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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 18, 2016 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 22 general and other measures, draft bills, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding North Korea. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a statement to the press strongly condemning the failed ballistic missile launch conducted by North Korea on the 15th, stating that it is in grave violation of relevant UNSC resolutions. Can you please share the comments of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, in the early hours of Tuesday, the 18th, JST, the UNSC issued a press statement which strongly condemns the ballistic missile launch conducted by North Korea on October 15, and which reaffirms that North Korea shall refrain from further violations of relevant UNSC resolutions and comply fully with its obligations under these resolutions. The statement demonstrates the unanimous stance of the UNSC that North Korea’s repeated launches would not be tolerated. Japan, while continuing to work closely with the United States and the Republic of Korea, will continue to coordinate closely with relevant countries towards the adoption of a new UNSC resolution that includes further sanctions.

REPORTER: The latest statement expresses serious concern that North Korea repeated missile launches and nuclear tests since April in disregard of the series of UNSC statements. As you just referred to, the international community is aiming to adopt a new resolution. What responses does the Japanese Government think need to be taken to counter the reality of unending North Korean provocations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Japanese Government considers that the UNSC is one of the most effective fora for the international community to send out a strong message to and impose sanctions on North Korea. In this context, UNSC resolutions are adopted. At this point in time, we have not yet compiled the sanctions resolution. However, stronger sanctions should be imposed in response to the recent launch. To this end, Japan will continue to work with the relevant countries. First, it is important that the respective members steadily abide by the provisions of the resolutions, in accordance with the resolutions. We believe failure to do so is causing the difference between the resolutions’ intended outcomes and the actual situation in North Korea. We are making earnest efforts to ensure that they will be in alignment.

REPORTER: It has been reported that at least 60 people have died due to armed confrontations between government and anti-government forces in South Sudan, where Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) is engaged in the PKO operations of the United Nations (UN). At your recent press conference, you stated that the situation is calm in the GSDF’s area of operation from what you have been briefed. What is your understanding of the current security situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, with regard to what you just stated, the Government is aware that confrontations took place in the outskirts of the northeastern area. We are of the understanding that the situation in the capital city of Juba where the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is operating is relatively calm at this point in time. In any case, Japan will continue to closely monitor the local situation with a sense of urgency.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I believe this has been asked before. I understand that the Government will be making a decision as to when to assign “kaketsuke-keigo” (coming to the aid of geographically distant unit or personnel under attack) in relation to the PKO operations in South Sudan. Do you know by around when you will be making this decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, the SDF is currently undergoing the necessary training for the new tasks such as kaketsuke-keigo. As for whether or not any tasks will be assigned to the units dispatched for the PKO in South Sudan, we will make a comprehensive judgment based on a careful review of the local situation and the progress of the trainings.

REPORTER: Tomorrow, the 19th, will mark the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of the Joint Declaration by Japan and the USSR that restored diplomatic relations between Japan and the former Soviet Union. Can you once again explain how Japan construes the significance of the Japan-USSR Joint Declaration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government considers the Japan-USSR Joint Declaration to be a basic legal document that restored diplomatic relations between Japan and the Soviet Union, and that subsequently established a starting point for the negotiation regarding the conclusion of the peace treaty. A peace treaty has still not been concluded after 60 years since the signing of this declaration. Against this backdrop, we perceive that the anniversary provides a good opportunity to reaffirm the importance of solving the Northern Territories issue. The Government will continue to negotiate persistently with Russia based on our basic policy of concluding a peace treaty by solving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the abdication of His Majesty the Emperor. Some media outlets reported today that the Government expects His Majesty’s abdication in 2018. Is this true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, although it was reported that the Government has this expectation, there is no truth to this at all.

REPORTER: A related question. In the message, His Majesty stated that in two years we will be welcoming the 30th year of Heisei, which is 2018. How does the Government interpret this remark? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, this is a vital issue that concerns the foundation of our state. In this regard, rather than working around a preset schedule, we would like to first calmly advance discussions while fully listening to the views of people with a variety of expertise. Once the discussions point us in a certain direction, the Government will take this into account in steadily addressing this matter.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the gross domestic product (GDP) that the UN presents as an international standard. I understand that a new GDP figure based on a new calculation method will be announced in December. This new standard is expected to raise the GDP by 1% to 4%. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party’s project team for the review of new economic indicators, Minister in charge of Administrative Reform, and others have questioned the GDP calculation method. Can you please share your views regarding the growing momentum to revise economic statistics including GDP?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, the GDP statistics were revised due to the UN’s introduction of its 2008 standard, among other reasons. As a result, changes were made, including the listing of R&D investment in investment. Against this backdrop, we have released preliminary estimates showing that the 2011 nominal GDP will increase by 19.8 trillion yen. All the revised values for GDP will be released at the end of the year. With regard to the revision of the economic statistics, the Cabinet Office is working to improve the GDP and other statistics to make a more accurate judgment diagnosis, based on the Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform 2016. A study group on improving economic statistics for making a more accurate judgment diagnosis has been established, which is now conducting reviews towards compiling a Government policy in the end of the year. We are aware that the study group that Minister Yamamoto takes part in as well as the LDP Project Team, which you mentioned, as well as others have various opinions regarding the calculation method. Bearing in mind these opinions from various circles, it is critically important that Government-wide efforts be made to increase the reliability of statistics for their further improvement, including improving GDP statistics that show the overall picture of the economy. Therefore, the Government is committed to making these efforts.

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