Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  May 2013 >  Thursday, May 9, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, May 9, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • A resolution to dismiss Chair Kawaguchi of the Committee on Environment of the House of Councillors
  • Japan-ROK relations
  • The people's Daily of China's commentary on Okinawa
  • The reconstruction budget

REPORTER: A resolution to dismiss Chair Kawaguchi of the Committee on Environment (of the House of Councillors) was passed during the plenary session of the House of Councillors a short while ago. This is the first time that a resolution to dismiss a committee chair has been passed for either the House of Representatives or the House of Councillors. Can you please share your views on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the background in relation to Chair Kawaguchi, as everyone is aware, Chair Kawaguchi has served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and an opportunity presented itself to hold the first meeting between a Japanese politician and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, the official in charge of foreign affairs at the Communist Party of China (CCCP), since his appointment as State Councilor. Chair Kawaguchi was scheduled to return to Japan after her two-day stay in China. However, after arriving in China, this invaluable opportunity presented itself. In light of Japan's national interests, she negotiated with the members of the Committee on Environment to have the Acting Chair lead the Committee's meeting if possible. In this sense, (the extension of her stay in China without Diet approval) happened not because Chair Kawaguchi neglected her duties or because she discounted the Diet. Chair Kawaguchi had asked the Chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee and the members of the Committee on Environment. In this sense, it is very regrettable that this was not understood, which led to this outcome.


REPORTER: My question is in regard to ROK President Park Geun-hye's visit to the U.S. President Park Geun-hye delivered a speech at the U.S. Congress. Saying, "those who are blind to the past cannot see the future," the President seemed to be criticizing Japan. It seemed that the President had Japan in mind in making this criticism. What are the opinions of the Japanese Government regarding President Park's statements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that President Park of the Republic of Korea (ROK) delivered a speech as you just noted. In any case, Japan and the ROK are vital neighbors which share common values and interests, and we will strive to build future-oriented relations from a broad perspective. Furthermore, essentially every day, Prime Minister Abe has stated in his responses to questions asked at the Diet that he recognizes that Japan in the past caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations, and that in regard to this, he shares the understanding of past Cabinets. At the same time, while fully recognizing this past, Japan embarked on a post-war path based on its deep remorse and has thoroughly safeguarded freedom, democracy, and fundamental human rights. We believe that Japan has striven to share these universal values with many countries and made a variety of contributions to the peace and stability of the region and the world. We believe that Japan's path and history after the war should be given a fair assessment.

REPORTER: Every day, Prime Minister Abe has explained as such in the responses he has provided at the Diet. Meanwhile, every day, President Park has been repeating critical statements of Japan. I believe that Japan's position is not understood by the ROK. What kinds of actions does the Government intend to take vis-?-vis the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will strive to obtain the ROK's understanding with regard to our position, which I have just described, by using an array of diplomatic channels.

REPORTER: Despite the fact that Prime Minister Abe has been explaining his position every day at the Diet and elsewhere, the ROK still comes out with these statements. Is it not conceivable that Prime Minister Abe's explanations are insufficient?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is not because of Prime Minister Abe per se. These issues have also arisen during past Cabinets as a result of visits to Yasukuni Shrine and other reasons. As I have just stated, we share the same recognition as past Cabinets. Japan has been embarking on a path of peace since the end of the war based on our deep remorse, while fully recognizing the past. Therefore, we will thoroughly explain this.

REPORTER: Yesterday, the People's Daily published a commentary on Senkaku or Okinawa. I believe you stated yesterday that the explanation provided in the commentary was unreasonable or lacking in judgment. Which parts of the commentary were you objecting to?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What I stated yesterday was this. I was asked what I thought about what was said in the commentary, so I stated that if what the reporter said is accurate, then the content was very much baseless.

REPORTER: I have actually taken a look at the commentary, but it is not written anywhere that China has sovereignty over Okinawa. What is the Japanese Government's view of this fact, including of this commentary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have not seen this commentary. Yesterday, the question that was asked to me suggested that China had claimed that the Senkaku Islands were its own territory. Therefore, I stated here yesterday that as there is no doubt that they were an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law, the statement in the commentary was entirely contrary to historical facts and was unreasonable.

REPORTER: In that case, is it alright to understand that the Japanese Government does not conceive that the Chinese Government is asserting Okinawa is Chinese territory?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the People's Daily dated May 8 published a commentary stating that history's unresolved questions relating to the Ryukyu have "reached a time for reconsideration," and that in response to this, China's Spokesperson stated to the effect that scholars have long paid attention to the history of the Ryukyu and Okinawa. However, this was not the question that was asked to me yesterday. In response to the commentary in the People's Daily and to the statement made by the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Government has expressed its grave concern that if the article represents the position of the Chinese Government, then Japan absolutely cannot accept it and will lodge a strong protest. I have been informed that China stated that the article was written by researchers in their personal capacity.

REPORTER: On a related matter, then the Japanese Government has already lodged a protest as you just stated.


REPORTER: What level of the Japanese Government lodged a protest to what level of the Chinese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan lodged a protest to the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo in Japan. Also, in the evening, the Japanese Embassy in China lodged a protest to the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Asia of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

REPORTER: Is it correct to understand that this took place yesterday?


REPORTER: If I may ask once again, as you just stated, the People's Daily is, unlike a Japanese newspaper, a state-run newspaper of the Communist Party of China. What are your thoughts regarding the fact that such a commentary on Okinawa was published in a state-run newspaper of the Communist Party of China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan absolutely cannot accept it, and therefore, immediately lodged a protest to China. China has then responded that this article was written by researchers in their personal capacity.


REPORTER: Regarding the reconstruction budget, today, the Asahi Shimbun reported that the Government has again misappropriated the reconstruction budget. Specifically, out of the 1.2 trillion yen, for example, some funds were used for a forest road development project in Oita Prefecture. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has explained that this was to ensure the stable supply of timber necessary for reconstruction. I thought it was the Abe administration's policy to not, in principle, utilize the reconstruction funds in areas outside of the disaster area. What is the Government's view of the current situation, of the fact that the availability of the funds as a "fund" allows for these loopholes?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of today's newspaper report. Also, the Prime Minister was asked this question about a week ago at the Diet. An investigation is now being carried out quickly with regard to the status of the execution of this fund applicable to projects nationwide, and the investigation details should be coming out shortly. I believe it was at the meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors that the Prime Minister stated that he intended to deal with this matter pertaining to the fund related to the reconstruction budget, including the suspension of the execution of the fund. Therefore, the circumstances are being reviewed once more accordingly. This problem has long continued since the previous administration. In fact, it was after we took back the administration that we started a campaign to not permit misappropriations. The investigation is under way, and the report should be coming out shortly. After receiving the report, if it is found that misappropriation did in fact take place, then the Government will take measures, including the suspension of the execution.

REPORTER: There were cases of misappropriations when the Democratic Party of Japan led the government. When the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan retook the administration, misappropriation was prohibited. What do you think about the fact that misappropriation continued to take place in the form of the fund even after misappropriation was prohibited?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is the basic policy of the Government that misappropriations are not permitted even in the context of the fund. Misappropriations should not be carried out. The government's basic policy is that the reconstruction fund must be used for reconstruction. If misappropriation is found, then we will review and correct this, and take measures, including the suspension of the execution.

Page Top

Related Link