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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 25, 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]


REPORTER: I have a question about special grave visits to the Northern Territories. Former island residents paid special grave visits to the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri from September 23 to 24; however, due to inclement weather the plane was unable to land at Kunashiri and some passengers had to stay the night in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in Russia. What is the Government’s evaluation of these special grave visits and what challenges remain outstanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the special grave visits by airplane were realized as an outcome of the series of Japan-Russia summit meetings. Unfortunately, it was not possible to depart and return on the same day due to poor weather in the vicinity. A one-way journey by ship would have taken about three hours to Etorofu and nearly 10 hours to Kunashiri, so these airplane visits significantly reduced travel times. I think that these visits have paved the way for further visits in the future and they are therefore significant from the perspective of reducing the physical burden on former island residents. On the other hand, even though the cause was poor weather it is extremely regrettable that as a result the former residents had to stay in overnight accommodation. The Government will use the experiences from these visits to realize better grave visits in the future. While remaining attentive to the wishes of former island residents, we will continue to make maximum efforts toward the conclusion of a peace treaty in the near term.

REPORTER: State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kazuyuki Nakane, who accompanied the former residents on the grave visits, stated in a press conference that the Government will consider engaging in improvements to Kunashiri Airport, taking into account the Government’s legal position. What is the view of the Government about the feasibility of implementing such improvements?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This matter is as State Minister Nakane described it. In any event, we will continue to engage in considerations based on our legal position with regard to the Four Northern Islands. We will also continue to seek to improve grave visits in the future.


REPORTER: In the afternoon of September 23, an earthquake of around magnitude 3 occurred in the vicinity of the nuclear test site in northeastern North Korea. What is the Government’s current analysis of this earthquake?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I understand that analysis by the earthquake monitoring authorities of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and China has indicated that this earthquake was a natural earthquake, in contrast to the earthquakes caused by previous nuclear tests. The  seismic waveform data published in the U.S. and analysis by the Japan Meteorological Agency also indicate that this was a natural earthquake. Based on this information, at the current point the Government considers that two natural earthquakes occurred in North Korea on September 23. We will continue to collect and analyze information by exchanging opinions among ministries and agencies in Japan and the relevant authorities in other countries.

REPORTER: I have a question about State Minister of the Cabinet Office, Mr. Mineyuki Fukuda, who has announced his intention to join a new political party. His move comes against the backdrop of the reshuffled Cabinet being characterized as a “Cabinet of doers ” and at a time when the Prime Minister has yet to announce the dissolution of the Diet. His departure raises the basic question of whether the post of State Minister, one of the three highest ranks in government, is one that can be treated so lightly. Can I ask for your views?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you have noted, it goes without saying that the position of State Minister is of the utmost importance and has a bearing on the lives of the people, as the Act for Establishment of the Cabinet Office  and the National Government Organization Act  stipulate that State Ministers shall take charge of important policies, planning and implementation by the order of the designated Minister. In that sense, the sudden resignation of the person in question is highly regrettable.

REPORTER: I have a question about the general election in Germany. The ruling party led by Chancellor Merkel has retained its status as the party with the most seats. Can I ask how the Government views the outcome of the election in Germany?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan and Germany are important partners, sharing the same fundamental values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. I understand that a new administration will be formed in Germany following coalition negotiations and the Government of Japan will seek to further strengthen Japan-Germany relations with the new administration.


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