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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, October 3, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Two-plus-Two Meeting
  • The National Strategic Special Zone

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the Two-plus-Two Meeting. The meeting today reached an agreement. Could you share your thoughts with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I view this meeting as a historic meeting where the four ministers - the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense, and the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense - met under the same roof in Tokyo. We agreed that, in order to effectively address the increasingly challenging security environment, we will share common values and build a strong alliance between Japan and the U.S., together taking on a major responsibility in the region as well as international community. I believe that today's outcome will produce significant positive results and will allow Japan and the U.S. to further pursue cooperation under the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements.

REPORTER: I believe that during the meeting, in relation to the Senkaku Islands, the U.S. mentioned that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is applicable. How do you believe this statement will affect the Senkaku Island situation, which has recently been very volatile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The U.S. has always said that the Senkaku Islands are territories that fall under the administration of the Japanese Government and that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is applicable. The U.S. delegation stated that it opposes any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration. Similar comments were also made during the joint press conference held on this occasion, which we appreciate and welcome.

REPORTER: There have been numerous incidents, such as the territorial violations by Chinese vessels, but do you believe that the comments will make China think twice about its actions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have said on a number of occasions, Japan and China are both responsible for the peace and prosperity of East Asia. We regard the Chinese military actions as a matter of concern for the region and therefore are keeping a close watch on these actions.

It was under these circumstances that the U.S. delegation made its comments at today's joint press conference. These are comments that we highly welcome.

REPORTER: Prior to the meeting, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery. Was this visit made at the request of the Japanese Government or was it their own decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As far as I have been informed, the visit was made upon the request of the US side.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a related topic. Some overseas news services have reported that the two officials commented that Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery is equivalent to Arlington National Cemetery in the U.S. Given this comment, some overseas news services also believe that the visit was meant to counter the comments made by Prime Minister Abe when he said that Yasukuni Shrine is regarded in Japan as a place similar to Arlington National Cemetery. What is your frank opinion on that speculation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that was the case, and it seems to me that some people are reading too much into the visit.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the National Strategic Special Zone. The October 1 meeting of the Headquarters for Japan's Economic Revitalization did not include employment as an item eligible for regulation relaxation within the special zone. I believe that the discussions are still underway, but while Mr. Heizo Takenaka is keen to develop a rule that increases the ease of retrenchment, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is against the development of such a rule. Could you share with us your personal thoughts on the discussion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you just said, employment was not included as an item eligible for regulation reform within the special zones. You are correct.

However, I believe that moving discussions forward on this item will continue. Three members of the Government, myself, Minister Amari and Minister Shindo, will work together to develop policies for this issue as we prepare for the submission of the bills to the extraordinary Diet session.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on the same topic. The opposition parties and labor unions have criticized the National Strategic Special Zone, saying that it will be used by exploitative companies. Will the Government make a final decision while taking developments in public opinion into consideration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Of course public opinion is something that we will take into consideration. However, we will make the decision that best serves the nation's economic development.

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