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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 28, 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)

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination . In a speech  given at U.N. Headquarters, Ambassador Takamizawa, Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, has stated that Japan will not participate in negotiations at this conference. Can I ask about the background that has led to the Government making this decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To achieve a world free of nuclear weapons naturally requires the cooperation of nuclear-weapon states. Despite this necessity, the conference that you mention has not gained the involvement or participation of the five nuclear-weapon states, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China. The Government has determined that to engage in negotiations under such an environment would not only fail to contribute to the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons, it could further exacerbate confrontation between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states, thus pushing the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons further away. It is for this reason, and after having taken matters into comprehensive consideration, that the Government decided to attend the high-level meeting held in the early hours of this morning, Japan time, where a Government representative stated Japan's concepts on this matter and announced that Japan would not participate in future negotiations. Toward the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons, what is essential is to pursue practical and effective measures with the engagement of both nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon states, as Japan has consistently maintained . As the only country to have experienced the devastation of the war-time use of nuclear weapon s, the Government of Japan will continue to take the lead in international efforts toward the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.

REPORTER: You have just stated that it is essential to pursue practical and effective measures and yet organizations that represent the atomic bomb survivors have been persistently calling on the Government to participate in the negotiations. What measures does the Government intend to advance toward the elimination of nuclear weapons in a way that would gain the understanding of atomic bomb survivor groups and similar organizations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already stated, the Government naturally seeks to realize a world free of nuclear weapons. However, the Government is concerned that this conference could push the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons further away, in the sense that it could further exacerbate confrontation between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states. Japan has consistently advocated that it is essential to build up practical and concrete measures on the basis of cooperation between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, while not losing sight of a clear recognition of the humanitarian aspects of the use of nuclear weapons and an objective assessment of the severe international security environment.  As the only country to have experienced the devastation of the war-time use of nuclear weapons, the Government believes that toward the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons, it is important to make steady progress toward disarmament with the engagement of both nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon states. We will continue to work actively through various frameworks and in various areas, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), toward the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.

REPORTER: I have a question about a lawsuit in the United States concerning the issue of a comfort woman statue. On March 27, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal brought by a group of residents of Japanese descent concerning a lawsuit that called for the removal of a comfort woman statue located in Glendale, California. The Government of Japan had presented its opinions to the U.S. Supreme Court, requesting that the appeal be heard, so can I ask for a comment concerning this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I understand that the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court concerned the point as to whether the statue in Glendale infringed the federal government's ability to conduct foreign affairs and it was not related to the issue of the comfort woman statue. Whatever the case, moves to install comfort woman statues are incompatible with the Government of Japan's stance and as such the decision is most regrettable. It is from such a perspective that the Government has to date provided appropriate explanations to various persons concerned, seeking their understanding for the Government's basic position and efforts relating to the comfort women issue. We will continue to engage in such efforts.

REPORTER: With regard to the recent visit to Taiwan by Mr. Jiro Akama, State Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications , yesterday the spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that this visit breaches the commitment made by Japan to interact with Taiwan only at non-governmental and local levels . Can I ask for a comment from the Government concerning this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: During the weekend, State Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Akama visited Taiwan to attend the opening ceremony for a project organized by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association  to support the overseas promotion of the attractions of local regions in Japan. Taiwan is Japan's key partner and an important friend with which we have close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges . As such, it was of great significance from the perspective of deepening such economic ties and people-to-people exchanges that the State Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications was dispatched to Taiwan, where he engaged in active efforts to promote the appeal of Japanese regions, including food products, Japanese sake, local crafts, and tourist sites, seeking to deepen the understanding of a broad range of people in Taiwan. The Government will make efforts to further deepen bilateral cooperation and exchanges, based on the position of maintaining non-governmental, working-level relations with Taiwan .

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