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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 3, 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: I have a question concerning United States Secretary of Defense Mattis, who is visiting Japan. Secretary Mattis will be meeting with Prime Minister Abe and yourself shortly, so what kind of meeting do you expect it to be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I imagine that the meeting will naturally be one that focuses on general security-related matters. In particular, as the Japan-U.S. Alliance is a cornerstone for Japan’s diplomacy and security, the meeting will include wide-ranging comprehensive discussions on a broad range of issues.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You will also be meeting with Secretary Mattis, so in your capacity as Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa and also as Chief Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters relating to crisis management, what kind of interaction do you expect to have?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I am indeed Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa, I expect that we will discuss matters that include the issue of Okinawa.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations. Regarding the matter of the naming of the statues of girls that symbolize comfort women that have been installed in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul and the consulate general in Busan, there are some people within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who feel that the naming (in Japanese) of the statues should be made consistent as “comfort woman statues.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that it will consider the matter, so can I ask for the current view of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The issue for the Government is these comfort woman statues and I have been using the same (Japanese) phrase to indicate “comfort woman statues.” In a sense, therefore, I think that this naming is very easy to understand.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: I have a further question concerning Japan-ROK relations. As one of the measures taken by the Government to protest the installation of the comfort woman statue in front of the consulate general in Busan, Ambassador Nagamine was temporarily recalled. It is now almost a month since Ambassador Nagamine was recalled, so what is the view of the Government with regard to this extended period of recall?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government will continue to avail itself of all opportunities to request that the Government of the ROK make sincere efforts regarding the issue of the comfort woman statues, based on the Japan-ROK agreement that was reached at the end of 2015.

REPORTER: With regard to the timing of the Ambassador’s return to duty, the Government has stated previously that a decision will be made taking all matters comprehensively into account. What moves on the part of the ROK would result in Japan deciding to return the Ambassador to his duties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, there is absolutely no change to the Government’s previously stated intention of making a decision after having taken various matters comprehensively into account.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to the realignment of U.S. Forces. Last month on January 20 and 27, the region where Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is located was visited by the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense, where they provided detailed explanations about the relocation of carrier-based aircraft from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to Iwakuni. Do you have any plans to visit Iwakuni yourself and exchange opinions with the prefectural governor and mayor of Iwakuni?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: If circumstances permit I plan to visit Iwakuni the day after tomorrow. The final schedule is currently being coordinated.

REPORTER: Will you be meeting with the governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture and the mayor of Iwakuni City?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to meet with the governor and mayor and speaker and vice-speaker of the prefectural assembly.

REPORTER: What kind of matters do you expect to discuss in these meetings?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in order to eliminate the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station, two years ago in-flight refueling aircraft were relocated from Futenma to MCAS Iwakuni. I will be meeting with the governor and mayor to express my appreciation for their cooperation in the relocation of these aircraft, as well as the deployment of the new F-35B fighter aircraft, and also to request understanding and cooperation with regard to the relocation of carrier-based aircraft from Atsugi to MCAS Iwakuni.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: I have a question about the imposition of sanctions on Iran by the United States. It is being widely reported in the U.S. press that in retaliation for Iran’s test launch of a medium-range ballistic missile the Trump administration has decided to impose additional sanctions. I believe that this measure is separate from the agreement to alleviate sanctions on Iran following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear issue and it is anticipated that this move may ratchet up bilateral tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Can I ask for the view of the Government on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the press reports concerning this matter. The Government will carefully monitor the situation, including the specific response of the United States, and will continue to call on Iran to play a constructive role towards peace and stability in the region and the international community.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the upcoming visit to the United States by Prime Minister Abe on February 10. It has been reported in the press that on this visit the Prime Minister will propose a Japan-U.S. growth and employment initiative. Also, in responses to questions in the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives on January 30, the Prime Minister noted that the Government will create a win-win relationship with the United States that would boost employment in the United States and also benefit Japan. The Prime Minister did not directly mention any specific effects of such an initiative for Japan, so is it the assumption that improving the situation in the United States will ultimately bring positive benefits for Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, there is no specifically titled initiative. What the Prime Minister stated in his responses to the Diet is that it is of the utmost importance to create a win-win relationship between Japan and the United States. President Trump has mentioned infrastructure development in particular, and in that sense, as Japan is already involved in or advancing construction projects utilizing Shinkansen technology in the United States, it is likely that Japan would seek to respond in such areas.

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