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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

・The relation between Japan and Russia
・The report of the Special Investigation Committee in North Korea
・The feature articles regarding examination of the issue of comfort women published by Asahi Shimbun
・The passing of Deputy Director of RIKEN

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question with regard to Russia. Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia announced that it has decided to postpone the Japan-Russia deputy minister-level consultations scheduled for the end of this month. As for the reason, Russia explained that it was because the Government of Japan decided to take additional sanction measures. Is this true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Japan and Russia have been in the process of making arrangements for holding Japan-Russia deputy minister-level consultations in late August between Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Sugiyama and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morgulov. Russia notified that it was postponing the consultations, with the reason being that Japan announced additional measures on July 28. Japan regrets extremely that Russia unilaterally cancelled this opportunity for dialogue.

REPORTER: I have a related question. While I realize that the exact date of President Putin’s visit to Japan is still undecided, what effect do you think the postponement will have on this visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, nothing has been decided as of now. In any case, I expect that this matter will be examined from a comprehensive perspective, taking into consideration a variety of aspects.

REPORTER: According to some news reports, North Korea’s Special Investigation Committee will be presenting its first report as early as the second week of September. This is expected to include information about Japanese abductees and others. Do you know if this is true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware of such reports. However, what North Korea said during the Japan-North Korea inter-governmental consultations was that the Special Investigation Committee would submit its first report between the end of this summer and early autumn. As nothing has been decided at this time, Japan is carefully monitoring the status of North Korea’s investigation.  

REPORTER: Asahi Shimbun published feature articles examining past coverage of the issue of comfort women. In light of this, a short while ago Secretary-General Ishiba of the Liberal Democratic Party mentioned the possibility of taking some form of response at the Diet level. Can you please share your comments? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government has just recently released the results of an objective study on the drafting process of the Kono Statement. In addition, the position of the Japanese Government regarding the comfort women issue is as I have repeatedly stated to date. We will continue to provide appropriate explanations. In any case, the Japanese Government strongly desires the establishment of a correct understanding of history based on objective facts. With regard to the statement made by Secretary-General Ishiba, in my view Diet affairs should be decided at the Diet.

REPORTER: I would like to go back to the topic of abductees. I presume that North Korea’s report has not yet been finalized. However, are you saying that the Japanese and North Korean Governments will be conferring beforehand about when the report should be released in view of their respective domestic situations and other factors?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of such matters. As I stated earlier, we have been informed that the report will be made between the end of this summer and early autumn. That is all.

REPORTER: I would like to ask one question in relation to the earlier subject of the Asahi Shimbun articles examining past coverage of the comfort women issue. I believe yesterday’s articles were written based on Asahi Shimbun’s examination of past coverage of the issue; an examination that was conducted at its own responsibility. In more general terms, I think there is a concern that if the Diet were to conduct further studies of past coverage of the issue, the media may end up being stifled. Can you please share your opinion, even in general terms?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Since this matter has to do with the Diet, my opinion is that Diet affairs should indeed be determined at the Diet. I believe the Government should refrain from making comments about each and every individual matter.

REPORTER: Following the death of Deputy Director Yoshiki Sasai of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB), questions have been raised about the responsibility of RIKEN in this matter. Previously the Reform Committee recommended the dissolution of RIKEN. Can you once again explain how you envisage the Government will be working with RIKEN?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to start by saying that the passing of Dr. Sasai, who has played a central role in supporting CDB, is extremely regrettable, and I would like to express my sincere condolences. I understand that RIKEN is currently making efforts to scientifically verify the STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency) phenomenon and conducting other scientific investigations. Additionally, as you just stated, I understand that in light of the recommendations made by the Committee of outside experts, RIKEN is developing an action plan to prevent further instances of research misconduct, including the reform of CDB. In any case, regarding the series of events concerning STAP cells, my understanding is that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is providing appropriate guidance to RIKEN to ensure that effective measures are being taken to prevent future occurrences of research misconduct.  



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