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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 31, 2017 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

From August 6-9, H.E. Mr. Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, will pay an official working visit to Japan. During Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit, Prime Minister Abe will hold a meeting with him and exchange opinions on the Japan-Cambodia bilateral relationship and regional circumstances, and a dinner banquet is also planned. Japan and Cambodia are promoting their cooperative relationship as “Strategic Partners,” and I believe this visit to Japan by Prime Minister Hun Sen will contribute to further development of the friendly relationship between our two countries.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about the telephone talk between Japan and the U.S. The meeting was realized soon after the missile launch by North Korea on July 28, and was a long meeting of 52 minutes. Can you please give your evaluation of this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From 8:05 a.m. today for approximately 52 minutes, Prime Minister Abe and President Trump held a telephone talk, marking the 8th telephone talk between the two leaders. Prime Minister Abe stated that the threat of North Korea to both Japan and the U.S. has risen dramatically with the launch of an ICBM-class missile on late July 28, and that these acts of provocation are completely unacceptable. He stated that President Trump’s immediate statement that the U.S. will take all necessary measures to protect its allies in the region was tremendously heartening, and showed his gratitude for the statement. In response, President Trump stated that he was in complete agreement with Prime Minister Abe’s statements. He also stated that he and Prime Minister Abe, as well as Japan and the U.S., are strong partners, and that the U.S.’s commitment to Japan’s defense is ironclad. Furthermore, both leaders confirmed close Japan-U.S. cooperation, as well as Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation, toward the adoption of new United Nations Security Council Resolutions that include strict measures, and to encourage the involvement of China and Russia. This extremely wide-ranging and in-depth interaction between the two leaders regarding policy on North Korea, which occurred soon after North Korea’s launch of an ICBM-class missile, was an extremely significant telephone discussion, both from the standpoint of demonstrating the strong solidarity between Japan and the U.S. domestically and to the world, and also from the perspective of the discussion content.

REPORTER: I have a related question. President Trump posted on Twitter that he was very disappointed in China, and it has been indicated that the Prime Minister also read this post during the telephone talk. Does the Japanese side also have the same perception of disappointment regarding China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan considers the role played by China to be extremely important since China accounts for approximately 90% of North Korea's foreign trade. With the U.S., the ROK, and others in arenas that include the United Nations, Japan will urge related countries such as China and Russia to play a larger role, increase pressure, and strongly request concrete actions to resolve the various outstanding issues.  

REPORTER: I have a related question. In a press occasion held after the telephone talk, Prime Minister Abe stated there was absolute agreement with President Trump on the recognition that further action must be taken. From the Japan side, what sort of initiatives will be advanced toward further action?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, President Trump stated in the telephone talk that the commitment of the U.S. to the defense of Japan is ironclad, and both leaders shared the recognition that further action must be taken in response to North Korea, which is unilaterally escalating the situation despite the efforts of the international community. I would like to refrain from commenting on the content of the further action as it would reveal our hand to North Korea. In any event, Japan, the U.S., and the ROK will closely cooperate in the response to the North Korea issue.

REPORTER: I have one more related question. In the explanation provided by the Japanese side of the recent telephone talk, it was explained that recognition was shared that it is time for the sanctions of the UN to be implemented as clear actions. Does Japan have the perception that there are countries not taking clear action despite the repeated sanctions of the UN thus far?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Through Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation as well as cooperation with other related countries, Japan will request China and Russia to play an even greater role, while increasing pressure on North Korea and devoting its utmost efforts to the resolution of the various outstanding issues. There is absolutely no change in that thinking.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In regard to Prime Minister Abe’s statement on further action, does this indicate mainly that there will be further promotion of military exercises, or was it made with economic sanctions in mind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, I would like to refrain from commenting on the concrete details of the further action as doing so would reveal our hand to North Korea.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Regarding telephone talks, is a Japan-ROK telephone talk being considered with President Moon Jae-in of the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the present time, there has been no decision on this. In any event, a telephone talk took place between the foreign ministers of Japan and the ROK on July 29. We will monitor the information going forward and respond as necessary.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In response to the recent incident, it appears that the U.S. side is not considering requesting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Will Japan make the same response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I believe it is extremely important that Japan strengthen its appeals to countries that have influence over North Korea, such as China and Russia, while keeping close Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation. In any event, Japan will firmly undertake initiatives while watching the UN Security Council as a whole and closely cooperating with the related countries.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Regarding appealing to Russia and China with the Japan-U.S. cooperation you just mentioned, I believe you have done so continuously until now, but even so the provocative acts still have not stopped. Does the Government consider it difficult to stop provocative acts if the current situation remains unchanged?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding that point and in that meaning, in the recent telephone talk, both leaders were in agreement on the necessity of an approach with further action, as North Korea is steadily escalating the situation despite the UN Security Council Resolutions and sanctions. There is a committee within the UN Security Council to monitor whether the sanctions are being implemented, and I believe it is extremely important to truly implement what has been decided.

