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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, October 24, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Japan-China relations
  • The issue of comfort women
  • The issue regarding Ebola virus disease
  • The issue regarding the bill to legalize casinos

REPORTER: I understand that former Prime Minister Fukuda will be holding talks with President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing on the 29th. Is the Government aware of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware that from the 28th, former Prime Minister Fukuda will be visiting China as Chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia for Forum-related affairs. However, the Government is not aware of former Prime Minister Fukuda’s detailed itinerary during his stay in Beijing.

REPORTER: If former Prime Minister Fukuda and President Xi Jinping were indeed to hold talks, would the Government have any expectations for the talks, in terms of facilitating the realization of a Japan-China summit meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, the Government has no knowledge at all of the detailed itinerary of former Prime Minister Fukuda. That is all.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Kono Statement. During the meeting of the Committee on Cabinet of the House of Councillors on the 21st, you said the comment made by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono during a press conference held at the time the Kono Statement was released was a major issue. If it is a major issue, I would think it cannot be neglected. How do you intend to deal with this issue?    

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The study of the drafting process of the Kono Statement revealed that its language was compared and coordinated between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to the greatest extent possible in order to build a 21st century future-oriented bilateral relationship. Furthermore, no documents were found indicating that the women were forcefully taken away. The Prime Minister issued a written answer in response to a letter of questions by a Diet member to this effect, which was approved as a Cabinet decision during the first Abe Cabinet. The Kono Statement was released under such circumstances. During the press conference at the time, when questioned about whether women had been forcefully taken away, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono stated that “we accept that to be the case.” Therefore, there is a discrepancy between the study findings and the comment made at the press conference. At the same time, The Asahi Shimbun’s articles on the testimony of Mr. Seiji Yoshida stated that women were forcefully taken away. I believe such factors, combined, contributed to media coverage that led to misunderstanding. Accordingly, the Government will be fully explaining the objective facts to the countries concerned for the sake of Japan’s honor.

REPORTER: I have a follow-up question. I have heard, for example, that the budget for the public relations activities to this end will be doubled next fiscal year. Even if the budget is increased and the Government carries out international public relations activities, however, such activities will be fruitless if they fail to address the root of the problem. For example, if the parties involved are summoned by the Diet, then this becomes a Diet matter. Will you for instance be inviting the former Chief Cabinet Secretary to sit down for talks, Chief Cabinet Secretary to Chief Cabinet Secretary? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, we have made the position of the Government clear. At the same time, I believe former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono has said that the situation was exactly as stated in the report of the study team. The former Chief Cabinet Secretary has acknowledged that no documents were found indicating that the women were forcefully taken away. What I meant was that Japan has been, and will be, making the facts fully known, especially in the places where the ROK is trying to build comfort women statues, such as the United States, as well as elsewhere where the ROK is carrying out its international campaign.  

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject to the Ebola virus disease outbreak. A patient tested positive for Ebola in New York for the first time. What is your take on the current situation of the spread of Ebola?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This question was also asked at the Diet today. First, in response to the recent Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, the Government has been taking measures in coordination with the relevant ministries and agencies, based on various domestic and overseas scenarios. Specifically, appropriate information is being provided to travelers leaving and entering Japan. Furthermore, training has already been provided on containing Ebola by quarantine and on how medical teams should handle this disease in the event that there is an outbreak in Japan. Also, we are monitoring the health of the people arriving from the three West African countries with the highest incidences of Ebola cases. In addition, as the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare announced today, through the coordinated efforts of the Quarantine Information Office and the Immigration Bureau, we are asking all people entering Japan to report if they have stayed in any countries where Ebola virus disease outbreaks are occurring. If travelers have stayed in these countries, then medical interviews and other steps will be taken. Through these measures, the Government has stepped up its response effort as needed. In any case, the international community is doing everything it can to eradicate the Ebola virus disease. The Government is committed to making contributions to the international response effort. At the same time, we will continue to make maximum efforts to prevent the outbreak of the disease in Japan.    

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the bill to legalize casinos. While the Government hopes to pass the bill in order to help revitalize regions, among other reasons, some members of the ruling parties are against passing this bill. Coupled with the schedule of the current Diet session, there are doubts as to whether the bill can be passed during this session of the Diet. How does the Government view the current situation?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This was a bill that was submitted to the Diet by Diet members. Therefore, the Government is closely following the discussions at the Diet caucuses and the Diet. As this is a Diet matter, I would like to refrain from making any comments as a representative of the Government. In any case, as was determined in the Japan Revitalization Strategy 2014 that was decided this June, the Government, in other words, the relevant ministries and agencies, are now studying this matter from a variety of perspectives.  


REPORTER: I would like to return to the first topic about former Prime Minister Fukuda’s visit to China. Recently, there seems to be a series of developments indicating the improvement of Japan-China relations, including Deputy Prime Minister Aso’s visit to China. Do you perceive that the conditions for a Japan-China summit meeting are emerging?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than looking at it like that, I would say that China and Japan are indeed the second and third largest economic powers in the world, making them mutually responsible for peace and prosperity not only in this region but also throughout the world. Therefore, it is important that the two leaders hold talks precisely because issues exist between our two countries, rather than not holding talks because of them.

REPORTER: I have one more related question. When former Prime Minister Fukuda visits China, will he hand a letter from Prime Minister Abe or a message of any kind to President Xi Jinping?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no truth to that.


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