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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 23, 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 about Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se has sent a document to the municipal government that erected the comfort woman statue in Busan indicating that it is necessary for the two sides to hold an exchange of views. How does the Japanese Government view the developments on the ROK side?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, above all, it is important that the Japan-ROK agreement reached in 2015 is implemented with a sense of responsibility. The ROK Government has also continued to state clearly that there is no change in its stance of steadily implementing the agreement. Japan will continue to make use of all opportunities to persistently request that the ROK side steadily implement the agreement, including the issue of the comfort woman statue.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The latest development could be deemed a concrete step towards removing the statue. Will it be considered when deciding the time when the Japanese Ambassador to the ROK will return to his post?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, the Government will make a comprehensive decision based on multiple factors.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject, and ask about Japan-Russia relations. Russia’s TASS news agency has reported that the Russian Minister of Defense has announced his intention to newly deploy a division to the Kuril Islands, including part of the Northern Territories, sometime this year. How does the Government perceive this, and what is its response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are closely monitoring Russian movements in the Northern Territories. We are currently gathering information in response to the recent statement. Furthermore, on the 22nd and 23rd, we made a protest through diplomatic channels, including high-level channels, expressing that if this is an action by the Russian military to militarize the Four Northern Islands, it is incompatible with Japan’s position, which is that the Four Northern Islands are the inherent territories of Japan, and is regrettable.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Until now, Russia has taken steps to militarize the Northern Territories, such as deploying land-to-sea missiles on the Kunashiri and Etorofu islands. What impact do you believe this series of developments has on the Japan-Russia territorial negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, in order to fundamentally solve these problems, it is necessary to resolve the Northern Territory issue itself. Therefore, I believe we must come up with a resolution that is mutually acceptable, and continue to persistently engage in negotiations.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Next month, a 2-plus-2 meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Russia is planned. Will this incident be discussed on that occasion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, I think it is a matter of course that it will be discussed.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. In the Japan-Russia summit meeting last December, both leaders stated their serious determination to resolve the issue of the peace treaty. What are the Government’s thoughts on the recent series of developments by Russia and its consistency with that serious determination?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, we are currently gathering information and conducting analysis in response to the recent statement and developments.


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