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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, September 26, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Rising Sun Flag in relations with the Republic of Korea
  • The reflection on the past one year after PM Abe assuming Presidency of LDP
  • The PM Abe's speech at the New York Stock Exchange
  • The special intelligence protection bill

REPORTER: A member of the ruling Saenuri Party of the Republic of Korea (ROK) submitted a bill to the National Assembly to revise the penal code, which will ban the use of the Rising Sun Flag, commonly used by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and other organizations, in public places. Could you share with us the views of the Government on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of this media report. As you all know, the design of the Rising Sun Flag is widely used throughout Japan, such as good catch flags used by fishermen, celebratory flags for childbirth and seasonal festivities, and  flags of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) vessels. Claims that the flag is an expression of political assertions or a symbol of militarism are absolutely false. It appears to me that this is a large misunderstanding. As such, we would like to appropriately communicate this to the ROK Government.

REPORTER: Has the Government already been in communication with the ROK Government?


REPORTER: Am I right to understand that the stance of the Japanese Government in relation to the Rising Sun Flag is as you just stated?


REPORTER: I believe that the fact that the display of the Rising Sun Flag at occasions such as Japan-ROK soccer matches has become very controversial and has had a significant impact on Japan-ROK relations. What are your thoughts on the fact that movement such as this have arisen in the midst of series of strained Japan-ROK relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated earlier, given that the design of the flag is used broadly, such as on flags of JMSDF vessels and on flags used by fishermen, we believe that the claims of the ROK Government are not valid. We view this as a large misunderstanding and we will communicate this, as appropriate, to the ROK Government.

REPORTER: I believe that today is the one-year anniversary of Prime Minister Abe's Presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Following his assuming the role of President, the LDP regained power and significantly increased the number of seats it holds at the House of Councillors election, and eradicated the contortions brought about by the divided Diet. Given all this, it appears that for now the Government is operating smoothly. You had a large amount of involvement in the Prime Minister's campaign for presidency of the party and you have also supported the Prime Minister in your position as Chief Cabinet Secretary since the inauguration of the Government. Could you share with us your frank thoughts as you reflect on the past one year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Speaking frankly, looking back on the last year, I recall that on September 26, the Prime Minister won the close election and assumed the role of LDP President after having laid out his plan to achieve the three main goals of revitalizing the Japanese economy, having the Government take responsibility for and accelerate post-Great East Japan Earthquake reconstruction efforts, and implementing thorough risk management in relation to national security and foreign diplomacy. Since then, we have single-mindedly pursued and focused these three tasks. In one sense, I would say that it has been a long year, but it also feels like the year has gone by extremely quickly.


REPORTER: During the Prime Minister's speech at the New York Stock Exchange, the Prime Minister said that China has made much larger increases in their military spending, citing a Japanese military spend increase of no more than 0.8%. The Prime Minister then concluded the speech saying, "call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist." I believe that you have read the transcript of the speech, so could you share with us the Prime Minister's intentions when giving a speech such as this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that it is important to objectively communicate the situation to the international community. The Prime Minister has always stated that Japan would like to make proactive contributions to peace in order to advance the peace and security of the international community. During the speech, in light of the recent changes in the security environment, the Prime Minister reaffirmed this commitment. At the same time, I understand that the Prime Minister attempted to seek understanding for his political stance in an easily comprehensible manner as he referred to his basic t perception of security issues. We have been keeping a close eye on military development in China, as we view this as one of the matters of concern within the region, and have been seeking transparency. I understand that the Prime Minister  pointed out this during his speech. Regardless, China is one of Japan's most important neighbors and we have not changed our stance, in any way, of seeking to build a mutually beneficial relationship proactively, while keeping our door open to dialogue.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a related topic. In relation to what you just said, I believe that there has been stereotyped criticism by the international community, particularly the media, that the Abe Government is a right-wing militaristic government. Am I right to understand that the Prime Minister has long held the view that this is not true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, of course. Since forming the new Government, we have been driven by the desire to make a proactive contribution to peace and make a greater contribution to the peace and security of the international community under the Prime Minister's leadership. I believe that during the speech, the Prime Minister wanted to say that this stereotyped criticism is not true.


REPORTER: I would like to change the topic and ask a question concerning the special intelligence protection bill. The t ruling parties have commenced full-fledged discussions on the special intelligence protection bill, which the Government aims to enact along with the National Security Council (NSC) bill.  I understand that many people have voiced their concerns, but could you share with us why the Government believes this bill needs to be enacted during the extraordinary Diet session? Also, does the Government think that it will be able to have the bill enacted as per its schedule?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that you can appreciate that the threat of intelligence leaks is increasing rapidly. In light of this, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the prospective NSC, the trust of other nations in Japan's  system to assure information security is indispensable as we share information with other nations. Therefore, we would very much like to enact the bill concerning intelligence protection. As for the details of the bill, we have been examining various points of contention while duly respecting the public's right to access information and freedom of the press. The Government's stance is to submit the bill to the Diet and have it enacted as soon as possible after thorough discussions in ruling parties and after hearing from various representatives of the public.

REPORTER: Am I then right to understand that the Government would like to enact the bill at the same time as the NSC bill?


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