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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 9, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in North Korea. WPK First Secretary Kim Jong-un indicated that North Korea, as a nuclear weapon state, would proceed with the development of nuclear weapons and missiles. What is the Japanese Government’s analysis of the First Secretary’s address? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I am aware that First Secretary Kim Jong-un delivered a report on the work of the WPK on May 6 and 7 at the seventh WPK Congress that has been held since the 6th. In that report, the First Secretary announced that North Korea would implement a five-year strategy for state economic development, and underscored North Korea’s firm resolve to continue to possess nuclear weapons as well as North Korea’s intention to continue with the satellite launches. With regard to Japan, the First Secretary stated that Japan has ambitions to reinvade the Korean Peninsula, and that Japan must express remorse and apologize for its past sins and not interfere with the unification of Korea. I am aware of this. First, it is totally unacceptable that North Korea indicated its intention to continue to develop nuclear weapons and missiles without complying with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, and that North Korea made unilateral assertions regarding Japan. The Government remains committed to comprehensively resolving the outstanding issues relating to North Korea in coordination with the relevant countries, based on the principles of dialogue and pressure and action for action.


REPORTER: I have a related question. While First Secretary Kim Jong-un refers to a “responsible nuclear weapon state,” the First Secretary also stated that North Korea would not use a nuclear weapon before other countries, that it would fulfill its obligation to prevent nuclear proliferation, and that it would make efforts to realize global denuclearization. What is your assessment of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, it is vital that North Korea complies with the UNSC resolutions and the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. North Korea expressed its firm resolve to continue to possess nuclear weapons. North Korea must first and foremost comply with the UNSC resolutions and the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and it is totally unacceptable that North Korea expressed its resolve to continue to possess nuclear weapons without doing so. North Korea needs to comply with the UNSC resolutions and realize its own denuclearization before making such unilateral assertions. Japan will work closely with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in urging North Korea to first fully comply with the UNSC resolutions.


REPORTER: A related question. Based on the outcomes of the WPK Congress, are there any plans for ministers to hold telephone talks with their U.S. or ROK counterparts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you are all aware, Japan constantly carries out maximum surveillance of the activities of North Korea in coordination with the United States and the ROK. In this context, Japan will steadily and further deepen its collaboration with the United States and the ROK.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about a hostage incident involving journalists in Syria. The Government of Spain announced the release of three Spanish journalists who were considered to have been held hostage by the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. It is believed that this organization has also taken hostage Mr. Jumpei Yasuda, whose whereabouts have been unknown since June of last year. Do you perceive that the latest development will lead to progress in the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of such news reports. The Government is mindful every day that its most important responsibility is to secure the safety of Japanese nationals, and is making every effort to deal with the situation using each and every information network. Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-Russia summit meeting that was held in Sochi, Russia on May 6, last week. The two leaders agreed to proceed with the negotiations on the Northern Territories issue by adopting an approach based on new ideas. However, the details of this new approach have not been revealed. When, at what timing, will the details be disclosed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, on the 6th, in Sochi, Russia, Prime Minister Abe held a Japan-Russia summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin for over three hours. It was a very substantive meeting that included discussion between just the two leaders for approximately 35 minutes. I believe the meeting has further deepened the personal trust between the leaders. In this context, the two leaders concurred that the two countries should actively proceed with negotiations toward the formulation of solutions acceptable to both sides through a new approach that is not stuck in a traditional way of thinking in order to make a breakthrough in the current negotiation stalemate. In addition, they agreed to negotiate from a future-oriented standpoint, taking into account not only the bilateral perspective between Japan and Russia, but also a global perspective, and to implement the next round of peace treaty negotiations based on this approach in June in Tokyo.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Meanwhile, there was no specific mention of the timing of President Putin’s visit to Japan. Prime Minister Abe announced his intention to attend the economic forum that will be held in Vladivostok in September. Even as the President’s visit to Japan fails to be realized, the Prime Minister continues to successively visit Russia. What are the Government’s thoughts on this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In answer to your question, this forum had been scheduled in advance, and in this context, the Prime Minister will be attending the forum. Furthermore, the two sides have agreed that they would actively hold summit meetings, such high-level political dialogues, and that preparations would be made for President Putin’s visit to Japan at an optimal timing. Additionally, the two sides have agreed to sustain dialogue between the leaders on the margins of international meetings. I have been informed that as part of these efforts, it was decided that a summit meeting would be held on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in September at the invitation of the President. In any case, we view that it is critically important to hold summit meetings on the margins of such international meetings to carry out thorough consultations regarding the direction for concluding the peace treaty under this new approach.

REPORTER: My question pertains to the previous question. In connection with the new approach, at the recent meeting, the Government of Japan proposed economic cooperation on eight items. Does this mean that the peace treaty negotiations would be conducted in parallel with such economic cooperation as a package deal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, while I will refrain from disclosing the details, I would like to say at the outset that there is no change to the basic position of Japan that a peace treaty would be concluded by resolving the issue of the attribution of the four islands. Having said that, it is true that the economic collaboration proposed by the Prime Minister is also important for Japan, and therefore, discussion took place to the effect that the two countries would cooperate economically in areas where mutual cooperation is possible. In addition, the two leaders held candid exchanges of views regarding the international situation, including Ukraine, North Korea, terrorism, and Syria. I understand that Prime Minister Abe underlined the need for Russia, a key player in the international community, to play a constructive role.


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