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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 29, 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
(There was a statement on the overview of the Cabinet meeting and others.)



REPORTER: The election campaign in effect started yesterday and, at the outset of a stump speech also given yesterday, the Prime Minister raised the response to North Korea as the very first issue. Do the Government and the ruling parties intend to give the response to North Korea top priority?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The most important duty of the Government is to protect the lives, properties and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan. The recent situation relating to North Korea poses a serious and grave threat, the likes of which Japan has never experienced in the postwar period. It is against this backdrop that the Government has sought to strengthen deterrence under the Japan-U.S. Alliance, engage in Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation, and also call on China and Russia, the result of which was the unanimous adoption by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of an unprecedentedly strong resolution against North Korea. It is important to implement the measures that were adopted by the UNSC and place further pressure on North Korea to compel it to change its policies. In order to ensure that we can continue to engage in such measures, it is a matter of course that we should seek the understanding of the people of Japan, which will enable us to press forward with confidence.

REPORTER: The Government of China has issued a notification that all companies and organizations established in China that are North Korean-owned or are joint ventures with North Korea will be closed within 120 days. This would appear to be a specific measure that is based on the recently adopted UNSC resolution. Can I ask how the Government evaluates this measure?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that China accounts for approximately 90 percent of total trade with North Korea, China has an immensely important role to play in ensuring the effectiveness of sanctions against North Korea. Japan has to date called on China at various levels to play a constructive role. In the Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ meeting held on September 21, Foreign Minister Kono strongly encouraged China to play a responsible and constructive role. The two foreign ministers also agreed that it is important to fully implement all the relevant UNSC resolutions. The Government therefore welcomes this latest announcement as a concrete measure to be implemented by China. We will continue to call on China to play a constructive role.

REPORTER: Today marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of the diplomatic relations between Japan and China. Yesterday Prime Minister Abe attended a ceremony in Tokyo to commemorate this anniversary and expressed the hope that President Xi of China would make a visit to Japan in the near future. Can I ask for your thoughts on this 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of the diplomatic relations between Japan and China. Yesterday evening Prime Minister Abe attended a celebratory reception hosted by the Embassy of China, where he stated that Japan will work to further develop bilateral relations. The Prime Minister has also exchanged celebratory telegrams with Premier Li Keqiang today. Following on from the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations this year, next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China. Although Japan and China may face some difficult issues because we are neighbors, the Government seeks to use these milestone anniversaries as an opportunity to continue to advance friendly relations from a broad perspective under the concept of a “Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests,” responding appropriately to areas of concern and promoting cooperation in all areas and people-to-people exchanges.

REPORTER: I believe that a four ministers’ meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) was held yesterday, in which the North Korean situation was discussed. Could you tell us what matters were discussed and confirmed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the four ministers’ meeting of the NSC was convened yesterday, which confirmed the Government’s stance concerning the situation in North Korea, as well as interim plans for NSC and four ministers’ meetings. The meeting confirmed that given the current situation relating to North Korea, it is imperative for the Government to make every endeavor to ensure crisis management at all times, and that during the election campaign period the Government will continue to ensure a comprehensive readiness structure to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: What is the Government’s current stance with regard to the Prime Minister visiting regional areas to make campaign speeches? Could you tell us if there are such plans?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister will of course be touring the country to make campaign speeches. The dissolution of the Diet and the holding of a general election is the foundation of democracy and as the President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) it is of the utmost importance for the Prime Minister to speak to the people and gain their understanding about the Government’s policies. In addition, if an emergency situation arises during the campaign period it is the Government’s duty and role to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan. It is in that context that we will make every endeavor to ensure that a robust crisis management structure is in place at all times and for any situation. I would add that at times when the Prime Minister has been overseas at international conferences in the past the Government has responded robustly to crisis situations and we will continue to work together to ensure that a comprehensive structure is in place to ensure the safety and security of the nation.


REPORTER: I have a question about the comfort women issue. Jongno District in Seoul has designated the comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese embassy as a public sculpture. This means that in order to remove the statue it will be necessary to notify the owner of the statue, which is an association for former comfort women, and then engage in deliberations in a committee. Could you tell us any information the Government has with regard to this matter and what your response will be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the matter you referred to has been implemented despite the confirmation in the Japan-ROK agreement of 2015 that the comfort women issue is finally and irreversibly resolved, and it could lead to the permanent installation of the comfort woman statue in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul. As such it is incompatible with the Government of Japan’s stance and is extremely regrettable. We have lodged a strong protest with the ROK side, reiterating our position. Furthermore, these actions are extremely problematic in light of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations , which stipulates basic rules for diplomatic relations in international law. The Japan-ROK agreement was confirmed by the leaders of both countries and is highly valued by the international community, including the United States. The Government will continue to use all opportunities to call on the ROK side to move to steadily implement the terms of the agreement.

REPORTER: In addition to this matter, the ROK has also indicated its intention to move forward with a plan to install a memorial dedicated  to the comfort women. It would appear that basically the ROK is engaging in whatever measures it so wishes in contravention of the Japan-ROK agreement. Will the Government of Japan be making stronger calls for the implementation of the agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government considers that this agreement represents a commitment at the international level. The leaders of both countries announced to the world that the issue is irreversibly resolved. The Government will therefore continue to call strongly on the ROK to implement its commitments.

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