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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 24, 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.)

In today’s Cabinet meeting it was decided to invite H.E. Mr. Rakotoarimanana Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina, President of the Republic of Madagascar, and his spouse to pay an official visit to Japan from December 3 to 6. During their stay in Japan, the President and his spouse will make a state call on Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress. Prime Minister Abe will also hold a meeting with the President and host a dinner. Madagascar is strategically and geopolitically positioned as the gateway to Eastern and Southern Africa and we have built good bilateral relations over the course of many years. This will be the first official visit to Japan in 52 years. The Government hopes that this visit will further strengthen the friendly and cooperative relations between Japan and Madagascar.


REPORTER: I have a question about the boat that washed ashore in Yurihonjo City in Akita Prefecture and the eight people that have been detained, who claim to have come from North Korea. Could you tell us what information the Government has with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Last night at approximately 11:25 p.m., Akita Police received a 110 call about suspicious persons and discovered eight men of unidentified nationality. A wooden boat was also discovered nearby, which is thought to be the vessel that the men used. The Government is aware that the men have stated that they came from North Korea and were fishing, but their boat broke down, resulting in them being washed ashore. I have received a report that at the current point the relevant authorities are working with the local police to ascertain the details of the case. The Government will respond appropriately, ensuring that all relevant organizations work closely together.

REPORTER: Has it been confirmed that the eight men are North Korean?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Various matters are being confirmed currently, including the matter of their nationality. The men have stated that they came fishing from North Korea.

REPORTER: Is there a possibility that they were fishing illegally?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As with other matters, that is something that is also currently being confirmed.


REPORTER: I would like to return to North Korea-related matters. The eight men who are being detained have stated that they came to the vicinity of Japan to fish, so has the Government determined that they are fishermen and that there is no possibility of them being spies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that the route  and background are being  carefully investigated taking into account such a possibility..

REPORTER: Are the eight men in good health?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It would appear that there are no grounds for concern in terms of their health and the relevant authorities are responding appropriately.

REPORTER: These men would appear to have come over fishing and have been washed ashore, and in previous cases of this kind, the governments of Japan and North Korea have engaged in informal consultations and the people in question have been returned via China. What will the Government’s response be on this occasion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In previous similar cases, the Government has responded appropriately based on relevant laws, including the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act . The current case is now being investigated and we will respond based on the outcomes of the investigation.

REPORTER: If previous precedent is followed, is the Government likely to seek informal consultations with North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Identifying the circumstances of the current case is most important. A decision will be made after having conducted a full investigation and having heard about the route taken by the vessel concerned.

REPORTER: If the people concerned wish to return to North Korea, is it correct to understand that they will be returned?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from responding to a hypothetical question.


REPORTER: I have a question related to the issue of comfort woman statues. On November 22, the Mayor of San Francisco in the United States signed a document approving a resolution by the City Assembly to accept the donation of a comfort woman statue from a civil group, making the statue and its inscription public property. This is an issue about which Prime Minister Abe has made statements in the Diet and the Government also requested the mayor of San Francisco to use his power of veto on the resolution. What is the Government’s view on the outcome of this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government explained Japan’s position relating to the comfort women issue to the Mayor of San Francisco and requested that he exercise his power of veto on the resolution passed by the City Assembly. However, I understand that the mayor signed a document that approves the resolution by the City Assembly to accept the comfort woman statue. The installation of comfort woman statues in the United States and other countries, including this case, is incompatible with the position of the Government and as such is highly regrettable. The Government has repeatedly approached various persons concerned to explain our stance and we will continue to make every effort to ensure that a similar outcome does not occur again.

REPORTER: Following this decision, Osaka has indicated that it intends to annul the sister city relationship with San Francisco. Can I ask for your thoughts on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I am of course aware of the comments made by the Mayor of Osaka about the sister city relationship with San Francisco, I would like to refrain from commenting on remarks made by the head of a local government. At the same time, the installation of comfort woman statues in the United States and other countries is highly regrettable and incompatible with the stance of the Government of Japan.


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