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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
  • The address of Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai
  • The survival of Ms. MegumiYokota and other abductees
  • The nomination of Dr. Janet Yellen as the Chairman of the FRB
  • The special intelligence protection bill

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP leaders' meeting has concluded. In the end the meeting did not result in any broad agreement. What is the administration's assessment of the latest round of negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, it was very regrettable that President Obama could not attend the leaders' meeting. Under those circumstances, the leaders met and exchanged candid views during the entire negotiations. We believe the meeting generated a large momentum towards the conclusion of the negotiations by the end of the year.

REPORTER: Is it correct that as you have just stated, the policy remains unchanged that Japan will aim to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that yesterday as well, a frank exchange of views took place among the leaders towards the conclusion of the negotiations by the end of the year. Japan in principle shares this view.

REPORTER: I believe there are still quite a number of items which need to be coordinated - in the case of Japan, the tariff issue, and more or less in the case of developing countries and other countries, a variety of trade rules. What area do you feel will be the number one focal point for Japan going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Truly difficult issues remain, including the issues of market access, intellectual property, and for some other countries, the environment and state-owned enterprises. I understand that the leaders have agreed to work towards the resolution of these issues.

REPORTER: When the Prime Minister returns to Japan, I believe he will naturally be briefing the Liberal Democratic Party. In terms of the efforts to be undertaken in Japan, how does the administration intend to go about reviewing the 586 items?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan has said at various fora to date that we will protect those areas that should be protected and seek to gain what should be gained. I believe there is no change at all to this Government policy. In any case, we will monitor such verification work conducted by the ruling parties, and the Government and ruling parties will work together to come up with a vision.

REPORTER: Chief Cabinet Secretary, at the outset you noted that it was regrettable that President Obama could not attend. Do you believe President Obama's inability to attend had an impact on the latest round of the TPP negotiations? Also, if your understanding is that the negotiations are delayed and so on, what are your thoughts on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe there was no impact. I have been briefed that under those circumstances, in spite of the major issues that each country faces, the leaders were able to exchange candid views and generate a large momentum towards concluding the negotiations by the end of the year. In this sense, I believe there was no impact.


REPORTER: Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai delivered an address in which he sharply criticized Japan, saying that there are a few politicians in Japan who believe that as long as they do not antagonize the United States, everything will be fine, and that they believe there is no need to care about the concerns of other countries What is your reaction to this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is completely off the mark. This statement, which was made solely from the standpoint of China's position, is close to being a piece of propaganda. As everyone is aware, Japan has built up a truly free and democratic country over 68 years following the end of the war. Along Japan's journey to date it has contributed to international peace and prosperity. I believe that says it all.

REPORTER: The statement made by the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. seems to imply that Japan is at fault for the deterioration of the Japan-China relationship in light of the Senkaku Islands  issue and others.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the statement is not worth commenting on.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Over the past several months, I believe Prime Minister Abe has considerably increased the number of messages he has sent out in the U.S. Regarding China's reaction concerning East Asia, do you get the impression that China's intention is to send out as many messages as Prime Minister Abe in the U.S.?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, we have absolutely no such impression. In any case, these were remarks made by only a single Ambassador.

REPORTER: A former senior official of a North Korean spy agency will inform the parents of Ms. Megumi Yokota about the situation when the official was still active. If I may ask once again, what is the Government's view regarding the survival of Ms. Yokota?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Of course we are convinced that Ms. Yokota is alive. I am aware that this meeting is being realized with the involvement of a support organization. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on the details. Nevertheless, in any case, the Government is currently making every effort towards collecting and analyzing information and taking other steps on the assumption that all abductees are alive. An array of efforts is being made to return all abductees to Japan as quickly as possible. That is the current status of the Government's efforts.

REPORTER: It has been decided that at 4 am Japan time tomorrow, President Obama will nominate Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) Janet Yellen to succeed Chairman Bernanke. Dr. Yellen has promoted monetary easing policy as Chairman Bernanke's right-hand woman, and her nomination is much talked about as she will become the first female Chairman of the FRB. What is the Japanese Government's view regarding this nomination? What does the Government hope in terms of Dr. Yellen's role going forward? If you could please comment on this matter.  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I believe I should refrain from speaking too much about this as the nomination has not yet been officially decided. However, we believe that Dr. Yellen is an extremely outstanding individual, having experience dealing with the financial crisis as Vice Chair with Chairman Bernanke, among other qualifications. Therefore, although we do not know who will be appointed, we are always of the view that Dr. Yellen is an outstanding individual.

REPORTER: Regarding the special intelligence protection bill, some parts of the media have reported that the Government has decided on a policy to include in the bill a provision which requires the heads of government agencies, such as ministers, to obtain the Cabinet's consent for extending the special intelligence designation period by over 30 years, in order to ensure that the period is not extended arbitrarily. Can you verify whether this is true and describe the current status of the coordination work?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that there were such reports. However, the Government is now in the process of reviewing schemes to ensure that the designation of special intelligence and the extension of the term of validity are not done arbitrarily, from a variety of perspectives. I would like to refrain from answering questions about the specifics at this moment in time.

REPORTER: Returning to the subject of Ms. Yokota, a moment ago you said you were convinced that she is alive. The fact that you used the word "convinced" - can I understand this to mean that there are facts of some sort which the Government is aware of that support the use of the word "convinced"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No, as has been stated repeatedly, we, the Government, are making efforts, such as collecting and analyzing information, on the assumption that all abductees are alive. Therefore, the Government is working hard on the assumption that Ms. Yokota is of course also alive. This is what I meant by my statement.

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