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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, September 11, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From 11:20 am today, the first meeting of the Robot Revolution Realization Council, a council of distinguished experts under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister, will be held with the Prime Minister in attendance. This Council was established to explore the path to achieving “a new Industrial Revolution driven by robots” as set out in the Japan Revitalization Strategy Revised in 2014. Robots could become a major trump card of the growth strategy for resolving societal challenges facing a range of sectors, including the manufacturing, service, agriculture, and disaster management sectors. With today’s discussion serving as the starting point, we plan to establish a five-year plan by the end of the year, which will include specific measures for technology development, deregulation, and standardization, among other items. For more information, I ask that you please direct your questions to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.    


  • The issue of photographs taken of Ministers and leader of a right-wing organization
  • The reinvestigation on the issue of Japanese abductees
  • The meeting between former PM Mori and Russian President Putin
  • U.S. policy of expanding the airstrike against Islamic State
  • The recommendation concerning tax reform by Keidanren


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding a matter which also came up yesterday, and that is about the photographs taken of Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Takaichi and Chairwoman Inada of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), with a leader of a right-wing organization. Both officials commented that they are not acquaintances of this individual and were not aware of his views. As there seems to be some misunderstanding in the reports of the foreign media, could I please ask you to once again explain your opinion?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as I stated yesterday, we checked whether or not the reports were true. As the Minister and Chairwoman of the Policy Research Council have respectively stated, after giving interviews at the Diet Members’ Office Building, photographs were taken with this individual who accompanied the interviewer. Of course no discussion took place between them, not even casual conversation. The two had no idea that the individual had such a background.

REPORTER: So the two of them will not be taking any responsibility in particular over this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Absolutely not. After all, the individual himself was the one who accompanied the interviewer and asked to be photographed with them following the interview, and that is how the photographs were taken. So my answer is no.

REPORTER: Regarding North Korea, in an interview with Kyodo News, Ambassador Song Il-ho of North Korea made the following comment with regard to the reinvestigation on the issue of Japanese abductees: “We have plenty of information to provide to Japan even at this current stage. However, there has been no formal request for the release from Japan through diplomatic channels.” The Japanese Government has not requested the report?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I have no knowledge at all as to whether or not the news reports are true. Japan and North Korea are communicating with each other regarding the next steps, with the embassy in Beijing as an intermediary. In any case, North Korea’s Special Investigation Committee has started the investigation. Above all, the Government of Japan strongly urges that North Korea conduct an investigation in good faith and provide the full truth in an honest and sincere manner.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In the same interview, Ambassador Song stated with respect to the first investigation report that, “the most convenient and simple method is for Japanese officials to visit North Korea and get a firsthand briefing from the members of the Investigation Committee.” Is there a possibility that Japanese officials will visit North Korea to receive the first report on the reinvestigation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, as I stated moments ago, the Government of Japan strongly wishes that North Korea conduct the investigation in good faith and provide the full truth. We will be strongly asserting this in the course of our communications through the diplomatic channel.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning this matter. Ambassador Song’s comments can be interpreted as suggesting that North Korea is seeking the additional lifting of sanctions. What is your view regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated, the Government has no knowledge at all regarding the truth of the reports. We are currently in communication with North Korea through the intermediary of the embassy in Beijing.

REPORTER: A related question. You have been stating rather confidently that the report of the Investigation Committee would be submitted between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. It feels as if summer has now ended. Frankly speaking, is it correct to assume that the report will be submitted later than the timeframe the Government had initially anticipated?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated initially, the expectation was that it would be submitted in the timeframe between the end of the summer and early autumn. We are currently in communication with North Korea through the intermediary of the embassy in Beijing. That is the situation.

REPORTER: A question on this issue. I gather that if it’s the week after next, diplomatic authorities, including the Prime Minister, will be busy with the United Nations General Assembly and other events. Is it correct to expect that such scheduling matters will affect the timing of the report’s submission? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: North Korea was vague from the start, explaining that it would submit the results of its sincere investigation sometime between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. Therefore, I expect that the report will be submitted during this timeframe.

REPORTER: Late last evening, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting. Have you been briefed about it? Also, can you please share any information regarding the content of the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as I stated yesterday, former Prime Minister Mori, who was visiting Moscow to attend the Japan-Russia Forum, held talks with President Putin shortly after 11 pm on September 10, local time. I understand that the meeting was held based on the longstanding friendship between former Prime Minister Mori and President Putin. I’ve been informed that during the meeting, President Putin conveyed to former Prime Minister Mori that he would continue to, and must continue to, hold dialogues with Japan. In any case, the Japanese Government will continue to work to deepen Japan-Russia relations in a way that serves Japan’s national interests.

REPORTER: As you just noted, I understand President Putin said relations with Japan must be maintained. The two countries had agreed on the President’s visit to Japan in autumn. Did former Prime Minister Mori and President Putin discuss the visit? Will their meeting have any impact on the President’s visit to Japan in autumn?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Prime Minister Abe was the one who originally said to President Putin that the two sides needed to continue to hold steady dialogues. Such are the circumstances, and nothing has been decided with regard to the itinerary of President Putin’s visit to Japan as of this moment in time. In any case, this matter will be considered based on a comprehensive assessment of various factors.  

REPORTER: I believe a letter from Prime Minister Abe was handed over to President Putin during the meeting. Can you tell us what the letter stated?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from disclosing its contents.

REPORTER: My question is in relation to President Putin’s visit to Japan. You stated that nothing has been decided. However, although I imagine that arrangements were initially made for autumn, are the two sides making arrangements to realize a visit possibly in the winter, spring, or later based on the circumstances surrounding the Ukraine issue and other such factors?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated earlier, nothing has been decided. We will be considering the matter based on a comprehensive assessment of various factors.

REPORTER: A short while ago, President Obama of the United States presented his policy of expanding the U.S. airstrike campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to Syria. What is the Japanese Government’s reaction and responses?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: President Obama delivered an address to the American people. In his address, President Obama explained the United States’ broad policy on ISIL covering diplomacy, military affairs, and humanitarian assistance. The United States has resolutely condemned terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations, including attacks of so-called militants, and will be providing assistance to the Iraqi Government and others in the fight against terrorism. Japan will further coordinate with the international community to address the situation.

REPORTER: A related question. Would it be correct to understand that the Japanese Government supports the latest U.S. policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan has always supported the fight against terrorism with the international community, including the United States. So yes, we of course support it.

REPORTER: Yesterday, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) released recommendations concerning tax reform. Keidanren said it would like the effective corporate tax rate lowered by more than 1% in FY2015, lowered to the 20% range by three years later, and ultimately to 25%. Can you please comment on the recommendations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that Keidanren made such requests. However, the Government has already announced that the corporation tax would be lowered from next year and reduced to the 20% range over several years. The Government’s Tax Commission and the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System will be working out the details in the coming months.  

REPORTER: Another question. Keidanren would like the Government to go forward with the consumption tax increase to 10% in October of next year. Do you have any comments in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding this matter, as the Prime Minister stated repeatedly, while the economy contracted in the April-June quarter following the consumption tax increase since April 1, he would make the final decision based on the July-September situation, that is, to what extent the economy recovers during the July-September quarter. In any case, the Prime Minister will be making a decision in this context – the situation is exactly the same as before.

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