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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, November 14, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • Prime Minister's visits to Cambodia and Laos

If scheduling permits, Prime Minister Abe is planning to make official visits to Cambodia and Laos between November 16 and 17 during which he will participate in summit meetings with each country. It will be the first visit by a Japanese Prime Minister in 13 years to either of these countries. In light of the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015, Cambodia and Laos are important partners in our joint efforts to increase cohesion within the region. It is hoped that the visits will not only strengthen economic relations with the two nations, but also strengthen our cooperative relationships in various areas including politics, security, and interpersonal and cultural exchange. The Prime Minister and his counterparts from Cambodia and Laos are also planning to share their views on regional affairs and the issues faced by the broader international community. This marks the fifth visit to Southeast Asia by the Prime Minister Abe this year, 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, with Cambodia and Laos being the final two nations of ASEAN to be visited. The Prime Minister is planning to make the most of this opportunity and strengthen cooperation for the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit to be held this December in Tokyo.


  • The Japan - ROK relations
  • The issues related to the situation in the Philippines affected by the typhoon
  • The issue related to Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress' funeral arrangements

REPORTER: Earlier today, members of the Japan-Korea Cooperation Committee (JKCC) and the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea (ROK) visited the Prime Minister. Following the meeting, ROK representatives stated that Prime Minister Abe expressed his hope that a summit meeting involving Japan, China and the ROK will be held as soon as possible. Could you please share the facts with us and tell us your views?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Earlier, the Prime Minister received a courtesy call from a group of JKCC members. During the meeting, the Prime Minister stated that the ROK is an important neighboring country for Japan and one with which we share fundamental values such as freedom and democracy. The Prime Minister commended the JKCC's significant involvement and effort in the development of Japan-ROK relations since its establishment in 1969, adding that he hopes for the continued success of the committee. As for the summit meeting you just mentioned, the administrative vice ministers of the three countries have already commenced discussions for that purpose. I have also been informed that the participants of the meeting agreed that although Japan-ROK relations are currently strained, it is crucial that the two nations cooperate in a wide variety of areas, for example, the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

REPORTER: Currently, Japan-ROK relations are strained. What role do you expect the JKCC to play?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The committee has a history of devoting itself wholeheartedly to the development of Japan-ROK relations since 1969. In light of this, while there are a number of issues between the two countries and it is currently a challenging situation, I expect that the committee will play a role in helping the two countries communicate better, address issues amicably and build mutually cooperative relationships.

REPORTER: Yesterday, Prime Minsiter Abe met with the ROK Ambassador to Japan. Could you share with us what the aim of this meeting was and how the Government intends to approach future diplomacy with the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As for the aim of the meeting, it was not the Japanese Government that arranged the meeting, it was the Ambassador who requested the courtesy call, which we accepted. As I just said, the ROK is an important neighbor for Japan, with which we share fundamental values and interests. I have been informed that the Prime Minister and the Ambassador exchanged views on various topics with this understanding in mind.

REPORTER: I understand that yesterday's visit by the Ambassador was the first of its kind. On this occasion, the Ambassador stated that he hoped the Prime Minister would promptly settle issues of the past and become a leader who makes progress toward the future. Could you share with us your thoughts on these comments by the Ambassador?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not know where the Ambassador made those comments. I understand he expressed his own views.

REPORTER: I would like to ask another question concerning the ROK. Today President Park Geun-hye said in the ROK that she would like to have a joint textbook compiled by the three Northeast Asian nations. I think different countries have different views of history. Could you share your thoughts with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of these media reports. The Japanese Government has explained to the ROK Government on many occasions our stance and the efforts we have made to date. The Japanese Government has asked the ROK Government to acknowledge our position, and I sincerely hope that they can be amenable to Japan's message. Regardless, as I just said, from the perspective that the ROK is an extremely important neighbor, we will work with persistence and determination to build a cooperative relationship between the two countries.

REPORTER: It has been reported in media that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is planning to revise the school textbook examination procedure and include a regulation that would oblige textbooks to incorporate the unified views of the Government in relation to descriptions concerning historical events and territorial issues . Could you tell us how discussions are progressing, and, in relation to this, how you think this move will affect Japan-ROK and Japan-China relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that in relation to this issue, the textbook reform is being discussed under the leadership of Minister Shimomura. In the interest of enabling children to learn from textbooks that meet the requirements of the Basic Act on Education, which was revised for the first time in approximately 60 years by the first Abe administration, I understand discussions are currently taking place under the leadership of the minister following the recommendations made by the LDP special division on school textbook examination. Please direct your questions to Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Shimomura if you have any further queries.

REPORTER: I would like to add something to the question concerning the comments made by President Park Geun-hye. When she said the three Northeast Asian countries, I believe that she had Japan, China and the ROK in mind. What are your thoughts on this idea of jointly compiling a textbook?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not sure what the President meant exactly, but the Japanese Government has earnestly explained the position of Japan to the ROK Government. Therefore, I hope that the ROK Government will acknowledge our efforts and our position.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the Philippines. If you have any updates on the safety of Japanese nationals could you share them with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There has not been any progress since this morning's press conference. Nevertheless, we are currently doing our very best to confirm the safety of the remaining unaccounted Japanese nationals.


REPORTER: Please allow me to change the topic. It has been reported that former Prime Minister Hatoyama said yesterday in Hong Kong that he is ashamed of Prime Minister Abe's comments as a Japanese citizen. Could you share with us your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not feel that this is worth commenting on.

REPORTER: Returning to the previous topic, if I may, I would like to ask a question concerning the disaster in the Philippines. I believe the Government is preparing 1000 Self Defense Force (SDF) personnel. Could you tell us how discussions for their deployment are progressing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are currently in discussions with the Philippine Government.

REPORTER: Am I correct to understand that at this stage there is no prospect of deployment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that the Philippine Government has expressed their desire for the deployment to take place and we have already made preparations. Therefore I believe it now comes down to coordinating the final plans and working out the specifics.

REPORTER: It appears to me that the current administration puts a special focus on Southeast Asia and ASEAN nations, as illustrated by the Prime Minister's trip to Laos. Could you once again share with us your thought on the significance of the unprecedented deployment of 1,000 SDF troops?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: On March 11 in 2011, Japan experienced a devastating disaster of its own. We received a substantial amount of aid from many countries. The Philippines is a friend of Japan and we naturally feel that in times of disaster like this, it is important that we do everything we can to help.


REPORTER: I understand that during yesterday's Japan-ROK Defense Vice -Ministerial Meeting, the ROK Government expressed its concern for the development of the debate within Japan relating to the collective right to self-defense. In light of the situation that the two countries have yet to be able to hold a summit meeting, how does the Japanese Government plan to seek the understanding of the ROK on this topic?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, Japan and the ROK are truly important neighbors, so it is only natural that we explain our views on national security and I think that the ROK will understand our stance from our explanations.

REPORTER: I believe that the Imperial Household Agency has just made an announcement concerning Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress' funeral arrangements, which will be conducted in line with their wishes. Could you first share with us the Government's thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have been informed of the outcome of the discussions by the Imperial Household Agency via Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita. We have taken special note of the wishes of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress concerning their cremation and other funeral arrangements. Due to the nature of the topic, I will not comment any further on behalf of the Government.

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