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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, May 23, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Japan-North Korea relations
  • Prime Minister's visit to Myanmar
  • Korea JoongAng Daily newspaper's column
  • The number of overseas visitors to Japan
  • Long-term interest rates

REPORTER: A short while ago Special Advisor to the Cabinet Isao Iijima stated that working level consultations concerning his visit to North Korea had all been completed and that any decisions from now would be made by the Prime Minister and yourself. What are the Government's intentions with regard to how to go about Japan-North Korea consultations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given the nature of this subject I will refrain from making any comment.

REPORTER: From tomorrow Prime Minister Abe will embark on a visit to Myanmar. I believe that one of the aims of the visit is to boost Japanese infrastructure exports, such as postal systems, etc. What are the Government's expectations with regard to economic cooperation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that Myanmar is currently in the process of advancing democratization, national reconciliation and economic reforms, the Government believes that it is of the utmost importance for Japan to provide assistance for these reform efforts. There is a growing necessity to advance infrastructure development in Myanmar for the purpose of achieving sustainable economic growth, and Japan seeks to provide active assistance through the provision of the various technologies and knowledge we possess. I believe that Prime Minister Abe's visit to Myanmar will provide an opportunity to engage in discussions in Myanmar from such a perspective.


REPORTER: The JoongAng Daily newspaper of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has recently featured a column that stated that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were "divine punishment," and also sought to suggest that the widespread killing of non-combatants was acceptable. What are the Government's views on this column?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government considers the expressions used in the article that you mention to be truly disgraceful. On May 21, via the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, the Government issued a strong protest to the persons concerned at the JoongAng Daily newspaper. Given the fact that Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered atomic bombings, such understanding and expressions with regard to the bombings cannot be tolerated. I believe that it is important for the people of both Japan and the ROK to react calmly.


REPORTER: The number of overseas visitors to Japan exceeded 920,000 persons in April, the highest figure ever recorded and the first time visitors exceeded 900,000 persons. I believe that the weaker yen and the expansion of discount airline routes are behind the increase in visitors. What are your thoughts on the impact of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on visitor numbers?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The news about overseas visitor numbers is very good news indeed. The Abe Cabinet aims to make Japan a tourism-oriented country and has established a ministerial council and working group for this purpose, and the Government recognizes tourism to be an extremely significant area in terms of the nation's growth strategy. Tourism was also included in the Prime Minister's policy speech to the Diet. In that sense, I believe that the weaker yen, which has come about as the result of "Abenomics," has had an effect on visitor numbers. With regard to the impact of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the Government has been making efforts to eradicate reputational damages. During the recent Golden Week holidays members of the Cabinet, including ministers, senior vice-ministers and parliamentary secretaries, made overseas visits, where they engaged in efforts to seek understanding about the importance of eliminating such reputational damages. In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Tourism Agency the Government as a whole will continue to make efforts to further increase the number of visitors to Japan.


REPORTER: Returning to the topic of North Korea, although my memory is a little hazy, I seem to recall a report in the ROK media that quoted an interview with a former Korean Ambassador to Japan. In this interview it was suggested that a visit by the Prime Minister to North Korea could take place soon, maybe even by the end of the month. What is the current outlook concerning a visit by the Prime Minister to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I will refrain from making a response to this question. What I would state once again is that the basic stance of the Abe Cabinet with regard to North Korea is to comprehensively resolve the outstanding issues of concern such as the abduction, nuclear and missile issues. With regard to the abduction issue the three basic principles are to ensure the safety and the immediate return to Japan of all the abductees, obtain a full account concerning the abductions, and realize the handover of the perpetrators of the abductions. The Government is making every endeavor to that end. As you are all aware, Prime Minister Abe is engaging in this issue with a strong determination to seek a resolution himself, during the term of this administration.

REPORTER: Minister Keiji Furuya has issued a statement concerning North Korea yesterday. I have a question concerning the stance of the Government. If the abduction issue were to be completely resolved, could it be conceivable that the Government would restore relations with North Korea, even though other issues, such as the nuclear issue, remain outstanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, the Government's basic stance is to comprehensively resolve the outstanding issues of concern such as the abduction, nuclear and missile issues.

REPORTER: What is the order in which such issues would be resolved?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: For Japan the resolution of the abduction issue is of great importance, but it is the case that the nuclear and missile issues are also of great importance for Japan and the international community.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning long-term interest rates. The yield on 10-year Japanese government bonds today went above 1 percent and continues to rise. What is the Government's view with regard to long-term interest rates?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The yield on 10-year Japanese government bonds has risen above 1 percent against the backdrop of rising share prices and higher interest rates in the United States. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on such market movements. The Bank of Japan has introduced quantitative and qualitative monetary easing. Accordingly, I believe that the Bank of Japan is working with market participants to try to create venues for increased interaction and opinion exchange on matters such as financial market adjustments and the market situation overall. Given this closer interaction and linkage I believe that an appropriate response will be made to the movements in the markets.


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