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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 21, 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 13 general and other measures, a cabinet order, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement concerning an emergency grant aid in response to the Hurricane “Matthew” disaster in the Republic of Haiti.

At today’s Cabinet meeting, the Cabinet approved the invitation for an Official Visit to Japan of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, from November 1 to 5 and of Dr. Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, from November 14 to 18. During the State Counsellor’s stay in Japan, she will be received in audience by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. In addition, Prime Minister Abe will hold a meeting with the State Counsellor and host a dinner in her honor. The visit to Japan by the State Counsellor will further deepen the historically friendly relations between Myanmar and Japan. During President Gauck’s stay in Japan, the President will make a State Call on Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. In addition, Prime Minister Abe will hold a meeting with the President and host a dinner in his honor. Japan hopes that the President’s visit to Japan will further deepen the friendly and cooperative relations that have been forged between the two countries. This visit will also provide an opportunity for Japan and Germany to send out a message that the two countries, as partners sharing fundamental values, will proactively contribute to regional and international peace and prosperity into the future.


REPORTER: President Duterte of the Philippines stated in Beijing that his country would break away from the United States. The President made clear his stance of attaching greater importance to relations with China than to relations with the United States. What is your analysis of the true intentions behind the President’s remark and its impact on Japan?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, we are of course aware that a summit meeting took place between the President of the Philippines and the President of China. The Government deems that it is not appropriate to comment on every diplomatic activity between third countries. As you stated, President Duterte will visit Japan next week. Japan will take this opportunity to further deepen the strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines. In any case, the issue of the South China Sea is directly linked to the peace and stability of the region, and is a matter of concern to the international community including Japan. Japan has consistently supported upholding the rule of law in the South China Sea. In this regard, Japan will strengthen its collaboration with relevant countries and pursue the peaceful settlement of the issue through diplomacy.   

REPORTER: I have a related question. Based on his remark alone, it seems that President Duterte intends to close the distance between the Philippines and China while keeping a distance from the United States. This could cause the power balance in the region to collapse. Does the Japanese Government have any concerns over the impacts this will have?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is of course gathering information on exactly how and in what manner the remark was made at the summit meeting. However, the Government deems that it should refrain from giving responses on every diplomatic activity between third countries.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the deliberations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Today, an interpellation session will be held with expert witnesses at the House of Representatives. These sessions are being conducted in the absence of the Democratic Party and other parties. In addition, it is expected that the regional hearing on the 24th will be postponed. It was furthermore decided that a plenary session of the House of Representatives would not be held today to explain the purpose of the pension system reform bill and so on. How do you intend to achieve a breakthrough in this situation? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Diet affairs are to be decided by the Diet. Therefore, the Government would like to refrain from making comments. The bottom line is that the Government will provide careful explanations with a sense of vigilance to be able to swiftly proceed with the deliberations.

REPORTER: My question is related to the previous question. I gather that the ruling parties aim to have the TPP legislation passed by the House of Representatives by the end of this month. As things currently stand, what is the feasibility of realizing this goal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated, Diet affairs are left up to the Diet, and the Government is working closely with the ruling parties. In any case, the Government considers that the TPP Agreement is critically important for the growth strategy of Japan, and the TPP Agreement and relevant legislation need to be passed as quickly as possible in order for its effects to be swiftly manifested. The Government will coordinate with the ruling parties so that the deliberations proceed swiftly. Diet affairs will be decided by the Diet.

REPORTER: I have a question in connection with the PKO activities of the Self-Defense Forces in South Sudan. Some media outlets have reported that in mid-November, the Cabinet will approve an implementation plan to assign the new “kaketsuke-keigo” (coming to the aid of geographically distant units or personnel under attack) duty to the units that will be dispatched. What is the current status of the arrangements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are in the process of reviewing whether or not any tasks would be assigned to the units to be dispatched for PKO in South Sudan, by making comprehensive considerations based on the local situation and the progress of the trainings. Nothing has been decided at this time, including the timing of the Cabinet decision.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question. Does the Government perceive that the environment is set for assigning the kaketsuke-keigo duty if there is no significant deterioration of the security situation in South Sudan? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated, we are in the process of making comprehensive considerations based on the local situation and the progress of the trainings.

REPORTER: In China, a Japanese man who received the death penalty on drug-related charges was reportedly executed. Can you please share the comment of the Government? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: According to the report from the Japanese Consulate-General in Guangzhou, the Dongguan Intermediate People’s Court informed the Consulate-General that in the afternoon of the 20th, the death sentence of a Japanese inmate on death row for drug trafficking was carried out. We consider that the issue of what punishments countries impose on which crimes is a domestic matter, which as a rule should be decided by the respective countries based on the crime situation of their countries, their penal policy, among other factors. However, the Government has communicated to China that Japan pays close attention to death sentences rendered by China against Japanese nationals, including this case in question, from the perspective of the public sentiment in Japan and protecting Japanese nationals. Drug offenses are extremely serious crimes not only for Japan but also for the international community. To combat these crimes, we understand that many countries impose very heavy sentences, including the death sentence. The Government will continue to raise awareness to ensure that Japanese nationals do not engage in and do not become involved in such crimes.      

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