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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 16, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The incident of terrorism occurred in Denmark
  • The Japan-ROK relations
  • The economic index
  • The issue of the Global Coalition to Counter the ISIL

REPORTER: Over the weekend, an act of terrorism occurred in Denmark. Danish nationals were killed and injured. Could you please share the thoughts of the Japanese Government? Also, what is the status of the counter-terrorism measures in Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, we are infuriated by such a despicable act of terrorism which attacked the freedom of expression and pluralistic values, and Japan resolutely condemns it. We would like to express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of Denmark. At the same time, we wish those injured will recover as soon as possible. Japan will continue to engage in the fight against terrorism in cooperation with the international community. Following this incident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately released information on travel to Denmark on its Overseas Safety HP. In addition, the Embassy of Japan in Denmark sent out an e-mail to Japanese nationals residing in Denmark. The Government is striving to advise Japanese citizens to stay alert and exercise caution. 


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject to relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Mr. Nikai, Chairman of the General Council of the Liberal Democratic Party, visited the ROK over the weekend and held talks with President Park Geun-hye. During the press conference that followed, Chairman Nikai expressed the view that the talks would serve as a springboard for realizing a bilateral summit meeting, and that the talks marked a step forward in this direction. Does the Government perceive that the two countries are gradually moving towards the realization of a summit meeting?      

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, a delegation led by Mr. Nikai paid a courtesy call on President Park Geun-hye. In addition, the delegation attended a working lunch with ROK parliamentarian members of the ROK-Japan Parliamentarians’ League as well as Japan-ROK cultural exchange events. I have been briefed that the delegation held a candid exchange of views with the ROK side. It is critically important that close communication is maintained at a variety of levels, including the parliamentarian level, precisely because difficult issues exist between our two countries. We hope that the delegation’s visit to the ROK will lead to progress in Japan-ROK relations. It is essential that both sides make efforts to forge future-oriented relations from a broad perspective.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I understand that during the talks, President Park Geun-hye made a request to Mr. Nikai that the Japanese Government exercise prudence in drafting the statement for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. With the rest of the world also paying close attention to the statement, what do you consider is the best way to draft the text?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of the details. As the Prime Minister has stated consistently, the 70th anniversary statement will communicate Japan’s remorse regarding WWII, the path Japan has taken in the 70 years following WWII, and Japan’s foreign policy in the years ahead. Moving forward, we will select the members of the advisory panel and release a statement which will be drafted while listening to the opinions of the members.

REPORTER: My question is in connection with the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. It has been reported that this spring, Prime Minister Abe will visit the United States and that Japan and the United States will release a joint statement on strengthening their alliance in view of the 70 years since WWII. Is this also being considered as part of the outreach efforts for the 70th anniversary of WWII?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no truth to the news reports. In any case, the specific itinerary is still being arranged between Japan and the United States. I do not know why such articles were published.

REPORTER: Preliminary estimates of the GDP growth rate were released. The GDP increased at an annualized rate of 2.2%, marking the first positive growth in three quarters. Can you please share your comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the latest quarterly estimates, the real GDP growth rate for the October-December 2014 quarter increased by 2.2% year-on-year, marking the first positive growth in three quarters. The reasons given for the positive real GDP growth rate in the October-December quarter include growth in personal consumption supported by improvements in the employment and income environments, and growth in exports to the United States and China. As for the future outlook, the Government expects that the employment and income environments will continue to improve and that this will lend further momentum to the development of virtuous cycles. We also anticipate improvements in terms of trade due to decreasing oil prices, among other factors, and in this context, we expect an economic recovery supported by robust private demand. Going forward, we will swiftly implement the Immediate Economic Measures for Extending Virtuous Cycles to Local Economies, which was decided at the end of last year and for which the FY2014 supplementary budget has been passed. Furthermore, we will make every effort to promptly pass the FY2015 draft budget. At the same time, the Government-Labor-Management Meeting has reached an agreement to work towards wage increases and to ensure that considerations are paid to subcontracting companies, which are also important. We consider it vital that these measures are steadily translated into action in accordance with the agreement.    


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Global Coalition to Counter the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL). Previously, during your press conference on February 2, you responded that Japan joined the Global Coalition around December. Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida responded during a meeting of the Budget Committee that it was September. There seem to be discrepancies between the responses. What is your understanding with regard to the timing that Japan joined the Global Coalition?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In September, the U.S. Department of State released a list of the partners of the Global Coalition, and I gather that this is what Minister Kishida was referring to. On the other hand, discussions took place at an international meeting among the members of the Global Coalition in December. This is what I was referring to. I believe there are no discrepancies.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the same topic. Few Japanese people are aware of when Japan joined the Global Coalition and the details related to this. Given that ISIL cited the fact that Japan had joined the Global Coalition, and other such circumstances, do you not believe there were problems with the way that the Government informed the public about this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There were no problems in my opinion. If I am not mistaken, there are five lines of effort, including providing military support. Regardless of the fact that Japan joined the Global Coalition, however, we will be extending humanitarian assistance for displaced persons and refugees, building on our past efforts. Therefore, I do not see any problems. 


REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of the 70th anniversary statement. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Abe indicated that you would be leading the coordination work. Various comments have been made regarding the statement not only from the ruling and opposition parties, but also from within and outside of Japan. How do you intend to proceed with the coordination work?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the advisory panel members are currently being selected under my leadership. We are also deciding on what will be discussed during the meetings of the advisory panel. I believe that is why the Prime Minister made those remarks. In any case, as I have stated before during these press conferences, we will determine the direction of the statement while listening to the opinions of the advisory panel members, including what messages to communicate and various other items.     

REPORTER: Several media outlets have reported on First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to Japan in March. What is the status of the arrangements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This was mentioned in the news reports, but nothing has been decided yet at this point in time. We are not ready to make an announcement.

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