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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 5, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: With regard to the comfort women issue relating to the former Japanese army, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has recently announced that a white paper detailing the actual situation of the damage suffered by the comfort women will be published as planned. The ROK is also planning to publish foreign language versions of the white paper and there are concerns that the publication could contravene the agreement reached between Japan and the ROK at the end of last year, in which it was agreed that the two countries will refrain from accusing or criticizing each other regarding this issue in the international community. What is your view of this announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in answer to your question, I am unaware of the content of the white paper. In any event I believe that the Government of the ROK will respond appropriately. The agreement was announced in a joint press conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida and Mr. Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, and the content of the agreement is exactly as it was announced, nothing more and nothing less.

REPORTER: Given that you state that the content of the agreement is nothing more and nothing less than was announced, prior to the publication of the white paper does the Government intend to seek confirmation from the ROK Government concerning whether the publication of the white paper will be in line with the agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that the two countries have announced in a press conference that a final and irreversible agreement has been reached, I expect that the Government of the ROK will respond appropriately with regard to this issue.


REPORTER: Was the meeting of the Cabinet Intelligence Council held in response to the recently escalating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, or was it a regularly scheduled meeting? Also, while I understand that you may not be able to divulge the content, was this topic discussed in some manner?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This was a regularly scheduled meeting. The holding of meetings of the Cabinet Intelligence Council is of course necessary for sharing important information for the safety and security of the nation and the people of Japan. For this reason I would like to refrain from commenting about the content of discussions.

REPORTER: It has been decided that 331 kg of plutonium for research purposes will be returned to the United States in order to ensure nuclear security. Could you tell us whether the return of the plutonium is planned to be implemented around the time of the fourth Nuclear Security Summit, which is scheduled to be held in Washington D.C. in March?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, it was agreed in the Japan-U.S. summit meeting in 2014 that the plutonium would be transported to the United States. Currently preparations are being made for the return of the plutonium, but I would like to refrain from making more detailed comments from the perspective of nuclear security.

REPORTER: It is said that the maritime shipment of more than 300 kg of plutonium will be the first of its kind since 1993. Although I am not asking you to go into details concerning safety and security measures for shipment, given the heightened risk of terrorism around the world, to what degree of precision are preparations being made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Safety and security measures for shipment are being implemented based on the international standards stipulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). However, as I previously noted, I would like to refrain from giving further details, in light of the related nuclear security issues. In any event, the ministries and agencies concerned are working carefully together to ensure that all necessary measures are implemented to ensure safe and secure shipment.

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