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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 21, 2017 (AM)

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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 9 general and other measures, draft bills, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement concerning the White Paper on Development Cooperation 2016 .

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the draft bill to amend the Law on Punishment of Organized Crime , which was approved by the Cabinet today. The terminology being used to describe this amendment is the crime of making preparations to commit acts of organized crime, including terrorism, and you have explained in previous press conferences that it is separate from the previously abolished crime of conspiracy. However, opposition parties have observed that the new amendment is tantamount to the crime of conspiracy, so can I ask once again what your view is on the difference between the current draft amendment and the previous crime of conspiracy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, today the Cabinet approved the draft bill, which is for the purpose of enabling Japan to conclude the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime . Considering the global situation relating to terrorism today, and looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in three years' time, the Government considers it necessary to develop a comprehensive legislative structure for preventing organized crime and terrorism. Furthermore, so far 187 countries and regions have signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Japan is the only country among the G7 countries that has not signed the convention. The Government therefore considers it to be a matter of urgency to conclude the convention, which would enable further international cooperation in the fight against organized crime and terrorism. In the course of deliberations in the Diet concerning the draft bill that has been approved by the Cabinet today, various points have been noted, such as that it could be interpreted as applying to organizations engaged in legitimate activities or that it could lead to punishment of intent rather than action . The Government has paid due attention to all such observations and the finalized text of the draft bill makes it clear that organizations covered by the amendment are limited to terrorist or other organized crime groups and do not apply to organizations engaged in legitimate activities, including companies, civic groups and labor unions. Furthermore, with regard to crimes that are subject to punishment, the draft bill also makes clear that it would only constitute a criminal act when, in addition to the act of planning a crime, acts of preparation themselves are made. The draft bill therefore clearly does not stipulate punishment of intent. Punishable crimes are also identified and are limited to 277 specific cases of criminality in which it could be realistically envisaged that organized crime groups would be involved. The Government therefore considers that the draft bill is compiled in a way that allays unease or concerns and it is clearly separate from the previous crime of conspiracy. The Government will make every effort to explain the contents of the draft bill carefully and in a readily comprehensible manner in the forum of the Diet, seeking the understanding of the public about the bill's necessity and importance and also the broad support of not only the ruling parties, but also the opposition parties, as we move to achieve its passage as soon as possible.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea. Combustion tests on engines used in ballistic missiles have been implemented and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and others believe this demonstrates that North Korea has further enhanced its missile technologies. Does the Government of Japan share this recognition?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the reports on this matter. As I have often stated, the Government closely monitors developments related to North Korea with great interest, and we constantly strive to gather and analyze information. However, I would like to refrain from making any comment about specific details due to the nature of the matter. What I would reiterate is that we are monitoring the situation with the greatest interest.

REPORTER: North Korea is once again indicating the possibility that it will launch another ballistic missile, so can I ask for the Government's view on the potential for further provocative actions and what monitoring and surveillance is being implemented?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government continues to cooperate closely with the United States, the ROK and other countries concerned to urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint, and is constantly engaged in cooperative efforts to collect the necessary intelligence. As it is the duty of the Government to protect the lives and properties of the people of Japan from any contingency, the administration is constantly engaged in advanced surveillance, while exerting our full efforts with a sense of urgency to ensure that we are able to carry out the necessary responses to any situation.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the G20. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting ended on March 18 and in the communique that was issued, although the  reference remains to exchange rate policies, the sentence on resisting protectionism  has been deleted. Could I ask for your evaluation of the communique, based on Japan's assertions and stance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The recent G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting was the first to be attended by U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin following the inauguration of the new administration in the United States. Japan contributed actively to discussions in the meeting and we succeeded in affirming the G20's ongoing commitment to macroeconomic and exchange rate policies. In specific terms, the communique reiterated that excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability , which we  believe was an important outcome. Although the communique on this occasion did not include language referring to protectionism, it nonetheless confirmed that G20 nations will work to strengthen the contribution of trade to their economies . In any event, recognition of the importance of free trade, which was incorporated in the language of the communique, is something that was shared by the participating G20 members.

REPORTER: So does the Government consider it to not be a particular problem that there was no reference to resisting protectionism in the communique?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think that there is any problem.

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