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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 23, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: I have a question regarding the U.S. President’s visit to Hiroshima. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller has told several Japanese media outlets that the White House is considering a visit to Hiroshima by President Barack Obama when he is in Japan for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in May. Can you please share the reaction of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not for the Government to comment on the visit to Japan by the U.S. President. However, the Government has always considered it critically important that world leaders visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and gain exposure to the situation of the atomic bombings, in the sense that this would increase the international momentum for realizing a world free of nuclear weapons.

REPORTER: Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Hiroshima for the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ahead of the G7 Summit. Is it your understanding that a final decision would be made regarding the visit by taking into consideration Secretary Kerry’s visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I cannot say. As I stated a moment ago, the Government considers that, for Japan and the international community to aspire to realize a world free of nuclear weapons, it is critically important that world leaders gain exposure to the situation of the atomic bombings.

REPORTER: I have a question in connection with the series of terror attacks in Belgium. An airport and the subway system were targeted in Belgium. In Japan, there is also the Shinkansen. Do you have any intention of considering the possibility of baggage checks at such places? Or is your intent to pursue thorough border control?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, intelligence collection is the most important aspect in trying to prevent terror attacks. Given this fact, last year, we established the Counter Terrorism Office and Counter Terrorism Unit - Japan (CTU-J). We strengthened the mechanisms by which international terrorism intelligence is collected and aggregated under the direct control of the Prime Minister’s Office. With regard to border control, the public and private sectors are making collective efforts to reinforce counterterrorism measures, including security checks at key facilities, public organizations, and soft targets. In particular, we will work with the police, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and businesses to implement rigorous security for our public transportation systems. In view of the serious terrorism threats, we are enhancing patrols at airports and train stations. Furthermore, we are deploying police officers aboard the Shinkansen and other forms of public transportation. We also have police authorities providing guidance and advice to facility managers.

REPORTER: My question is in regard to the terror attacks in Belgium. I imagine that Prime Minister Abe will have opportunities to hold talks with North American and European leaders and others during his overseas visits. Counterterrorism is always discussed in these talks. What kind of discussion does the Japanese Government hope to have or what measures does it hope to lobby for at these fora?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, terror attacks are acts that can never be tolerated, and Japan strongly condemns such acts. At the same time, it is pivotal that countries collect intelligence and exchange intelligence with each other. As I stated a short while ago, it is important first and foremost to ensure that terror attacks are prevented from occurring. Each country has alert systems. Japan will work closely with the relevant countries to eradicate terrorism.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It is about European counterterrorism efforts. While Japan is currently cooperating with the efforts to address the issue of refugees who are increasing in number globally, can you tell us what kind of cooperation you think Japan will be able to offer in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, to date Japan has extended assistance totaling more than 1.2 billion USD to Syria, Iraq, and neighboring countries. Japan’s assistance is centered around fields such as food assistance, improving the water and sanitation situation, and vocational training—precisely humanitarian assistance that Japan excels in. Recently, we have also decided to extend an additional assistance of 350 million USD. Therefore, Japan will work closely with the international community to provide assistance to implement measures that will contribute to improving or stabilizing the situation in Syria in non-military dimensions.

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