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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 22, 2017 (PM)

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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 about the issue of the land sale for the incorporated educational institution Moritomo Gakuen in Osaka. The opposition party is raising questions in the Diet that there may have been political pressure behind the sale, which was made below the appraisal price. What response will the Government make?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is stipulated that state-owned property must be disposed of in an appropriate manner, and therefore I believe the property was disposed of at a market price based on those principles. The property in question was confirmed to have scrap materials and household waste buried deep in the earth over a wide area, and therefore the price reflected removal expenses that were calculated based on official and estimated levels. The property was disposed of in a lawful and appropriate manner at a sale price set through the real estate appraisal price.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about the issue of abductions of citizens by North Korea. The Prime Minister met with the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN), and received a request from the AFVKN to set a deadline and realize the rescue of all abductees within this year. How does the Government intend to respond to this request?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as the many years pass since the abductions occurred, in addition to the abductees themselves, their families have also aged year by year to become elderly. We keenly understand their urgent feelings that no delays can be accepted. Based on the principles of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action,” the Government will continue to demand the fulfillment of the Stockholm Agreement to North Korea, and devote all its strength to realizing the return of all the abductees as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: The demand to set a deadline for the response is a fundamental objective decided by the AFVKN. What are the Government’s thoughts on setting a deadline for rescuing the abductees?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As many years have passed since the abductions, the Government recognizes that the request represents the urgent, sincere feelings of the families that no delays can be accepted. We will naturally firmly respond to those feelings, and there is no change to our intention to firmly pursue initiatives as a top priority issue of the Abe administration.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In response to the repeated ballistic missile launches and other actions by North Korea, the movement to strengthen sanctions has continued as a policy toward North Korea. The Government is seeking to use dialogue and pressure in the resolution of the abduction issue, but with the pressure already strengthened to an extremely high degree, how does the Government wish to proceed with dialogue alongside it?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s fundamental policy regarding the issues of North Korea is to seek comprehensive resolution of the outstanding problems of the abductions, nuclear weapons, and missiles. There is not the slightest tremor in that policy. Furthermore, the abduction issue is of the utmost importance to the Abe Cabinet, and we are pursuing initiatives with all our strength toward an early resolution.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about Takeshima Day. In response to Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office Mutai being dispatched to the Takeshima Day ceremony, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Deputy Chief of Mission Suzuki of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and issued a strong protest. What is your perception of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that a protest was received in response to the Takeshima Day ceremony being held by Shimane Prefecture, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office Mutai attending the ceremony. In response, Japan made an argument to the effect that in view of the Japanese Government’s position on the Takeshima issue, we cannot accept the ROK protest. The Takeshima issue is not one that can be solved in a day and a night, and we would like to firmly indicate to the ROK that unacceptable matters cannot be accepted, and respond in a level-headed and resolute manner that puts everything in perspective.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question. Currently, the North Korea issue is a diplomatic and security issue for Japan. What sort of relationship do you believe should be built up with the ROK regarding diplomacy and security in response to the North Korea issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, as I have just stated, in regard to territorial issues, Japan will strongly emphasize that it cannot accept unacceptable matters, and at the same time the three countries of Japan, the U.S., and the ROK will join together to present a resolute posture to North Korea regarding the nuclear weapon and missile issues, and take a leadership role in the international community. Japan, the U.S., and the ROK will closely cooperate to strongly demand North Korea refrain from provocative acts, and that it comply with the UN Security Council resolutions. This was confirmed in the recent Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting.

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