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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, May 30, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • The Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V)

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Over three days from June 1 to 3, the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) will be held in Yokohama. Following the Cabinet meeting on May 31, Prime Minister Abe will head to Yokohama to attend the conference as the Chair, as well as meet with the leaders of African nations. TICAD was launched in 1993 at Japan's initiative, calling upon the support of the United Nations (UN) and other stakeholders. TICAD V marks the 20th anniversary of TICAD and is a conference to be commemorated. Many participants are expected to attend this conference, including the leaders of African nations and members of organizations in Africa, international organizations, donors, private companies, and civil society. Focusing on Africa's growth, discussion will take place on Africa in the future and the efforts of Japan and the rest of the international community.

On June 1, Prime Minister Abe will hold the awarding ceremony of the Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize and banquet, with the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and will present the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize to two individuals who have made contributions in the areas of medical research and medical services for Africa.


  • The abduction issue
  • A censure motion of the Osaka City Council against Mayor Hashimoto
  • The Nikkei Stock Average

REPORTER: According to a report in the Dong-a Ilbo of the Republic of Korea (ROK), a son of a Japanese abductee was among the nine defectors from North Korea who were captured in Laos and were deported to North Korea. He is believed to be the son of Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto. Is the Japanese Government aware of this fact?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that there was such a news report. The Government regularly makes efforts to collect information regarding the safety of Japanese abductees, and with regard to this matter as well, we are working hard to confirm the facts, including contacting relevant countries. Due to the nature of this matter, I would like to refrain from responding. 

REPORTER: Related to this, then you are saying that the Government is still not aware of the fact?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The facts are being confirmed at this moment in time, and I would like to refrain from responding about any further details. In any case, the Government is collecting and analyzing information and carrying out other actions on the assumption that all abductees are alive. We will continue to make all kinds of efforts aimed at the return to Japan of all abductees at the earliest possible date.

REPORTER: You said "due to the nature of this matter." Although the article does not explicitly name Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto, is the Japanese Government confirming whether the child is the son of abductee Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto on the basis of the possibility? Also, is my understanding correct that this is being done through the channel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The facts are being confirmed through diplomatic channels.


REPORTER: During an interview by a commercial TV broadcaster yesterday, the Prime Minister stated with regard to the First Secretary of North Korea that, as the leader of a new era, his administration is in a position to make the correct decision. Did the Prime Minister make this statement to encourage the North Korean leader to make a decision on the basis of a response of some kind received on the occasion of Special Advisor to the Cabinet Iijima's visit to North Korea? Or was this no more than just an expression of his expectations? I would like to hear about the Prime Minister's intentions.     

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, the Prime Minister is tackling this matter with a strong determination to see to it that he himself resolves this abduction issue. I believe among those accountable, only Secretary Kim Jong-un can resolve this abduction issue. In this respect, we have made our views clear with regard to the abduction issue. In this context, we are making every effort to reach a complete resolution. I believe the Prime Minister made his statement in this context.

REPORTER: According to the news report, Laos deported these defectors. Does the Japanese Government have any plans to lodge a protest of some kind to Laos regarding the response of the Laotian Government? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are now confirming the facts and are making every effort to negotiate through diplomatic channels.


REPORTER: It is expected that today, a censure motion of the Osaka City Council will be submitted against Mayor Hashimoto of Osaka City and that this will be passed. Secretary-General Matsui of the Japan Restoration Party has said that if the censure motion is passed, the Mayor would resign to force a mayoral election and seek re-election. How do you interpret this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This matter concerns a local council, and I believe it depends on respective judgments. Therefore, it is not a matter of how the Government interprets this. I am aware only that there are these things going on.  


REPORTER: My question is in regard to the holding of TICAD which you discussed in your opening statement. In your opening statement, you stated that discussion will take place with a focus on Africa's growth. However, what about resource diplomacy vis-à-vis Africa? In January, there was also the terrorist attack in Algeria. In view of these matters, although it may overlap with your opening statement, can you once again explain what expectations the Government holds for the upcoming TICAD? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Needless to say, Africa will experience remarkable growth going forward. With TICAD marking its 20th anniversary, I believe that through the years trust has been forged between Japan and Africa. As 40 leaders from 51 countries will be attending this conference in Yokohama, I believe that in a sense this will be the most suitable opportunity to resolve the variety of issues between Japan and Africa. Thanks to the wholehearted efforts of the people of Yokohama, they too will participate in the conference and work to enhance the friendship between Japan and Africa. In this sense, I believe this is the most fantastic opportunity to develop the kizuna (bonds of friendship) between Japan and Africa and resolve the variety of issues between Japan and Africa.  

REPORTER: Sorry, I have a related question. Chief Cabinet Secretary, as you said, TICAD will be held in your hometown of Yokohama for the second consecutive time. The conference is being held in Yokohama, your hometown in your locality. What is the significance of holding the conference in Yokohama, if any?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: When TICAD was held in Yokohama for the first time during the first Abe Cabinet, the people of Yokohama made an all-out effort to hold this conference, and I have heard that very positive feedback was received from the African leaders. I imagine that these factors may have contributed to the decision to hold the conference in Yokohama for the second time. 

REPORTER: A short while ago, you stated that around 40 leaders from Africa will be attending TICAD. I believe Prime Minister Abe will be holding "marathon meetings." As China strengthens its influence in Africa in recent years, what do you expect to achieve from these meetings? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Chinese leaders have visited Africa a number of times, right? Japanese leaders, if I'm not mistaken, have not visited Africa since Prime Minister Koizumi. As Japanese leaders have not visited for a while, in this sense this is a great opportunity. Even in the context of the entire globe, Africa has a lot of potential for economic development. The size of its population is also a factor. Conversely, Africa also faces an array of issues, including poverty and disease. We, Japan, would like to cooperate as much as possible on these fronts, so that Japan and Africa can mutually develop and build friendly and amicable relations. These are the things we expect from the upcoming conference.

REPORTER: Today, the Nikkei Stock Average dipped below 14,000 at one point. One week has passed today since stock prices have started to decline. What do you think about the fact that turbulence in the market has still not calmed down? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Indeed, the Nikkei declined below 14,000 at one point. Nonetheless, commenting on each and every such move will cause unnecessary confusion to the market, and for this reason, I will refrain from commenting. However, the Japanese economy is steadily recovering. In the OECD Economic Outlook released yesterday as well, it was stated that a determined policy approach, depreciation of the yen, restoration of the private sector's confidence, among other factors, have promoted growth, and from this standpoint, the outlook was revised upwards from the previous outlook. Based on these reasons, I believe it is necessary to respond calmly to stock trends. As I stated the other day, the Nikkei average increased too rapidly. In this sense, stocks have to consistently adjust or have to adjust at some point, and I believe this is in fact what is happening. In any case, naturally we will monitor the market trends going forward. The administration will continue to pursue the three prongs in an integrated manner to quickly overcome deflation and achieve sustainable private demand-led economic growth. I believe this is what it all boils down to.

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