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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 16, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, will pay a working visit to Japan on Friday, December 18. Japan and Australia have a “special relationship” in which they share fundamental values and strategic interests. We view that the deepening of our bilateral relations will contribute to the national interests of both Japan and Australia, as well as to the peace and prosperity of the region and the entire international community. By welcoming for the first time to Japan Prime Minister Turnbull, who took office as Prime Minister this September, we hope that our bilateral relations that have been forged in wide-ranging areas will deepen even further.


REPORTER: I have a question in regard to the Memory of the World Register of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). With regard to the inscription on the Memory of the World Register, UNESCO has decided to notify member states that in the case of nominating documentary heritage that involves multiple countries, the heritage should be jointly nominated after holding preliminary talks with other relevant countries. As a member state that has promoted reforms, what is the Japanese Government’s assessment of this reform proposal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government is aware that the Secretariat of UNESCO has begun to conduct reviews aimed at revising the system of the Memory of the World Register. However, the UNESCO Secretariat is currently examining what revisions should be made, and therefore the Government would like to refrain from making comments. In any case, the Government considers it an urgent task to improve the system to ensure fairness and transparency, in order to prevent the Memory of the World Register from being utilized for overtly political purposes. The Government will continue to strongly urge this to the UNESCO Secretariat.

REPORTER: While the details are yet to be decided, what is your view of UNESCO’s intention to encourage preliminary talks among relevant countries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, the Secretariat is currently examining this. In any case, Japan is strongly urging these measures.

REPORTER: Perhaps it is difficult to answer until everything about the reforms is known, but previously the Government stated that it would consider reducing or stopping Japan’s assessed contributions and voluntary contributions to UNESCO. If the reforms are realized, will the Government not be considering this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At this moment in time, the Government would like to refrain from responding about these assumptions or hypothetical situations. At any rate, the utilization of the Memory of the World Register for overtly political purposes should be prevented by all means. Japan is strongly urging reforms of the system to ensure fairness and transparency, not by itself but in coordination with other countries concerned.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to Japan which you explained about in your opening statement. When is the summit meeting with Prime Minister Abe scheduled for? In addition, will the issue of whaling or the issue of providing submarine technology, for example, constitute the main agenda items of the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not yet able to announce the exact time. During the Prime Minister’s stay, a meeting and a dinner between Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Turnbull are of course scheduled to be held. At the summit meeting, based on the special relationship between Japan and Australia, the leaders are expected to discuss cooperation in the areas of their diplomacy, economy, security, and defense, as well as human resource exchange and further collaboration at regional and international fora. As for your question, the agenda is currently being coordinated between the two countries. In any case, I anticipate that the leaders will discuss issues of mutual interest.

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