REPORTER: I have a related question. According to the explanation in the recent brief from the Japanese side, awareness was shared of the issue that Resolutions have been passed only to have nothing change. Does this mean there was shared recognition that there are countries that have not sufficiently carried out the sanctions of the UN Security Council Resolutions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The UN Security Council has repeatedly adopted Resolutions through to today, but amidst this North Korea has continued to escalate the situation. In that context, as a committee monitoring implementation exists within the Security Council, it is important to carry out a careful investigation of whether the Resolutions are being enforced, and take every possible measure to appeal to countries that have not implemented the Resolutions.

REPORTER: Regarding the appeals to China and Russia, in concrete terms what appeals will be made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, China and Russia are members of the Six-Party Talks. At the same time, China accounts for approximately 90% of North Korea's foreign trade, and currently Russia has various exchanges with North Korea. Japan, the U.S., and the ROK will cooperate closely to address this and appeal to them. In addition, as repeated UN Resolutions have been made until today, each country has made the decision to fulfill its role in the sanctions adopted through the UN, and I believe it is important that those decisions are firmly carried out. We will firmly undertake initiatives including that point.

REPORTER: Regarding the recent Japan-U.S. telephone talk, according to the explanation of the Japanese Government, President Trump had detailed questions that Prime Minister Abe explained, and the discussion covered the interactions of previous generations using concrete examples, including the talks between Japan and North Korea prior to the administration of Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and that a wide range of discussions were held on the dialogue and lines of pressure of the international community toward North Korea. Does the Japanese Government perceive that the responses to the administrations of previous generations have been different to the response to the Kim Jong-un administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is true that such discussions took place. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on specific details due to the nature of the matter.

REPORTER: Although I understand that you would like to refrain from commenting on the specifics, I perceive the current fundamental stance of the Government to be one of “dialogue and pressure,” applying pressure through actions including economic sanctions, and creating preconditions to dialogue. Do you believe this line of thought and method has been effective with the Kim Jong-un administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: UN Security Council Resolutions have been passed repeatedly through to the present, but even so North Korea continues to unilaterally escalate the situation despite the efforts of the international community. In that context, the two leaders agreed that further action is necessary.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma. Today, July 31st, an initial portion comprising approximately four hectares of MCAS Futenma was returned to Okinawa. Could you share the significance of this restoration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware that today a portion of MCAS Futenma comprising municipal roadside land was returned, as part of the acceleration of work to return land this fiscal year, as agreed upon between myself and former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in December 2016. By returning the land today, the municipal roads will be fully opened, leading to a major improvement in the living environment of the region. This is a request that the region has had for over 20 years, even before the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement, and I have major expectations that these matters will be improved. The Government will proceed with realizing a visible reduction of the impact on Okinawa, while providing explanations to the local residents and seeking their understanding.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Okinawa prefectural government is opposing the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko. How will you achieve understanding for the early cessation of operations at MCAS Futenma and total restoration of the area?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A final decision by the Supreme Court was issued on the land reclamation work at Henoko. In the process leading to that decision, both parties agreed to the settlement provisions and as a result accepted that the Supreme Court’s decision would be the final decision on the matter, and during the trial Governor Onaga stated that he would comply with the decision. In that sense, I believe it is first of all important that both parties make efforts in accordance with the spirit of the settlement. At the same time, the Government will continue to realize a reduction of the impact of military bases on Okinawa in a visible manner, and undertake initiatives from a stance of doing everything we can.

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