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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary(Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issue related to the entry of a Japanese research whaling vessel into New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone

REPORTER: Today the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Rules and Administration of the House of Representatives, Mr. Ichiro Aisawa, commented that Prime Minister Abe is merely repeatedly stating that the door to dialogue is always open, basically implying that the Prime Minister should therefore take concrete action in this regard. What are your thoughts on this comment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Prime Minister has stated, our door is truly open for dialogue. Given that our door for diplomatic dialogue is always open, I do not believe it would be appropriate for me to comment on Mr. Aisawa's remarks regarding how we conduct our foreign policy.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister of New Zealand stated that he will wait and see whether Japan will apologize for the incident in which a whaling patrol vessel of the Fisheries Agency temporarily entered the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of New Zealand. (Abridged) I believe it is unusual for the leader of other country to demand an apology.  Can I ask how the Government intends to respond to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan's whale research programs are conducted in accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and are legal. Japan's research whaling vessels have been  targets of persistent acts of sabotage by the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd. Japan's stance is that these are dangerous illegal acts that threaten the lives and property of the crew members of our country and the safe navigation of our ships, and 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. Furthermore, under international law, all countries are assured freedom of navigation in other countries' EEZs. Therefore, in the first place, the actual passage of Japanese patrol vessels through the EEZ on this occasion was not an action that presented any problems in terms of international law. If the Prime Minister of New Zealand did make such a statement about this, the Government will fully emphasize our stance through diplomatic channels.

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