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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Former Prime Minister Hatoyama's comments on the Senkaku Islands
  • The disclosure of monitoring activities of the U.S. Government by a former CIA employee
  • Prime Minister's comments on his Facebook page
  • A half year since the inauguration of the current administration

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning former Prime Minister Hatoyama. During an interview with a Hong Kong TV station, former Prime Minister Hatoyama commented, in relation to the Senkaku Islands, that from China's perspective he can understand why they believe the islands were stolen from them and that it is indeed a disputed territory. His comments greatly differ from the Japanese Government's understanding. Could you share with us your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Upon hearing these comments, I was at a loss for words. In fact, you might even say that I was truly flabbergasted. Former Prime Minister Hatoyama has in the past caused political confusion through his irresponsible remarks, but his recent comments reminded me that comments like this, which question the sovereignty of Japanese territory, by a man that once served as this nation's Prime Minister, is something that severely compromises national interests and is therefore absolutely intolerable. I believe that the public also share this sentiment.

REPORTER: As you said that this is "absolutely intolerable," do you intend to take some kind of action such as making a complaint to Mr. Hatoyama?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, but the Government regards these comments as absolutely intolerable.

REPORTER: Do you have any intention of contacting Mr. Hatoyama?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have no intention of contacting Mr. Hatoyama.

REPORTER: Please allow me to ask another question on the same topic. I understand that although the Government has no intention of making contact with Mr. Hatoyama, it still regards the comments as absolutely intolerable. Could you share with us what the Government believes will be the impact of such comments being made by a former Prime Minister? Could you also tell us if you believe that it is unnecessary to give Mr. Hatoyama some kind of caution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are not considering giving him any form of caution, but I would like to make clear the stance of the Government, which I believe I have just done. I am aware that Mr. Hatoyama has in the past made comments along the lines that Japan is not a possession of the Japanese people alone during Diet interpellation sessions, but I would like to emphasize that such comments significantly compromise national interests and the Government finds them absolutely intolerable.

REPORTER: Let me try asking a question from a different angle. Former Prime Minister Hatoyama made these comments to a Chinese television broadcaster, Phoenix Television Hong Kong. What do you believe were the intentions of the Chinese media in featuring these comments of Mr. Hatoyama?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe their intention is to facilitate the formation of that kind of public opinion. I believe that similar comments have also been made by others in the past.

REPORTER: I have a question on a related topic. Former Prime Minister Hatoyama will visit China tomorrow and I believe he will have the opportunity to deliver a speech. I understand that there is a possibility that he will make similar comments again, and given that the Government regards the comments as absolutely intolerable, do you intend to ask Mr. Hatoyama to refrain from making such comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Hatoyama has already left the Democratic Party of Japan and is no longer a member of the Diet. He is a private citizen. However, personally, I hope that Mr. Hatoyama makes comments that are becoming of an individual who is a former Prime Minister.

REPORTER: A former CIA employee has exposed information on the monitoring activities of the U.S. Government. There has been great interest in the development of the incident but given it was intended that this information was to remain confidential within the U.S. Government yet has been leaked, can you think of any impact this may have on the information sharing arrangements that Japan has with the U.S.? Do you think this may have any further implications, such as an impact on the allied and cooperative relations Japan shares with the U.S.?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Japanese Government does not have a comprehensive understanding of the incident. This is obviously a domestic U.S. issue and therefore I understand that it will be dealt with in the U.S.

REPORTER: Please allow me to ask another question on the same topic. It has been reported that this former CIA employee has been receiving support from the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. Do you have any concern that confidential information concerning Japan may be leaked as a result of this incident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We do not have any details of the incident; therefore we will keep an eye on developments. However, I do believe that the confidentiality of diplomatic affairs between Japan and the U.S. should be maintained.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the Prime Minister's Facebook page. Mr. Tanaka [, former Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs] yesterday made another counterargument to the Prime Minister's criticism that he did not keep a record of his diplomatic activities. Mr. Tanaka argued that there is no way that he did not keep records of negotiations with North Korea. I believe that either Mr. Tanaka or Prime Minister Abe, who was then Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary and therefore in the position of knowing this, is wrong. Could you provide us with the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I heard in the media that Mr. Tanaka made such comments. The Prime Minister, who was then serving as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary is one of the people who would know the most about the circumstances at the time. Therefore I believe that the Prime Minister published the comments on Facebook with the full knowledge and intention of taking responsibility for what he said. The abduction issue is a serious issue that concerns the sovereignty of Japan and the lives of Japanese citizens, and today remains unresolved. In light of this, as I often say, we have been working on this issue with Prime Minister Abe, who is fiercely determined to resolve this issue while he is in office. Therefore, I will not make any further comments on this topic for the sake of national interest.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm that I am correct in my understanding that the Government believes that a portion of the records are indeed missing.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, of course. That is our understanding.

REPORTER: This was raised during this morning's press conference, but tomorrow will mark six months since the inauguration of the current administration. Compared to the first Abe Cabinet, approval ratings at the six month mark are very high. As you have been involved with both Cabinets, could you share with us anything that you believe is most different in terms of the Prime Minister's political style?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Reflecting on the previous Cabinet, although we only had limited time, the Cabinet enacted important bills in the Diet one after another and we were, in this sense, very active. However, I think that during the process of deliberating on bills, perhaps we lacked strategic thinking, by this I mean we did not sufficiently engage with the public nor provide them with explanations. This time, we have established clear priorities, which are to revitalize the economy, accelerate reconstruction from the Great East Japan earthquake, and shore up crisis management - in that order. We have developed a clear order and we are running the Cabinet in line with this order, steadily and swiftly. I also believe that this time we have been afforded a little more room to breathe, which is something the previous Cabinet did not have.


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