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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 5, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, from 8:30 a.m. for approximately 30 minutes, Prime Minister Abe held telephone talks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The overview is as follows. Based on President Barack Obama’s order, Vice President Biden provided a detailed explanation to Prime Minister Abe on the issue of the collection of communication records by the U.S. National Security Agency. Vice President Biden stated to the effect that he and President Obama empathized that this matter is drawing a large controversy in Japan and is causing an inconvenience to Prime Minister Abe and the Government of Japan. In response, Prime Minister Abe said if it is true that Japanese individuals were targeted, it could shake the relationship of trust between the allies and he would have to express deep concerns. The Prime Minister requested that this matter be investigated and that its results be explained to Japan. Vice President Biden explained that the U.S. Government has not conducted any acts, based on a presidential directive that President Obama issued in 2014, that would undermine the relationship of trust that underpins the Japan-U.S. Alliance. In addition, Vice President Biden stated that the United States hoped to further deepen the already strong cooperative relationship of the Japan-U.S. Alliance in light of the various threats currently facing our common interests. In response, Prime Minister Abe reiterated the importance of the relationship of trust that underpins the Japan-U.S. Alliance and stated that appropriate responses were therefore needed. Prime Minister Abe and Vice President Biden agreed to continue the discussions between the two countries.  



REPORTER: I have a related question. Were these telephone talks held in response to what you stated at your press conference, about strongly urging the United States to confirm the truth? That is, was it the United States that wished to provide an explanation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It was the United States that said the Vice President wished to give an explanation in the wake of the news reports regarding the issue of the so-called collection of communication records. 

REPORTER: You said that you requested an investigation. Did the United States say when and in what manner they would respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister strongly urged the United States to conduct an investigation and to explain the results to Japan. The Prime Minister stated that the relationship of trust that underpins the Japan-U.S. Alliance was important, and that therefore, an appropriate response were ultimately needed. The two sides agreed to continue the discussions between the two countries.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject to the Japan-North Korea relationship. A Japan-North Korea foreign ministers’ meeting is expected to be held on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum to be held in Malaysia from the 6th. It is believed that the two sides will exchange views on the abduction issue, among other matters. What are the Government’s expectations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, nothing concrete has been decided regarding Minister Kishida’s attendance of this foreign ministers’ meeting on the margins of the ASEAN meeting and whether or not he would have contact with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea. We hope contact can be made as quickly as possible. 

REPORTER: Assuming that they will have contact, what are the expectations of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, the Government remains committed to pursuing “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action” in order to realize the return to Japan of all abductees as quickly as possible. The Prime Minister has instructed the Minister for Foreign Affairs to take such opportunities presented by international meetings and other events to urge key North Korean officials that Japan’s top priority is realizing the return to Japan of the victims of abduction. I believe the meeting provides such an opportunity.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. A Russian newspaper reported that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is considering attending an event that will be held in Etorofu Island in the Northern Territories in August. How will the Japanese Government respond? What requests does the Government intend to make to Russia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, if Prime Minister Medvedev’s visit to Etorofu Island takes place, it would contradict Japan’s position regarding the Four Northern Islands and would bring negative impact on public sentiment in Japan. As such, the Japanese Government cannot accept this. In this regard, the Minister-Counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Russia expressed Japan’s concerns to Russia on the 23rd, and the Director of the Russian Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did so on the 24th. Japan is strongly requesting that Prime Minister Medvedev not go ahead with the visit to the Four Northern Islands.


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