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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 19, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

1. Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

I would like to review key points from the extraordinary Cabinet meeting. Four general items were decided, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke about “Measures taken by the Government of Japan against North Korea.”

Today a special Cabinet meeting was held, and the Cabinet conducted decisions needed to implement Japan’s own recently announced measures against North Korea. Specifically, the Cabinet decisions approved the ban on third-country vessels that have called on a North Korean port from entering Japanese ports and the ban on all North Korean vessels, including those for humanitarian purposes, from entering Japanese ports. The Cabinet also decided to approve two other measures, including a ban in principle on money transfers to North Korea and broadening of the scope of organizations and individuals covered by the asset freeze. The Government is already moving forward on the implementation of restrictions on travel by people and other measures that do not require a Cabinet decision. All of Japan’s recently announced measures against North Korea can proceed now following the Cabinet’s decisions. The Government will steadily implement these measures through close cooperation among related ministries and agencies with the aim of achieving a comprehensive solution for the issues of abductions, nuclear weapons, and missiles under a consistent framework of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action.”

2. Q&As

REPORTER: The Government has applied sanctions against North Korea numerous times in the past. What is your view of the efficacy of the sanctions decided this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The latest measures have very tough content that is truly in line with the fundamental concepts of “action for action” and “dialogue and pressure.” Japan has already been applying sanctions based on previous United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and also applied its own harsh sanctions, such as a complete ban on imports and exports with North Korea. The latest Cabinet decisions and agreements adopted even tougher sanctions. The Government intends to firmly implement its approach of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action” in dealing with North Korea through these measures.

REPORTER: This is related. What is your view on the outlook for adoption of a sanctions resolution proposal by the UNSC?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: On this point, Japan intends to put its utmost efforts toward quick realization of a UNSC resolution with forceful measures, in light of the adoption of its own tough sanctions.

REPORTER: This is related. While Japan raised the pressure on North Korea with this strengthening of sanctions, what are your thoughts about finding ways to establish dialogue toward resolving the abductions issue and other matters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan strongly urged restraint regarding the nuclear weapons test and then the ballistic missile launch, but these events still occurred in succession. Within this context, Japan announced Cabinet decisions and agreements on a set of tough sanction measures today. While North Korea announced that it is abandoning the Stockholm Agreement with Japan, Japan thinks the dismantling of the Special Committee and other actions are very disappointing and has lodged a strong protest through the Embassy in Beijing. Japan does not have any plans to abandon the Stockholm agreement and has not changed its commitment to tenaciously putting its utmost efforts into the resolution of the abductions issue by applying harsh pressure on North Korea while not shutting the door to dialogue in keeping with the principles of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action.”


REPORTER: Changing topic, I’d like to ask about the review of Japan by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva (Switzerland) on February 16. It is being said that Asahi Newspaper’s News Bureau at the Tokyo Head Office submitted a document on February 18 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) that voices disappointment with a statement by Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, as the Government representative at the meeting, that a media report by Asahi Newspaper regarding the comfort women issue which had a major impact on international views is unfounded. You have been explaining that comments by the Government representative on the comfort women issue simply described the related facts. What are your thoughts about this complaint from the Asahi Newspaper?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making a comment at this point because I have not received a detailed report from the MOFA. At any rate, I believe the Japanese side simply described related facts in response to questions at the meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, as mentioned earlier.


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