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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 1, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: This afternoon, North Korea launched a surface-to-air missile towards the Sea of Japan. Can you please tell us what information the Japanese Government knows as of now?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I am of course aware of these news reports. The Government has serious concerns over North Korea’s missile activities and is constantly working to collect and analyze intelligence. However, I would like to refrain from disclosing the detailed content of individual intelligence and analysis matters. In any case, we have not confirmed any missiles flying towards Japan and do not perceive that a situation with direct implications on the security of Japan has occurred.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about the full liberalization of the electricity retail business that started today. To my understanding, this is something that the Abe administration has promoted as one of the pillars of its growth strategy and regulatory reforms. Can you please speak about its significance or the effects that you are expecting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, electric power companies have had a regional monopoly, in fact, for 65 years since the end of World War II. Legal amendments to revise this system were made at the recent Diet session, and as a result, the electricity retail business has been liberalized. We consider this to be one of the pillars of the foundational regulatory reforms, so to speak, of Abenomics. Even general households will now be able to choose electric power companies and price options. In this regard, this would give rise to dynamic competition, and we expect that this would lead to a lowering of electricity prices and new services. In this sense, we believe it will become a part of the growth strategy by revitalizing Japanese industries on the whole.


REPORTER: I have a question in regard to the Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit meeting. When a question about this was also asked this morning, you stated that the three leaders agreed that they would give instructions to working-level officials so that the foreign policy and defense authorities of the three countries can work together to make concrete progress on security and defense cooperation. Have these instructions already been given?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Obviously officials from the respective ministries and agencies accompanied the Prime Minister at this meeting. In this sense, as it was agreed that the Prime Minister would give instructions, I expect that instructions are being given.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Exactly what kind of cooperation are you envisioning for this security and defense cooperation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The three countries will continue to strengthen their close collaboration. With regard to what this entails, I would like to refrain from commenting as it concerns diplomatic exchanges or indeed critically important security matters of our respective countries.

REPORTER: I have one more question regarding this. During this morning’s press conference, Minister of Defense Nakatani indicated that Japan would immediately lobby the Republic of Korea (ROK) to swiftly conclude the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between the two countries. Do you have an idea as to when or the general schedule in regard to this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, it was confirmed that Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation would be deepened further in the security field, and that Japan, the United States, and the ROK would continue to strengthen their collaboration. That is where we stand. As I stated moments ago, I would like to refrain from disclosing the details of the steps that would be taken or the various issues due to the nature of the matter.

REPORTER: I have a question in relation to Japan’s nuclear policy. With regard to the use of nuclear weapons, the Government’s written response that was approved by the Cabinet today states that Article 9 of the Constitution is construed as not banning the possession and use of all nuclear weapons, and goes on to state that as a policy option, Japan upholds the “Three Non-Nuclear Principles” and would not possess any nuclear weapons. On the other hand, Mr. Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican Party presidential primaries, commented that he would permit Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons. Do you view that the nuclear policy that I just described would be upheld, even if the modality of the Japan-U.S. Alliance were to change under the new President?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As a policy guideline, Japan upholds the “Three Non-Nuclear Principles” of not possessing any nuclear weapons. In addition, Japan commits to not possessing any nuclear weapons pursuant to the Atomic Energy Basic Act and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.


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