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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 13, 2017 (PM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Q&As

REPORTER: In the small-size summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Duterte of the Philippines, President Duterte apparently noted the importance of the alliance between the United States and the Philippines. Compared to the earlier stance taken by the President, which sought to distance himself from the United States, this most recent statement would appear to demonstrate that relations are improving between the Philippines and the United States. What is the Government of Japan’s evaluation of the Philippines’ stance with regard to U.S. relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe and President Duterte held a summit meeting in which President Duterte noted the importance of the U.S.-Philippines alliance and indicated that the Government of the Philippines will maintain its cooperation with the United States. The Government of Japan considers it to be of importance for the stability and prosperity of the region for the United States—an ally of both Japan and the Philippines—to continue to take an interest and maintain its engagement with regional affairs. Therefore the Government will continue to cooperate fully and closely with the Government of the Philippines.

REPORTER: In the meeting Prime Minister Abe noted the vital importance of U.S. commitment in order to ensure the peace and prosperity of Asia. How will the Prime Minister utilize the outcomes of this summit meeting with President Duterte in a Japan-U.S. summit meeting with President-elect Trump, which is expected to be held in the near future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in the recent Japan-Philippines summit meeting Prime Minister Abe announced that Japan would strengthen support in areas currently being prioritized by the Duterte administration and would also cooperate with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which the Philippines currently holds the presidency. It was also an extremely significant meeting in that the leaders shared their views on the regional and international situation, including the issue of the South China Sea, and confirmed that they will work together going forward. With regard to a meeting between the Prime Minister and President-elect Trump, in the informal meeting that was held in November last year the Prime Minister and President-elect Trump agreed that they would meet again at the earliest opportunity following Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Although no date for the meeting has been confirmed, the Government is seeking to arrange a meeting at the earliest possible timing.

REPORTER: I have a related question concerning Japan-U.S. relations. The new Trump administration will be inaugurated on January 20. Can you tell us once again what kind of relationship the Government of Japan seeks to build with the new administration in areas such as diplomacy and security?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region is further increasing in severity. This is something about which you are all aware. It is against this backdrop that the Japan-U.S. alliance plays a vital role as a cornerstone for the peace and prosperity of the region. The Government seeks to work with the administration of President-elect Trump to further strengthen the unwavering Japan-U.S. alliance. Our aim is to further enhance the existing bonds between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: I have a related question, concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. President-elect Trump has consistently stated his opposition to the TPP, while Mr. Rex Tillerson, the nominee for Secretary of State of the United States has been more positive about the TPP in his statements. The situation seems to have changed since the immediate aftermath of the election of Mr. Trump. What is the Government’s analysis with regard to the position of the United States on the TPP and how does the Government intend to encourage the United States to join the TPP?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Various statements have begun to be made by persons who are expected to serve in economy-related cabinet positions in the administration of President-elect Trump. However, as the administration has yet to be inaugurated I would like to refrain from commenting on these various statements. What I would say is that the TPP is of the utmost importance for achieving regional stability in that it would further enhance economic ties in the region among countries that share the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law and broaden their network. In that sense, the Government will continue to use various opportunities to emphasize the high strategic and economic significance of the TPP Agreement.

REPORTER: This will be the first time for a Republican administration to take the helm of the Government of the United States in eight years, so what impact do you think the transition of power from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party will have on Japan-U.S. relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As there is no change to our shared fundamental values of freedom, democracy, respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law, there will be no fundamental change to the relationship following the transition from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

REPORTER: In your previous response you indicated your recognition that the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region is further increasing in its severity. Already this year for example, there have been repeated movements by Chinese vessels and aircraft. Press reports suggested last year that Chinese vessels made a circumnavigation of the Japanese archipelago. With regard to Japan’s five specified straits for international navigation, for example, under the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone these areas have territorial waters limited to three nautical miles. In view of the situation, I imagine that Japan also has the option of reviewing this and developing its defense structure by expanding territorial waters in these areas to 12 nautical miles in principle. What are your views on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly engaged in thorough monitoring and surveillance of aviation and maritime matters, including issues relating to neighboring countries, such as China, which you just mentioned, and the Self-Defense Forces are able to respond to and are actually engaging in responses to such matters. Given that last year North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and launched more than 20 missiles, the Government is engaged in round-the-clock monitoring and surveillance 365 days a year to ensure that we can fulfil our responsibility to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan. There is absolutely no change to the Government’s determination to resolutely protect our territorial land, waters and airspace. We will take steady responses in accordance with international law and the Self-Defense Forces Act.

REPORTER: The Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone was established in an era in which the United States was the major power and the three nautical mile limit on Japan’s international straits was designated in view of the possibility that a U.S. vessel carrying nuclear weapons may pass through these straits. Considerable time has passed since the establishment of the convention and the situation has also changed, so do you think there is a possibility that the Government will seek to engage in a review of the scope of territorial waters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the current time there are no such plans. 

(Abridged)

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