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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 24, 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

(Abridged)

With regard to the Self-Defense Force (SDF) unit deployed to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), at the recent National Security Council (NSC) meeting it was decided that the engineering unit will end its activities in and around the end of May this year and that Japan will continue to deploy SDF personnel to serve in the Headquarters of UNMISS. Given that under current Implementation Plans for the International Peace Cooperation Assignment for UNMISS  the dispatch of the unit is scheduled until March 31 this year, in today's NSC meeting and also in the Cabinet meeting it was decided to revise the implementation plans, extending the period of dispatch for the engineering unit until May 31, and the dispatch of personnel to UNMISS Headquarters until February 28, 2018. The Government will continue to make as great a contribution as possible, including through the enhancement of humanitarian assistance, for the peace and development of South Sudan.

(Abridged)

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. Mr. William Hagerty  has been nominated as the new United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Japan. The new ambassador is said to be close to President Trump and also has previous experience living in Tokyo. What role do you expect the new ambassador will play?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that President Trump has nominated Mr. William Hagerty to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan. This nomination will require the approval of Congress. We understand that Mr. Hagerty was responsible for overseeing cabinet-level appointments in President Trump's transition team and is extremely well trusted by the President, and that he has previous experience living in Japan. The Government welcomes his nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Following Mr. Hagerty's confirmation as ambassador by Congress, the Government looks forward to him taking up his duties in Japan and working together to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Some people are of the view that Mr. Hagerty will play a substantial negotiator role relating to trade and commerce policies. What is your view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, given that Mr. Hagerty was responsible for overseeing cabinet-level personnel-related matters in the transition team of President Trump we perceive that he has a great deal of political experience and the Government has high expectations for the further development of Japan-U.S. relations under his tenure as ambassador.

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. The U.S. media are reporting that U.S. authorities think that North Korea may implement a nuclear test before the end of the month. What is the Japanese Government's analysis of such moves by North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I always say, the Government constantly strives to gather and analyze information regarding the nuclear and missile-related situation in North Korea with great interest. I would like to refrain from making any comment about each specific detail and analysis due to the nature of the matter. Whatever the case, we will make every effort to take the necessary responses, including collecting information and engaging in surveillance and monitoring with a sense of urgency.

REPORTER: I have one more related question. If North Korea were to go ahead with a nuclear test it is likely that the United States would further harden its stance against the country. What stance is the Government of Japan contemplating in order to deter North Korea from implementing such a test?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally we will continue to engage in diplomatic efforts in the forum of the United Nations Security Council to deter such a test, working with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and also with China and Russia, among others.

REPORTER: My question regards a different matter. I have a question concerning the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination , which will convene at the United Nations from March 27. Following the Cabinet meeting Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida stated that final coordination is underway to determine whether Japan will participate in the conference or not. Many of the victims of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are calling for Japan to participate in negotiations. Could you tell us the reason why a decision on participation is being left to the last minute, when the conference is commencing at the beginning of next week, and the Government's thinking on the negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The situation is as the Foreign Minister explained in his press conference. In any case, the Government is currently engaged in comprehensive considerations with regard to this matter.

REPORTER: The United States is said to be against Japan participating in negotiations. Is that also a factor for the lateness of the decision on whether to participate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are comprehensively considering the matter.

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