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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 8, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: My question concerns the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” which an advisory body to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommended for inscription on the World Heritage List. The Republic of Korea (ROK) is protesting the inscription of the sites, saying that they include places where Korean people were conscripted to work from the Korean Peninsula and are not in line with the World Heritage principles. I understand that the Government will be holding government-level consultations with the ROK. How do you intend to gain the understanding of the ROK? Also, can you tell us what kind of a forum you envision for the consultations?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, in nominating the sites, Japan focused on their outstanding universal value as industrial heritage sites from the period between 1850 and 1910. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a UNESCO advisory body, recommended the sites for inscription. It means that a body of experts acknowledged that the sites were worthy of being listed on the World Cultural Heritage List and made this recommendation. We consider that political assertions as alleged by the ROK should not be brought into this. The Government hopes that the World Heritage Committee respects ICOMOS’s recommendation and that the sites nominated by Japan are reviewed from a technical and specialists’ perspective. As for the Government, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Cabinet Secretariat will work collectively to provide adequate explanations to the members of the World Heritage Committee, including the ROK, and continue to seek their understanding. In this context, we have received a request from the ROK to hold bilateral consultations and are making arrangements to this end. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on their specific content. As I mentioned moments ago, the recommendation means that an advisory body to UNESCO, in this case ICOMOS, a body of experts, acknowledged that the sites are worthy of being listed on the World Cultural Heritage List. The Government will work collectively to provide explanations to the respective countries to ensure that the recommendation is followed. 


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). State Minister of Cabinet Office Yasutoshi Nishimura in charge of the TPP indicated at one point that the Government intends to give Diet members access to the text of the TPP under negotiation under certain conditions. However, the State Minister gave a press conference in Los Angeles a short while ago and withdrew his remark, saying that this was not what he had implied. What is the Government’s view on giving Diet members access to the text? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have been briefed that earlier, State Minister Nishimura gave a press conference at the destination of his visit to correct this remark. There are differences between the systems of the United States and Japan. In this sense, I believe it is difficult for Japan to do the same as the United States. We will continue to examine what measures can be taken by referring to the practices in countries other than the United States. With regard to the content of State Minister Nishimura’s remark, in any case, the Government has been deliberating the TPP at Diet committees and elsewhere while constantly finding itself in a quandary over to what extent information on the TPP can be provided under the confidentiality restrictions. Under these circumstances, we have spoken with U.S. Congress members to understand the situation in the United States. However, the confidentiality obligations of legislative members and the relevant systems are entirely and significantly different between Japan and the United States. In the United States, Congress has trade negotiating authority. In addition, confidentiality obligations are imposed on Congress members, which are accompanied by rigorous punitive measures. In this context, the same cannot be done in Japan as in the United States. Nevertheless, we are reviewing what information provision arrangements would be possible.


REPORTER: According to some news reports, the Government is looking into submitting a new proposal to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly this autumn on expanding the membership of the Security Council. Under the proposal, the Security Council’s permanent seats would be increased from 5 to 11 and non-permanent seats from 10 to 14 or 15. Can you tell us whether the reports are true and the objectives behind this proposal?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This year marks the 70th year of the UN. On this milestone year, Japan, together with India, Brazil, and Germany, as G4, will increasingly urge countries, including countries in Africa, to promote Security Council reform. In any case, as of now, the G4 has not changed its position from before. In principle, the G4 is urging countries to support Security Council reform based on the position it adopted in 2005. To work with Africa and taking into account the position of Africa, the G4 has shown flexibility by proposing two new non-permanent Security Council seats for Africa. Japan will work with each of the other G4 members to carry out thorough discussions and make contributions at intergovernmental negotiation forums on Security Council reform. Japan has not yet reached the stage of submitting a draft General Assembly resolution to the UN General Assembly. While it has not been submitted yet, there are various news reports about it. In any case, Japan will work with the G4 to take steps while showing flexibility in working with our African partners. 


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