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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 27, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga



REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Kumamoto Earthquake. The Prime Minister has given instructions for the earthquake to be designated as a Specified Emergency Disaster, of which there are three previous examples, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the Chuetsu Earthquake, and the Great East Japan Earthquake. Is this designation based on the recognition that the damage from the earthquake is on such a major scale as to be designated as a Specified Emergency Disaster?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not possible to simply compare this disaster with previous earthquakes. However, the recent disaster has caused more than 200,000 people to evacuate from their homes. It is therefore of the utmost importance to protect the rights and assets of the people affected by the disaster and that is why the Government has designated the earthquake as a Specified Emergency Disaster.


REPORTER: In your response to the Cabinet Committee of the House of Representatives, you stated that the current situation does not permit any thought to be given on whether the Kumamoto Earthquake is a disaster of sufficient scale to warrant postponing the rise in the consumption tax rate. Are we to understand that as the situation develops, the earthquake may be designated as a large-scale disaster and therefore there may be sufficient reason to postpone the consumption tax rate rise?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you are all aware, the Government is currently concentrating all its efforts on search and rescue, recovery and living support activities. Therefore, now is not the time to engage in discussion about the subject of your question.

REPORTER: If that is the case, are we to assume that under current circumstances there is no discussion on the economic impact of the Kumamoto Earthquake and whether it will impact the decision on whether to raise the consumption tax rate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister has always stated that a situation equivalent to the financial crisis or the Great East Japan Earthquake would have an impact. That is all.


REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. According to some press reports, Mr. Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of Genkai Town in Saga Prefecture has indicated that he would be open to accepting high-level radioactive waste for final disposal. Can I ask for the Government’s response to this news?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I am aware of the press reports, the Government has not heard directly from the mayor about this matter, and therefore I would like to refrain from making any comment.

REPORTER: I have a question about the agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) regarding the comfort women issue. President Park Geun-hye of the ROK has stated that the removal of the statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul is not mentioned at all in the agreement, and that this issue should not be used to inflame the situation. In this morning’s press conference the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary responded to this question, but can I ask for your views?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the details are as announced in the joint press conference by Foreign Minister Kishida and Mr. Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, that is all. The agreement was subsequently confirmed by the leaders of the two countries and therefore I believe it is important for both Japan and the ROK to move forward responsibly to implement the agreement.

REPORTER: In the course of her comments, President Park also indicated a certain degree of appreciation for the efforts being made by Japan to implement the agreement. What is the Government’s view of the efforts currently being made by the ROK side?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First and foremost, given that the agreement has been confirmed by the leaders of both countries, what is of the utmost importance is for both countries to move forward responsibly to implement its content.


REPORTER: On a different topic, I have a question about President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima. Arrangements are in their final stages with a view to the President making a formal announcement at the end of next week. Could you tell us once again about the Government’s thoughts on the significance of a visit to Hiroshima by President Obama?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, a visit to Hiroshima by President Obama will ultimately be determined by the U.S. side and there is absolutely no coordination on this matter between Japan and the United States. Therefore I think that I should refrain from responding to a hypothetical question.

REPORTER: In general terms, what would the Government’s view be if a world leader were to visit Hiroshima?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Any visit would be highly significant in that it would increase momentum towards a world without nuclear weapons.

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