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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, December 18, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The relations between the United States and Cuba
  • The issue regarding the right of collective self-defense
  • The cyber attack against a film company
  • The issue regarding the verification experiments on the STAP phenomenon

REPORTER: The United States has announced that for the first time in 53 years, negotiations with Cuba would be resumed to normalize diplomatic relations. I understand that Vice President Biden explained this to Prime Minister Abe, and that Prime Minister Abe commented that he welcomes the development. Can you please once again explain the views of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government welcomes U.S. moves to further stabilize the region by improving relations with a neighboring country. This marks a significant shift from the U.S. policy to date and the Government will monitor the developments. 

REPORTER: According to some of this morning’s media reports, the Government has decided on a policy of restricting the exercise of the right of collective self-defense to the areas surrounding Japan. The reports state that the exercise of the right of collective self-defense would exclude minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz, which the Prime Minister had been keen to conduct. The reports also state that should this operation become necessary in the future, a new legislation would be considered. First of all, is this true?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the media reports. However, we are still working persistently to develop security legislation that we can submit to the next ordinary Diet session based on adequate reviews and in consultation with the ruling parties. With regard to your exact question, we are currently studying what kind of legislation should be developed in relation to minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz. We consider it critically important that we develop security legislation that enables seamless responses under any circumstances. The idea of enacting a Special Measures Act when the need arises in the future is not something that we are thinking about. 

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Prime Minister stated before that it was possible for Japan to participate in minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz in a scenario where there is no war but a complete ceasefire agreement has not been concluded. Is it the view of the Government that if there is a de facto ceasefire, Japan is permitted to participate in minesweeping?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, this matter will be examined in terms of whether it satisfies the three new conditions.

REPORTER: My question regards a different matter; it is about the film concerning North Korea. Following the cyber attacks against a film company of the Sony Group that produced the U.S. film that deals with First Secretary Kim Jong-un, the company took an unprecedented measure of cancelling the release of this film. Can you please share your comments? That is my first question. My other question is, from what I understand based on the media reports, the United States has deemed that North Korea was involved in the hacking and is currently discussing how it should respond. If this matter turns into an international issue, will there be any impact on Japan-North Korea relations? Can you please share your opinion?      

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I am aware of the media reports you have referred to. As the reported hacking attack and relevant matters are currently under U.S. investigations, the Government would like to refrain from making comments at this stage. I cannot see this matter having any direct impact on the Japan-North Korea talks. In any case, there is absolutely no change to Japan’s policy of working towards the comprehensive resolution of the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues, all the while working closely with the relevant countries, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration based on the principles of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action.” 

REPORTER: My question is related to the previous question. Time will tell whether North Korean authorities were involved in the hacking. But in any event, these cyber attacks, although lodged against a subsidiary company of Sony, led to the leaks of even the e-mails of Sony’s CEO. Sony is a major Japanese company. Can we perceive the attacks as attacks against a Japanese company? How does the Japanese Government view this incident?    

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the investigations are currently ongoing in the United States, the Government is not presently aware of the specifics and would like to refrain from commenting. We will be watching over the investigations.

REPORTER: The U.S. Department of Defense announced today that it selected Japan as one of the maintenance sites for the F-35 fighter. This has been made possible as a result of the Government’s adoption of a cabinet decision in April regarding the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology. Can you explain the significance of Japan’s selection as a maintenance site and your thoughts regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We deem that this decision is highly significant in light of securing Japan’s F-35 operation support capabilities, maintaining the domestic bases of the defense industry, and strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Japan welcomes this decision.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding Okinawa. I understand that Governor Onaga of Okinawa Prefecture is arranging a visit to Tokyo on the 22nd and wishes to hold a meeting with the Prime Minister. Have you received a request for a meeting? And if you did receive a request, do you stand ready to hold a meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As of now, I have not been informed of any such requests.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the Prime Minister’s itinerary related to an overseas visit. I gather that the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting (Davos Meeting) next January provides a good opportunity for the Prime Minister to promote Abenomics, on which he sought a public mandate in the recent House of Representatives elections. As of now, have arrangements been made for the Prime Minister to attend the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you all are aware, the Diet schedule is very tight. The budget will also be passed next year. As such these are quite challenging circumstances.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the modality of tomorrow’s RIKEN press conference regarding the results of its stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cell verification experiments. Vast sums of tax money have been injected into the research. We have lost a valuable RIKEN member. This ordeal has furthermore damaged the honor of Japan’s science community. In the sense of bringing this matter to a close, it is above all essential that Ms. Obokata herself attends the press conference. When we consider the life that lies ahead for Ms. Obokata and the long-term perspective, I think it is not necessarily a bad thing to bring this matter to an end for the time being. What are your views regarding this?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that tomorrow, RIKEN will be holding a press conference and will release the results of its verification experiments on the STAP phenomenon. RIKEN should give a thorough explanation to the people with regard to this matter. In any case, it is up to RIKEN to decide whether Ms. Obokata should attend. I do think, however, that RIKEN should provide a thorough explanation.

REPORTER: If I may confirm a point in regard to the Prime Minister’s attendance of the Davos Meeting. Does the Prime Minister want to attend the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I expect that a decision will be made based on various circumstances, including the budget formulation process and the Diet’s schedule. However, I believe these are quite challenging circumstances. Nothing is decided at this point in time.


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