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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 29, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

I. Opening comments


II. Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the North Korean missile situation that was also covered in yesterday’s press conference. Think tanks and high-level government officials in the United States have mentioned the possibility of a launch within a few weeks. Yesterday, you mentioned that the possibility of some type of provocation could not be ruled out, and Minister of Defense Nakatani halted his visit to Okinawa. Please give an update on current conditions known by the Government and its response.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is putting its full efforts into gathering and analyzing information regarding developments related to the North Korean missile situation as a very important matter. However, I would like to refrain from making comments on specific information and content due to the nature of the issue. Furthermore, the Government realizes that the possibility of some type of provocative action, including the launch of a ballistic missile without an advance warning, cannot be ruled out based on our analysis of behavior thus far by the Kim Jong-un regime. In any case, while closely cooperating with the US, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and others, the Government is strongly appealing to North Korea to refrain from provocative actions and adhere to the related Security Council resolutions and Joint Statement by the Six-Party Talks and is fully prepared to respond to any type of event.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In previous press conferences and even yesterday’s press conference, you have repeatedly explained that Japan intends to monitor North Korea’s reaction in regards to independent sanctions against North Korea. Since there has clearly been activity around the missile launch site, what is the Government’s view of this provocative posture as North Korea’s reaction?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Simply put, the Government retains its existing position of firmly responding while closely monitoring developments at the United Nations and North Korea’s reaction.

REPORTER: I have a question about the resignation by Minister Amari. The markets are taking the view that Minister Amari’s resignation constitutes the loss of a key leader on economic policy and this is raising concerns. How do you see his resignation impacting Abenomics?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Minister Amari announced his resignation yesterday. He had truly been a driving force for economic policy and Abenomics as the architect on economic matters in the Abe Cabinet up until yesterday. Minister Amari also negotiated the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as the Minister in charge of TPP. The Abe Cabinet remains committed to revitalizing the economy with a top priority on economic matters and therefore cannot afford any slowdown in these efforts. From this perspective, it immediately appointed Minister Ishihara as the successor.

REPORTER: This is related. My impression is that Minister Amari placed emphasis on growth, while the incoming Minister Ishihara is more aligned with fiscal discipline, including his activity on the Tax Research Council. Some people are suggesting that this choice might have an impact on the economic policies of Abenomics. What is your view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think this will happen. The Prime Minister handed a letter of appointment to Minister Ishihara yesterday. The letter calls for the Minister to promote the Abe administration’s existing policies, including formulation and implementation of a detailed plan for realization of 600 trillion yen in GDP, achievement of 3% nominal economic growth with a top priority on overcoming deflation, steady implementation of growth strategies to achieve these goals, and promotion of flexible economic and fiscal management. The Prime Minister presented Minister Ishihara with clear instructions in this letter of appointment that covered the same content given by the Prime Minister to Minister Amari in October 2015. Minister Ishihara responded that he fully understood the instructions and would carry them out. I therefore am not concerned.


REPORTER: On a separate topic, Kansai Electric Power plans to resume operation of the No.3 Reactor at the Takahama Nuclear Plant this afternoon. This is the third nuclear reactor to pass the new regulatory standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, and it is also the first resumption of plutonium-thermal power generation. Please explain your thoughts.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of plans to activate the nuclear reactor for the No.3 Reactor at the Takahama Nuclear Plant today. I obviously expect Kansai Electric Power to handle the restart as a top priority on safety and also will be looking for the Nuclear Regulation Authority to rigorously implement its inspections.

REPORTER: Is the Government still adhering to the policy of moving forward with resumptions of nuclear reactors that satisfy the standards?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government retains its existing policy in this regard.


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