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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 9, 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 have a question about the Japan-U.S. summit meeting. A controversy has arisen in the United States about who paid for Prime Minister Abe's stay at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. At present it seems that it was a personal gift from the President and there is no intention of receiving payment from Japan, but could you tell us the Japanese Government's view on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The event in Florida is an extremely important one for building and deepening the personal relationship of trust between the two leaders. As for the expense, if reports in the United States say that is what President Trump said, then that is probably true. In any case, I do not believe the details have been set at this point.

REPORTER: Today is one month since the Government recalled Japan’s Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, so could you restate the Government's thinking about when the Ambassador will be sent back?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have commented on this numerous times, and there are no plans to send back the Ambassador and Consul General. The Government will make a decision based on the various circumstances. There is no change to this.

REPORTER: Meanwhile, although the ROK is an important neighbor, the Ambassador has now been absent for a month, so when you consider that, do you believe political ties are positive right now?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We just had a question on this, but undoubtedly Japan and the ROK both think of each other as important trading partners, and in that sense I believe we have an extremely close bilateral economic relationship. Furthermore, when you consider North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles, there is no doubt that the ROK is a country with whom we partner closely. These factors are being taken into account when the relationship is considered as a whole.


REPORTER: I have a question about the daily reports from the South Sudan peacekeeping operations that were found. Today, the Ministry of Defense stated that as of December 26 last year, its understanding was that the reports remained as electronic data. The announcement came on February 6, so this had been concealed for over a month. What are your thoughts about how this information disclosure was handled?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, today the Minister of Defense provided an account at the meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives. She stated that staff should produce reports quickly and that she provided relevant departments with instructions on this point. In any case, there are laws and regulations pertaining to requests for the disclosure of documents produced by government agencies, so naturally the Government must provide appropriate responses in accordance with those rules.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The discovery of the data was reported to Minister Inada on January 27, which was considerably late. Can you comment on this as well?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think it was overly negligent and that the matter was not handled properly. In any case, national civil servants are of course responsible for handling such disclosure requests in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations, and the Minister has stated that when the documents were not yet found she ordered a more thorough search. In any event, the Minister should have been the first person informed when they were discovered. I believe this matter necessitates a strong warning.

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