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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, February 10, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Tomorrow, February 11, is National Foundation Day. I would like to announce that in marking this occasion, the Prime Minister decided to issue a message this year. The Prime Minister has also issued messages on other public holidays such as Marine Day. The issuance of this latest message is intended to broadly communicate the purpose of National Foundation Day among the public, and celebrate and share this with the Japanese people. In the message, the Prime Minister expresses appreciation for the efforts made by those who have gone before us, and renews his determination towards building a better nation. For more information, I ask that you please take a look at the material in front of you.


  • The issues related to the message on National Foundation Day
  • The issues related to the entry of a Japanese research whaling vessel into New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zon
  • The issues related to Trans-Pacific Partnership

REPORTER: If I may confirm, is this the first time that a Japanese Prime Minister will be issuing a message on the occasion of National Foundation Day?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is the first time.       

REPORTER: If this is the first time, could you please elaborate further regarding the intention behind issuing this message?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The intention of the Prime Minister's message, which we announced, is as follows. As we observe National Foundation Day on February 11, the Prime Minister wishes to communicate to the public at large the purpose of the public holiday, which is to recall the founding of the nation and cultivate a mindset of love of the nation, and he would like to celebrate and share this with the Japanese people. Public holidays are days that the Japanese population as a whole celebrate, appreciate, and commemorate to build a better society and make our lives more prosperous, while also cultivating beautiful customs. We also believe that the Government should promote this, and the issuing of the message is part of this. Furthermore, with regard to messages issued on public holidays to date, each year the Prime Minister has issued messages on Marine Day. In addition, as another piece of background information, celebratory messages for National Foundation Day used to be expressed in celebratory addresses delivered at private sector ceremonies until 2004. That is all.      

REPORTER: The Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand issued a statement saying that the entry of a Japanese research whaling vessel into New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was a deeply disrespectful action. The Minister also conveyed to the Japanese Embassy in Wellington that he was disappointed. I understand that this is because the vessel entered New Zealand's EEZ despite the fact that New Zealand had expressed to Japan beforehand that it would not welcome the entry of Japanese whalers. What are the views of the Japanese government regarding the actions of this research vessel and the reaction of the Government of New Zealand?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Japan's whale research programs are conducted according to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and are legal. Nevertheless, Japanese research vessels have been a target of persistent acts of sabotage taken by the anti-whaling group, Sea Shepherd. These actions of Sea Shepherd are dangerous and illegal, and threaten the lives and property of the crew members of the research vessels, as well as the safe navigation of the vessels. As such, they cannot be tolerated. In this context, the patrol vessels of the Fisheries Agency take the necessary safety measures for protecting the research vessels, and as part of these measures, they entered New Zealand's EEZ. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, all countries are assured freedom of navigation in other countries' EEZs. The Japanese Government considers that the navigation of the Japanese patrol vessel in the latest case also does not pose any problems under international law. The patrol vessel in question takes the necessary safety measures for protecting research vessels, and entered New Zealand's EEZ as part of these measures. At the same time, from the standpoint of the safety of the research vessel fleet, I would like to refrain from going into the specifics of the navigation and activities of individual vessels. We understand that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand made this criticism on the basis of these legal premises.     

REPORTER: The Government of Singapore made a formal announcement that it would be holding a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ministerial meeting from the 22nd of this month. What kind of a stance will the Japanese Government take in engaging in the negotiations? Also, what do you think about the prospects of an agreement being reached at these upcoming negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have not yet been informed of the exact date. However, I have been informed that these ministerial talks will likely take place. In any case, the TPP negotiations have largely proceeded in phases to date, and I believe that in the phase we are now entering, negotiations will be conducted with a view to reaching a conclusion.  

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