order to protect the lives and safety of citizens.

REPORTER: My question is in relation to yesterday's Japan-Russia Summit Meeting. I believe that President Vladimir Putin explained that when Russia resolved its border dispute with China they decided to divide the disputed territory into equal parts. I do not know the intentions of the President, however if we were to use this same method for the Northern Territories, a portion of Etorofu must be handed over. If this proposal actually exists, do you believe that this is a reasonable proposition?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yesterday's summit meeting finally brought us to the start line, or the re-start line. Therefore, I believe that discussions will start from now while more closely considering the national interests of each party. However, Japan's policy on advancing the handover of the islands is based on the presupposition that the four islands are attributed to Japan. Since the meeting was only held yesterday, we are not yet able to consider such proposals. In principle we would like to first confirm that all the four islands are attributed to Japan, and then we would like to start negotiations on a hand over. This is our basic stance and the position from which we would like to start.

REPORTER: I believe that the Japanese Minister of Defense and the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Charles Hagel, held a meeting during which they reconfirmed that the Senkaku Islands are to be protected under the security partnership of Japan and the U.S. Could you tell us the Government's view on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that Secretary of Defense Hagel stated that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands following similar comments made in a meeting involving President Obama and the Prime Minister and comments during a meeting involving Secretary of State John Kerry and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida. I believe that both Secretary of Defense Hagel and the Japanese Minister of Defense reaffirmed this. This reaffirmation is welcomed by the Government. It is an undeniable fact that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law, and I understand that both countries agreed on this and I am very glad that we were able to reaffirm the importance of the issue.

REPORTER: On the other hand I believe the deployment of an additional 12 Osprey aircraft to Futenma Air Station was also agreed upon during this meeting. I believe that Okinawan residents will disapprove of this, so how does the Government view this decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The deployment of Osprey aircraft has already been decided and, in fact, the Japanese Government has been notified of this. Following this, I believe that naturally the Government must consider ways to, as much as possible, reduce the burden borne by Okinawa.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the review of the right to collective self-defense, which is currently being carried out by the Government. I believe that since the first meeting of experts on this issue there have been no further developments. Could you share with us your schedule for meetings of experts and provide us with a rough idea of when you are hoping to come to a conclusion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that I have mentioned this before, but I understand that this issue is currently being addressed by experts' meetings and a working team. I believe that when they establish a direction, a meeting involving the remainder of Cabinet will be held. Regardless, as I said before, I believe that this will be sometime after autumn.

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