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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, May 23, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved seven general and other measures as well as cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, I made a statement regarding a visit to Brazil, Columbia and France by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries made a statement concerning the FY2013 White Paper on Fisheries.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement about errors contained in handouts explaining a bill submitted by the ministry.


  • The situation in Thailand
  • The North-Korea’s rhetoric to ROK
  • The Japan-North Korea consultation


REPORTER: I have a question about the situation in Thailand. What is the Government’s view regarding yesterday’s news of a military coup in the country. In addition, anxiety is spreading through the Japanese community in Thailand. Can you tell us about how the Government will respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, it is deeply regrettable that the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council headed by Army Commander in Chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has assumed the full power of the government in Thailand on May 22. Japan strongly urges those concerned that democracy in Thailand be quickly restored. While the Government of Japan has so far not received reports of casualties among Japanese people in Thailand, it will continue to pay the closest attention to their safety, by providing them with sufficient information and timely alerts. Last night, the Prime Minister’s Office made arrangements to allow it to hold discussions on responses as necessary with related ministries and agencies, led by the National Security Bureau and Cabinet Secretariat’s Situation Room, in order to gather accurate information on local conditions and ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in Thailand. Additionally, on the night of May 22 a liaison office led by Director-General Ishikawa of the Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department was set up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and an emergency response headquarters was established at the Embassy of Japan in Thailand on May 20. The Government will take every measure possible to ensure the protection of Japanese nationals locally.

REPORTER: Thailand’s future political framework will now be decided by the military. What are your thoughts about the political situation in Thailand, where a number of coups have taken place?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, we will need to analyze the situation locally as the announcement was made just yesterday. In any case, the Government’s basic policy is that it is extremely regrettable and Japan strongly urges those concerned that democracy in Thailand be quickly restored. The Government will also exert its best efforts and take the necessary measures to protect Japanese nationals in the country.

REPORTER: Yesterday, North Korea shot two artillery shells near a navy vessel belonging to the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the ROK navy vessel returned fire with five shots. Can you first give us the Government’s appraisal and analysis of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Following this situation, the Government has been collecting information while working closely with related ministries and agencies. We will continue to communicate with related countries and make every effort to analyze information. In any case, we will work very closely with the United States and the ROK, among other countries, and also urge North Korea to refrain from any actions that heighten tension in the region. We will continue to make every effort in this regard.

REPORTER: North Korea’s rhetoric toward the ROK has been growing more intense. Is there any impact will this have on the Japan-North Korea consultations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I just said, the Government will urge North Korea to refrain from acts that may heighten tension with the United States and the ROK. Again, we will take all necessary measures. In any case, the Japan-North Korea consultations will be carried out on this occasion to encourage North Korea to take concrete actions towards the resolution of various issues. Nevertheless, the Government will take all opportunities to urge North Korea to not heighten tensions in the region.


REPORTER: With regard to the Japan-North Korea consultations, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue Furuya made a statement yesterday that if the North Korean side took a positive approach then Japan would consider the possibility of lifting its own sanctions on the country in phases. Does “positive approach” refer to the start of a reinvestigation into the abduction issue? Or does this refer to the situation after the actual investigation has made progress? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from answering individual and specific matters about what Minister Furuya said. The Government’s stance is that it will exert its best efforts toward three areas: ensuring the safety and the immediate return to Japan of all the abductees, obtaining a full account concerning the abductions, and realizing the handover of the perpetrators of the abductions. The Government will also take every opportunity possible to urge the North Korean side to take specific actions toward a resolution of the abduction issue. I have continued to reiterate that the Government will take the most effective response in order to encourage North Korea to take concrete actions toward resolving the various issues, and this stance remains unchanged.



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