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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 26, 2017 (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]


REPORTER: The schedule for the visit to Japan by United States Secretary of Defense Mattis has been formally decided. This is the first overseas visit by a member of the new Trump administration since its inauguration, so what is your analysis of the United States’ aim in selecting Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) for this visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, given that the security environment in the Asia-Pacific is becoming ever more severe, the Japan-U.S. Alliance plays an essential role as a cornerstone for the peace and prosperity of the region. It is against this backdrop that the visit to Asia, including a visit to Japan, by the Secretary of Defense, so soon after the inauguration of the new administration, is of great significance and is welcomed by the Government of Japan.

REPORTER: I have a related question. President Trump has previously voiced the view that the United States should demand that Japan pay a larger burden of the costs related to stationing U.S. Forces in Japan. Will the Government be explaining to the Secretary of Defense that the current share of expenses is appropriate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Defense Minister Inada will naturally be holding a meeting with Secretary Mattis and if such a request is forthcoming from the U.S. side, Minister Inada will properly provide an explanation.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Buddhist statue that was stolen from Kannon-ji Temple in Tsushima City, Nagasaki Prefecture. Today the Daejeon District Court in the ROK issued a ruling that approved the handing over of the statue to a temple in the ROK. What is the Government’s reaction to this court ruling and how will it respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Using diplomatic channels the Government has called on the Government of the ROK at various levels, seeking to realize the return of the statue to Japan without delay, something which has yet to be realized. It is extremely regrettable that a court in the ROK has issued such a ruling and the Government will continue to call on the Government of the ROK for appropriate measures to be taken to achieve the prompt return of the statue.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning bilateral trade negotiations between Japan and the United States. A short while ago in the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister responded to a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and free trade agreements (FTA), noting that while the Government will continue to emphasize the significance of the TPP to the United States, the conclusion of an FTA or economic partnership agreement (EPA) would not be totally out of the question and that the Government seeks to engage in discussions with the United States on what kind of relations would be best for both countries. Does this imply that if the United States were to request bilateral talks on an FTA or EPA, the Government would be willing to engage in negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary I do not have anything further to add to the comments made by the Prime Minister. In any event, what is of the utmost importance is to engage in discussions with the new administration on various levels to assess how to further develop and deepen economic relations between Japan and the United States. That will be the starting point.

REPORTER: I believe that the Government’s stance to date has been to continue to call on the United States to join the TPP. Does the statement by the Prime Minister today indicate a possibility that there may be a change in the existing stance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The stance of the Government is entirely unchanged in that we will continue to focus our efforts on emphasizing the significance of the TPP to the new administration in the United States. However, as a Japan-U.S. summit meeting between the two leaders has yet to be held, and given that President Trump has voiced various ideas, it is also a fact that when talks are actually held a number of opinions may be raised on how to further develop and deepen Japan-U.S. relations. However, there is no change to the Government’s stance and we will continue to staunchly and persistently explain the tremendous significance of the TPP for free trade.

REPORTER: On a related note, it has been reported that final arrangements are being made to hold the Japan-U.S. summit meeting on February 10 in Washington D.C. What is the current status of arrangements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Final arrangements are currently being coordinated. When President Trump and the Prime Minister met last year prior to President Trump’s inauguration, they mutually agreed to hold a summit meeting soon after the President’s inauguration. However, given that the Diet is currently in session, the current situation is that the summit meeting is being coordinated in such a way as to take into account proceedings in the Diet.


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