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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 27, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 28 general and other measures, a draft bill, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister of Finance made a statement concerning the provisional budget for FY2015; the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement about the results of the labor force survey, consumer price index, and the household budget survey; the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement regarding the national ratio of jobs to applicants; the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement about the results of administrative evaluation and monitoring of national subsidy programs relating to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement on emergency grant aid to the Pacific Island countries in response to the cyclone disaster; the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology made a statement concerning personnel affairs relating to the heads of national university corporations; and Prime Minister Abe made a statement concerning acting Ministers while Ministers in charge are away on overseas visits.


Next I would like to report about Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Singapore. On March 29 the Prime Minister will visit Singapore, where he will attend the state funeral for former Prime Minister of Singapore Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. The late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is one of the greatest leaders of modern times that Asia has ever produced and for more than half a century and throughout his life Mr. Lee Kuan Yew played a key role in securing peace and stability of the Asia Pacific region and the world. Given the tremendous contribution made by former Prime Minister Lee, it has been decided that the Prime Minister will attend the state funeral on behalf of the people and Government of Japan, in order to pay his respects directly to the people and Government of Singapore. I would like to take this opportunity to once again offer my prayers for the repose of former Prime Minister Lee.

In the early hours of this morning, March 27, an announcement was made that Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner has invited Prime Minister Abe to address a joint meeting of Congress. Following the invitation from Speaker Boehner, Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to address a joint meeting of Congress on April 29. This will be the first time for a Japanese Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of Congress. The Government considers that in addition to the official schedule of events in Washington D.C., the Prime Minister’s address to Congress will be most significant in that it will demonstrate to the world the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance.



REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Prime Minister’s address to the joint meeting of Congress, which you mentioned in your opening comments. This is the first time for a Japanese Prime Minister to address a joint meeting, so what do you consider to be the primary factors behind this address finally being realized after 70 years since the end of the war?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister’s visit to the United States on this occasion is for the purpose of sending out a message around the world about how Japan and the United States engaged in a process of reconciliation following the war and how the two countries have contributed to the peace and prosperity of the world as firm alliance partners sharing common values of respect for basic human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In addition, the visit will underscore how the two countries will further develop this unique alliance relationship to contribute further to international peace and prosperity. The visit will also provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the world the path Japan has followed over the 70 years since World War II.

REPORTER: Conversely, it could be perceived that although the Japan-U.S. alliance has continued for many years, no Japanese Prime Minister since Prime Minister Ikeda has addressed the House of Representatives and never before has a Japanese Prime Minister been invited to address a joint meeting of Congress. Why do you think that this is the case?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that for the United States side, when looking at the matter as a whole, various and complex matters were involved. However, the contributions of Japan over the course of 70 years as a nation that respects basic human rights, and upholds democracy, peace and the rule of law have been highly evaluated by the international community. In that sense I believe that it is Japan’s contribution that has led to the invitation being extended to the Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of Congress.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning Japan-China relations. With regard to the ceremony in China to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, this morning Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida stated that the Government of Japan had conveyed its ideas to China that a future-oriented relationship is of the utmost importance. Are we to understand therefore that the Government has indicated to China that it will not be participating in the ceremony in China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, the Government of Japan considers that it is important to tackle common challenges that the international community is facing in a future-oriented manner. Regarding the ceremony you mentioned, we have conveyed our ideas. We intend to keep a close eye on the progress related to this issue. At this point in time nothing has been decided about whether Japan will participate in the ceremony or not.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the German airliner accident. French accident investigation authorities have expressed the view that the co-pilot deliberately crashed the aircraft. What information has the Government received from countries concerned?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, on March 26 the French investigation authorities announced that it was likely that the co-pilot of the Germanwings aircraft had deliberately crashed the aircraft. The Government was truly shocked when it heard this announcement. However, all the facts have yet to be clarified and it is the Government’s hope that all matters will be explained as soon as possible through the investigations of French and other related authorities. At this moment the Government has not received any new information concerning the safety of the two Japanese nationals who were onboard.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The Republic of Korea (ROK) recently formally announced that it will participate in the AIIB. Could you tell us the Government’s thoughts about this announcement and how the Government of Japan intends to respond, given that the ROK, also an ally of the United States, has now made an announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Needless to say I am aware of the announcement by the ROK, but I do not think that I should comment about the decisions of a third country as a member of the Government. With regard to the position of Japan on this matter, as I have said before the Government maintains a cautious stance on participating in this bank, believing it to be necessary to give careful consideration to a number of points, such as whether the bank will be able to ensure fair governance, and also whether it will provide loans without regard for sustainability of debt, resulting in losses for other creditors. On successive occasions to date the Government has raised these points with China. At this point in time no clear explanation has been received. The Government of Japan will continue to cooperate with other countries concerned and call on China for clarification. That is our current stance.


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