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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, July 18, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have an announcement regarding the Prime Minister’s itinerary. On July 23, the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Gunma Prefecture. Specifically, the Prime Minister will be given explanations from parties concerned regarding the preservation and utilization of Tomioka Silk Mill and regarding efforts for regional revitalization through the production of organic crops. For more information, please inquire with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.   


  • The incident involving the Malaysian airliner
  • The situation in Ukraine

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the incident involving the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine. As of this morning, you stated that the Government was trying to determine whether there were Japanese citizens on board. Could you please share with us the latest information since then if you have any?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Malaysia Airlines announced that it has identified the nationality of 257 of the 298 passengers and crew onboard the aircraft. Japanese nationals were not among them. The nationality of the remaining 41 individuals is still being determined. Furthermore, the list of passengers that the Embassy of Japan in the Netherlands obtained did not contain any names that suggest Japanese nationals were onboard. However, as the nationality is not specified in this list, we have yet to arrive at a final conclusion. This is where we currently stand.

REPORTER: There is a growing view among the international community that this incident was not an accident and that the aircraft was shot down. Does the Japanese Government share this view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are currently collecting and analyzing relevant information. In any case, the causes of the incident certainly need to be identified. In this regard, Japan deems that it is critically important that there is secure access to the site of the crash by the relevant parties. Japan is prepared to make diplomatic efforts so that the relevant parties can cooperate for that purpose.

REPORTER: You stated again just now, as well as during this morning’s press conference, that Japan attaches much importance to secure access to the site. Does this mean that Japan has been informed by parties at the site or by relevant countries that there exists some form of obstacle with regard to access?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is a possibility that a variety of physical evidence still remains at the site. Therefore, Japan deems that it is critically important that there is secure access to the site by all the relevant countries.


REPORTER: Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida was in Ukraine until shortly after the incident occurred. Was it inconceivable for Minister Kishida to opt to change his plans and stay there to collect information or take any other such actions? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Immediately after the incident, the Government instructed that all possible efforts be made to collect information, including determining whether there were Japanese citizens on board, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japanese embassy in abroad working collectively. Minister Kishida returned to Japan based on the determination that it was more appropriate that he return to Japan to spearhead Japan’s responses, including coordinating with the relevant countries and other such efforts.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister also left for his visit to one of the prefectures as scheduled. Do you consider that the Government has taken all possible measures as of this point in time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe there is nothing wrong with the Government’s responses. The members of the Government are all taking every possible measure according to their respective capacities, whether it is in determining whether there were Japanese citizens on board or working with relevant countries to identify the causes of the incident. I believe there is nothing wrong with the Government’s responses.

REPORTER: During this morning’s press conference, you stated that Japan would provide cooperation as much as possible. I imagine that this includes the diplomatic efforts you referred to earlier concerning access to the site. Are there any other responses that Japan anticipates taking? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What is important first and foremost is that information is fully collected and analyzed. In this respect, it is logical that Japan first strives to do what it can in its capacity for that purpose. In addition, we are working to determine whether any Japanese citizens were affected. This is being done through the respective embassies. Earlier I mentioned the Embassy of Japan in the Netherlands, but the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia, for example, is also involved. They are making utmost efforts in all aspects, including obtaining the list of passengers.

REPORTER: Veering slightly away from the topic of the aircraft, my question concerns the situation in Ukraine. The United States and the European Union (EU) are strengthening their economic sanctions against Russia. What are the Japanese Government’s intentions vis-à-vis its measures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I noted moments ago, with regard to the situation in Eastern Ukraine, Japan will respond appropriately while deepening our coordination with the G7, taking into account the responses of the United States and the EU.    

REPORTER: Meanwhile, I think Russia is seeking to strengthen its economic ties with Japan. What is your understanding of Japan’s position in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Amid the increasingly severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, there is no change to the importance of the Japan-Russia relationship. There is no change to Japan’s orientation to continue to advance the overall Japan-Russia relationship in a way that contributes to the national interests of Japan, all the while pursuing a series of dialogues with Russia.


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