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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, March 11, marks the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. I would like to once again sincerely offer my heartfelt prayers for the repose of those who lost their lives. I would also like to express my sympathies to the families of the victims and those who are still living in temporary housing. This afternoon from 2:30 pm onwards, the Ceremony to Commemorate the Third Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake will be hosted by the Government at the National Theatre of Japan in the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and with the attendance of representatives of all sectors of society.

I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet Meeting. The meeting approved seven general measures as well as draft bills, cabinet orders and personnel decisions.

In ministerial discussions, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and I each made statements concerning the International Symposium for Creating a Society in which Women Shine (tentative name).

I would like to speak about the personnel decisions approved at today’s Cabinet Meeting, including the appointment of the President of the National Personnel Authority. As the term of the current President of the National Personnel Authority Tsuneo Hara ends on April 11, we decided to appoint Commissioner Nahomi Ichimiya as the next President. We also decided to appoint Mr. Hiroshi Tachibana as the replacement Commissioner. New President Nahomi Ichimiya will be the first woman to assume the position since the launch of the National Personnel Authority following World War II. Under the leadership of President Ichimiya, I hope that the National Personnel Authority will actively pursue the Government's policy of encouraging many capable women to play a larger role in the public sector.

I would now like to speak on the International Symposium on Creating a Society in which Women Shine (tentative name). Encouraging greater social participation by women is a global challenge. The Abe Government also positions the goal of creating a society in which all women can play an active role as a core policy in its growth strategy. In light of this, the Government will host the International Symposium on  Creating a Society in which Women Shine (tentative name) sometime between summer and autumn this year. It is our hope to invite women who play important roles both domestically and internationally to participate in this symposium and ask them to hold discussions on topics such as the economic benefit delivered by women in the work force, diverse lifestyles and social development. The Government has decided to form a preparatory team headed by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato to bring the whole Government together to advance preparations for the event. Please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more details.


  • The issues related to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident
  • The issues related to the Kono Statement
  • The issues related to the STAP cell research led by RIKEN

REPORTER: It has been three years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident. Did Prime Minister Abe mention anything about the earthquake at the Cabinet Meeting or in ministerial discussions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister always strongly calls on all ministers to address the matter of reconstruction as if each and every one of them were ministers for reconstruction themselves. Based on this understanding, all ministers will make great efforts to accelerate the post-disaster reconstruction process by taking a hands-on approach and strengthening the Government’s function as a control tower, among other measures.

REPORTER: In relation to reconstruction, the Prime Minister took a positive attitude toward the revision of the coastal levee construction plan during yesterday’s House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting. However, Governor Murai of Miyagi Prefecture, the Prefecture in which the coastal levee will be constructed, is being  cautious, as he thinks the changes to the plan may cause significant confusion. This issue could split opinion among local residents. Could you share with us the Government's thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that will likely be the case. First of all, we set out a fixed time frame for the reconstruction project and we have worked to our predetermined schedule. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that when executing the budget, it is extremely important for us to appropriately revise and improve the plan in a flexible manner as necessary based on a variety of factors, including situational changes and technological progress that have occurred to date. It is also crucial for us to be flexible in our budget execution. It seems only natural to me that local residents would hold a variety of opinions regarding the strengthening of disaster preparedness, the environment and the landscape. As such, we will thoroughly address the issue while incorporating the various opinions of local residents.


REPORTER: In relation to the comfort women issue, I understand that yesterday you essentially said that the Government will succeed the Kono Statement and not make any revision. In response to your comments, a U.S. Department of State official said that the U.S. considers this to be a positive step. Could you share your thoughts with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would not call this a positive “step” as such because this is something I have said many times on a number of occasions  including press conferences. I have frequently said that the Abe Cabinet succeeds the Kono Statement. The Japanese Government will continue to thoroughly explain this to the nations concerned.

REPORTER: It is my understanding that Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Saiki will visit the Republic of Korea (ROK). During his visit, will the Vice Minister also provide an explanation of the Government's decision to ascertain the background of the compilation of the Kono Statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Saiki will visit the ROK from March 12 to 13. He will exchange views with a number of officials, including 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yong, on such topics as Japan-ROK relations and North Korean affairs. In any case, as we have continuously said, because Japan and the ROK are neighbors, a number of issues exist between our two countries. Nevertheless it is extremely important that we exchange views in a frank manner and from a broad perspective. In that sense, it is my opinion that it is crucial for us to maintain communication with the ROK at various levels.

REPORTER: In relation to the STAP cell research led by RIKEN, one of the research collaborators yesterday expressed the view that the paper should be withdrawn. I imagine that this is an issue that may affect the  credibility of Japan's scientific community. What is the Government's view of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will ask RIKEN to continue to thoroughly conduct an expert investigation of the matter in order to swiftly clarify the facts. In any case, after Riken proceeds with its current investigation, I believe the facts will become clear.


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