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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 15, 2017 (AM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question about the killing of Mr. Kim Jong-nam. The Republic of Korea (ROK) government has announced its clear recognition of the killing in Malaysia of the half-brother of Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea. What is the Japanese Government’s perception and reaction?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are of course aware of those reports. The Joint Intelligence Council chaired by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita was held this morning, and is gathering information and conducting analysis in coordination with other related countries. However, due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from commenting on the concrete contents of the information and analysis.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Joint Intelligence Council was held this morning, and I do not think it is held very frequently. What was the goal of holding the Joint Intelligence Council?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I said, it was held by the Government in connection with information regarding the killing of Mr. Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia.


REPORTER: I have a related question. While you wish to refrain from analysis, it appears a North Korean agent was involved. How does the Japanese Government currently view North Korea’s involvement in relation to the incident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We do not wish to refrain from analysis, but rather from commenting on the results of that analysis. Currently the Joint Intelligence Council is being held with the heads of relevant ministries and agencies, the head of the National Security Council, and others.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Earlier you stated that no event has been confirmed that will directly impact the security of Japan, but in response to this incident, has there been any change to Japan’s alertness or surveillance posture toward North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, it is a fact that the Government has always monitored the movements of North Korea with high interest, and devotes itself to vigilance and intelligence gathering. Beyond that I would like to refrain from making any comment.


REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. Yesterday, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) revealed that insufficient seismic resistance was found in the important anti-seismic building in the review to restart Units 6 and 7 of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station. While TEPCO acquired this result in 2014, until now it explained the building was resistant to a seismic intensity 7 earthquake. There is criticism that this posture of concealment, which is absolutely unchanged despite organizational changes and other measures, will inevitably lead to a loss of trust in Japan both domestically and abroad. How do you view the issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, I have received a report from TEPCO that at the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) meeting yesterday, an explanation was made that the important anti-seismic building constructed in 2009 in response to the Niigata Chuetsu-Oki Earthquake may not meet the current standards. The assurance of safety is the top priority in nuclear power generation, and earning the trust of our citizens is extremely important. The Government would like to provide further instructions to TEPCO through the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to firmly respond to the safety review of the Nuclear Regulation Authority and to work on securing the trust of the public.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about the 2017 annual spring wage offensive. Today the automotive and other major labor unions presented their written requests to the management side to begin employer-employee negotiations. What are the Government’s thoughts and expectations on wage increases which support the economy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I am aware that earnest labor and management negotiations will start from now. The Government recognizes this year’s wage increases as the key to a strong continuation of the virtuous economic cycle. As the Prime Minister stated at a meeting last year of the Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform, the highest wage increases since we entered this century have continued for the past three years. At the very least, for the spring wage offensive the Government is expecting wage increases on par with last year, and the realization of the fourth continuous year of base pay increases.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about Toshiba. Toshiba announced yesterday that it would delay the announcement of its financial results by one month due to its U.S. nuclear power business being suspected of a new cause of fraud. Fraudulent accounting cases have been discovered one after another at Toshiba, and as unprecedented incidents continue at companies representing Japan, starting with its investors, distrust of Toshiba’s organizational management is growing in a portion of the public. What is the Government’s perception of the announcement made by Toshiba yesterday?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, in regard to the postponement of the financial results announcement yesterday, as it involves the management of a publicly listed company, I would like to refrain from making a comment. In general, however, it is critical for listed companies to present thorough information, including their relationship with auditors, and I believe this should be carried out appropriately. Furthermore, Toshiba is a firm involved in flash memory, an extremely critical technology in Japan’s growth strategy, and also the domestic nuclear power business, in particular reactor decommissioning and water pollution countermeasures, and therefore the Government will firmly monitor the situation going forward.

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