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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, May 19, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

Today from 8:45 am, the 39th meeting of the Information Security Policy Council was held. Based on the recent deepening risks surrounding cyberspace, the council discussed methods of strengthening the functions of Japan’s cyber security promotion structures. A decision was reached concerning the strengthening of Japan’s information security countermeasures, among other matters, at Government organizations and for important infrastructure. Later today the National Information Security Center will provide a press briefing concerning the details of the outcomes of this morning’s meeting and so forth. Please direct your questions to them.


  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations
  • The deployment of the new units to counter armed attacks
  • The issue concerning serialized comic features a story set in Fukushima
  • The consultation among the ruling parties regarding the right of collective self-defense
  • The result of the general election in India

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The ministerial meeting is scheduled to resume today in Singapore for the first time in three months. Could you tell us of your expectations towards an early breakthrough in the overall negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From today the TPP ministerial meeting will be held in Singapore over a period of two days. Although I hear that among the three countries there are still the same differences remaining as from before, the Government will seek to harness the outcomes of the recent Japan-United States summit meeting. Furthermore, Japan and the United States will play a leading role in accelerating negotiations with the other countries participating in the TPP negotiation process. The Government of Japan will make every effort to ensure that the negotiations are concluded as soon as possible, while continuing to maintain Japan’s national interests.

REPORTER: The TPP negotiations are now in their final stages, including the consultations between Japan and the United States. By when is the Government aiming to achieve an agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government of Japan does not intend to engage in discussions with any specific deadline in mind. Therefore I would like to refrain from making any speculative comments about the timing of an agreement. Whatever the case, the Government will engage in negotiations from the priority perspective of ensuring Japan’s national interests. Under the leadership of Minister Amari we will make every effort to achieve an early conclusion to the negotiations.

REPORTER: According to some reports in the press, Japan will deploy new units to counter armed attacks on various islands, such as Amami, Miyako and Ishigaki. Firstly, what are the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, in the recently announced new National Defense Program Guidelines and new Medium Term Defense Program, it is stated that the defense posture in the remote islands of the southwestern region will be enhanced and strengthened where the SDF is not currently stationed. With regard to the location for deployment of such units, the Ministry of Defense commissioned investigation that have now been completed, and which focus on inhabited islands in Okinawa Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture. I am aware that based on the results of these investigations further investigations and other initiatives are scheduled to be implemented. However, at the current point in time there is no factual basis for the press reports that suggest that specific locations and islands have been decided.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding Ishigaki City, which was mentioned in the recent press reports. In February this year the Government issued a protest to the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association concerning reports by the Ryukyu Shimpo about the deployment of units to Ishigaki City. Does the Government intend to lodge a protest with said Association on this occasion as well, or take some other kind of response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think that this recent case and the previous one that you mentioned are completely different. In the previous case the report was issued directly prior to elections and it reported that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) were going to be stationed on a football field, or some similar location, where absolutely no investigations had been implemented. That report was unprofessional in the extreme, which was the reason for the protest at the time.

REPORTER: So with regard to the deployment of units to Ishigaki specifically, are you saying that you are not categorically denying the press reports that possibility of the deployment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, what I am saying is that in the new National Defense Program Guidelines and new Medium Term Defense Program it has been decided that the defense posture in the remote islands of the southwestern region will be enhanced and strengthened. Based on that decision, investigations are being implemented. That is the stage we are at this moment.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. Listening to your explanation I get the impression that the Government’s protest in February was a little excessive. What are your views on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I don’t think that such an observation is valid as the report in question referred to specific locations for deployment. It was a report that suggested that the SDF were to be deployed on a football field in the middle of a residential area, something that is absolutely unthinkable.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the serialized comic Oishinbo. Following on from the previous edition, the latest edition of the series features a story set in Fukushima, and depicts characters talking about their wish for the people of Fukushima to have the courage to escape from the dangerous location, and other such scenes. What are your thoughts on this recent edition?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as a representative of the Government, I do not think that I should comment on the remarks of a fictional character, who is not a public figure, nor on the views of a private person about other people. Whatever the case, I consider it to be of the utmost importance for the Government to continue to convey correct knowledge and information that is based on scientific data in an easily understandable manner. Minister Nemoto is chairing a task force on measures to address harmful rumors, which will examine the measures being taken by ministries and agencies on this issue. The Government will continue to make every effort to address ungrounded rumors.


REPORTER: Yesterday Secretary General Ishiba of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) commented on the relationship between New Komeito and Soka Gakkai in relation to approving the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. What are the views of the Government concerning the autonomy of New Komeito?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As Prime Minister Abe noted in his press conference the other day, there are currently more than 1.5 million Japanese nationals who live overseas. In addition, 18 million Japanese nationals embark on overseas travel each year, which demonstrates the tremendous progress of internationalization. At the same time, the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe. Against such a backdrop the Government therefore has a vital role to play in the protection of the lives and property of the people of Japan and ensuring national security. Following the receipt of the report of the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security the Prime Minister made clear the Government’s views on security matters. Consultations among the ruling parties are about to begin based on these views. The Government therefore wishes to leave these discussions to the ruling parties.

REPORTER: Going back to the origins of the issue, could you tell us your views about the comment that was issued by Soka Gakkai at the weekend?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As a representative of the Government, that is something I would like to refrain from commenting on.

REPORTER: On a related note, do you think that the comment itself issued by Soka Gakkai will have any influence on the upcoming consultations among the ruling parties or on the Cabinet decision that will be taken by the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that will be the case. Whatever the case, as I have just stated, internationalization is progressing and New Komeito also has not expressed the view that we can adequately protect the lives and property of the people and ensure national security under existing conditions. In that sense I believe that through serious discussions among the ruling parties we will be able to find common points on which we agree.

REPORTER: I have a point of confirmation. Soka Gakkai is a religious corporation and until now it has never issued any comments about specific political issues. Given that it made a comment with regard to this issue, if this comment were to impact the ruling party consultations or the position of the Government in some way, there is a possibility that it would come into conflict with the principle of the separation of the Government and religion. What are your views on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I mentioned previously, through thorough consultations among the ruling parties concerning how the Government will be able to protect the lives and property of the people and ensure national security, I believe that as a result we would be able to gain understanding for the Government’s position.


REPORTER: Following the recent general election in India, it has been announced that Mr. Narendra Modi is to be appointed as Prime Minister. Can I ask for your reaction to this result? Also what impact do you think the election result will have on the security environment in Asia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Modi on his appointment as Prime Minister of India. Mr. Modi has particularly strong and deep ties with Japan and I expect that relations between Japan and India will further deepen in a broad range of areas, including politics and the economy.

REPORTER: There are some press reports suggesting that the Government is currently making arrangements with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of India to make Mr. Modi’s first overseas visit as Prime Minister to be Japan. What are the facts behind these reports and what is the status of the arrangements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the facts behind these reports, I am not aware of any such details. However, I understand that Mr. Modi is a strong Japanophile and will be a Prime Minister with a good understanding of Japan.

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