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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 21, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe will attend the Seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7), which will be held in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture from May 22 to 23. At this meeting, discussion will take place at the summit level on the common issues facing island countries in the Pacific, including the issues of disaster risk reduction, and the environment and climate change. Prime Minister Abe will deliver a statement on deepening the partnership between Japan and Pacific countries, as well as hold talks with leaders who are attending the meeting. We hope that the PALM leaders will get a close look at the strong recovery that Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture has made from the Great East Japan Earthquake, through visiting the affected areas and eating foods which have been made from ingredients from Fukushima Prefecture. 


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the issue of the inscription on the World Heritage List. Yesterday, President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea (ROK) held talks with Director-General Irina Bokova of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). President Park expressed her regret that Japan was applying to have the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” inscribed on the list while turning a blind eye to the history of forced labor, and criticized the inscription, saying it would create an unnecessary rift between the two nations. What is your reaction to this?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am of course aware of these news reports. Japan hopes that the World Heritage Committee respects the recommendation of UNESCO’s advisory body the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), that the sites nominated by Japan are reviewed from a technical and specialists’ perspective, and that as recommended it is decided that they be inscribed on the World Heritage List. We consider that political assertions should not be brought into this matter. In this sense, it is extremely regrettable if the ROK President did in fact make the reported remarks. In any case, the Government of Japan will work as one to provide adequate explanations to the ROK and the other respective member states of the World Heritage Committee to gain their understanding.


REPORTER: Yesterday, during a meeting held at the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party, Mr. Shigeo Iizuka, the head of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, expressed the view that Japan should strengthen its sanctions against North Korea if North Korea’s reinvestigation into the victims of abduction and others do not produce results by the July deadline. Is there any overlap between Mr. Iizuka’s wish and the view of the Government? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s position has not changed at all. The Government will continue to strongly urge North Korea to conduct the investigation promptly and notify the results swiftly and honestly, in accordance with the Japan-North Korea agreement. As I have stated numerous times, the abduction issue is one of the foremost priorities of the Abe administration. Therefore, the administration is committed to realizing the return to Japan of all victims of abduction by adhering to the principles of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action.” We will continue to constantly review our measures against North Korea from the standpoint of what would be effective for realizing the return to Japan of all victims of abduction.   


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