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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 22, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

From Tuesday, April 5, to Thursday, April 7, H.E. Mr. Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, and Mrs. Poroshenko will visit Japan at the invitation of the Government of Japan. During their stay, Prime Minister Abe will hold a summit meeting with President Poroshenko and host a dinner banquet. During the meeting the two leaders are scheduled to engage in a serious and candid exchange of opinions concerning the situation in Ukraine, in preparation for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit to be held in May. Prime Minister Abe intends to express the determination of Japan, as the country holding the G7 Presidency, to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine and to continue to support domestic reforms in Ukraine. This visit to Japan is expected to further strengthen Japan-Ukraine relations.


REPORTER: In the Cabinet meeting today did Prime Minister Abe make any kind of statement with regard to the Legislation for Peace and Security, which it has been decided will enter into force on March 29?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In summary, what the Prime Minister stated was that no security situation can be permitted to be unpredictable, and that it is the most important responsibility of the Government to ensure that the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan are protected in any situation. Looking at the situation after the passage of this legislation, we see too, for example, situations in which North Korea is engaging in provocative actions, including the testing of nuclear weapons and the launching of ballistic missiles that have flown through Japanese airspace. In recent days, too, further missiles have been launched. It is against such a backdrop that the entry into force of the Legislation for Peace and Security has historic importance, as it will further enhance the peace and safety of Japan by further improving deterrence capabilities and making an even more proactive contribution to regional and international peace and stability. The Prime Minister also expressed his expectation that under Minister of Defense Nakatani the Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will ensure a system is in place so that SDF personnel can execute their newly designated duties appropriately, all the while ensuring their security. He also said that what is important in advancing security policy is to gain the broad support of the people of Japan and requested all ministers concerned for their continued cooperation in efforts to gain greater public understanding.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have just mentioned that the broad support of the people of Japan is necessary, and yet the opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), were all in agreement that the Legislation for Peace and Security should be abandoned. What is your view of the current situation in which opposition parties are still maintaining their opposition to the legislation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, and as the Prime Minister himself noted, given the reality of the security environment surrounding Japan, including the nuclear weapons test by North Korea and the launching of ballistic missiles, including further launches of missiles or rockets in the last few days, the greatest responsibility of the Government is to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan. In view of this situation, through the passage of this legislation the Government seeks to execute its responsibilities thoroughly, and in the case of advance response, and other matters, the legislation will enable a seamless response in cooperation with the United States. In addition, the Prime Minister instructed Cabinet members to provide detailed explanations to the people of Japan in order to gain broad public support. With regard to the stated aim of the opposition parties to achieve the scrapping of the legislation, I believe that it is necessary for these parties to demonstrate to the public what type of structures they would propose that would be able to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people, in view of the current realities we face. Above all the Government seeks to make the Japan-U.S. Alliance the cornerstone for our security, and in the sense that the Legislation for Peace and Security further deepens that alliance and also considering global peace, the Government worked to achieve the passage of the legislation. Therefore I believe that we will also gradually gain the understanding of the people of Japan. In today’s newspapers there also were reports that public understanding for the legislation is already growing. I think that in view of the real and present issues we face, and the severity of the security environment, we are gaining the understanding of the public.

REPORTER: With regard to "kaketsuke-keigo" (coming to the aid of geographically distant units or personnel under attack), which is a new duty of the SDF, what perspectives is the Government considering about the timing of the designation of such new duties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As both the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister have noted in responses to questions in the Diet, it is important to make thorough preparations. In any event, thorough preparations will be made and SDF personnel will be provided with various training to ensure their safety in such situations.


REPORTER: With regard to the announced visit of President and Mrs. Poroshenko, did the Government provide any kind of explanation to Russia before the visit was officially announced? Or has Russia reacted in any way to news of this visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that this matter relates to diplomatic affairs I would like to refrain from making any specific comment due to its nature. However, as I just stated, the Government will continue to engage actively in efforts to realize a peaceful resolution to the situation in Ukraine.


REPORTER: There are reports by the Korean Central News Agency that Kim Jong-un, First Secretary of the Workers’ Party observed the launch of a new type of multiple launch rocket system. Apparently he was present to watch the launch of five projectiles yesterday. Can I ask for the views of the Government with regard to this matter and whether the facts behind these reports have been confirmed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is engaged in various efforts to collect and analyze intelligence about the launch of missiles and other projectiles by North Korea. However, due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from making any specific comment at this time. The Government has a comprehensive structure in place to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan.


REPORTER: I have a question about the Ise-Shima Summit and the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that is scheduled to be held in Hiroshima in April. I believe that the Government had proposed that all attending foreign ministers, including those of nuclear powers such as the United States and France, would visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to lay flowers. What is the current status of arrangements regarding this proposal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s stance on this issue is that inviting global leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see for themselves the realities of atomic bombing is an important means of heightening momentum towards a world without nuclear weapons. From that perspective the Government is seeking to create such momentum through opportunities such as the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, but as yet I am unable to say anything definitively about such a visit.

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