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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 9, 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 have a question related to Japan-U.S. relations. Prime Minister Abe departed for the United States today and will have his first summit meeting with President Trump of the United States. What results do you think the Prime Minister would like to achieve from this visit to the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region growing ever more severe, it is extremely important that we make it clear both internally and externally that the Japan-U.S. Alliance is unwavering. This will be the biggest theme of the Japan-U.S. summit meeting. In addition, the Prime Minister wishes to engage in a frank exchange of opinions through this summit meeting, while at the same time building a firm, personal relationship with President Trump based on trust and further strengthening the unwavering bond of the Japan-US Alliance.

REPORTER: So far you have mostly commented on security, but as for economics, President Trump's critical remarks about trade with Japan have been particularly conspicuous. Do you think this meeting will confirm that Japan and the United States will work toward building win-win economic relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, nothing at present has been decided concerning the details of the discussions during the Japan-US summit meeting. However, in the summit meeting it will be important to carry out constructive discussions on building win-win economic relations through further deepening of the Japan-U.S. economic relationship and collaboration.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. Yesterday, Minister of Defense Inada answered questions from opposition party members about the daily reports from the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) personnel involved in the peacekeeping operations in South Sudan. There is growing criticism of her reference to “armed clashes,” as she seems to be avoiding words that are problematic under Article 9 of the Constitution. Could you tell us again whether the government considers these remarks by Minister Inada a problem?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the Budget Committee meeting yesterday, the Minister of Defense stated that at the time the reports were written, there was no combat in a legal sense in South Sudan. In other words, there were no acts as part of an international armed conflict by which people were killed or injured or property was destroyed. Therefore, she referred to what was happening in South Sudan as armed clashes, and we understand that she explained this point repeatedly.

REPORTER: I have a related question. There has been criticism suggesting that the word "combat" has been replaced with the phrase "armed clash" in order to maintain the five principles for Japan’s participation in peacekeeping operations. What is the Government's view of this criticism?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that is correct. As I just stated, the legal definition of “combat” is premised on the occurrence of violence as part of an international armed conflict. This was not happening, so there should not be any problem whatsoever.


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