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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 24, 2017 (PM)

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 the comfort women issue. A plenary session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has passed an amendment to the Act on Livelihood Stability and Memorial Services, Etc. for Sexual Slavery Victims for the Japanese Imperial Army, which includes the designation of a day to commemorate former comfort women. The law designates August 14 as the commemorative day and clearly states that various events will take place in the ROK and overseas to remember the comfort women. Can I ask for a comment from the Government about this development?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware of the matter you raised. These developments go against the spirit of the Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women, which confirmed that the issue was finally and irreversibly resolved. Furthermore, the Government is concerned that such a move could disrupt the current efforts of Japan and the ROK to mutually develop a future-oriented relationship. We have strongly expressed these concerns to the ROK via diplomatic channels to date and have once again expressed our strong concerns with regard to this latest development.


REPORTER: I have a related question. Among the G7 nations, Japan is the only country to not recognize same-sex marriages or partnerships. With the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games due to be held in 2020, is the Government considering measures to review or revise the existing system?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government on this point.

REPORTER: I have a question about the boat that was washed up on the coast of Akita Prefecture and is considered to have come from North Korea. This morning you stated that the police were investigating the case and I imagine that there have been developments since then, so could you tell us what the Government knows about the facts of this case at the current point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, there are eight persons of undetermined nationality, who 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 the relevant authorities are still working with local police to ascertain the facts pertaining to this case. Preparations are also being made to search the contents of boat that was also discovered close by and is thought to be the vessel which they used. In any event, the relevant authorities will work closely together and respond appropriately.

REPORTER: The men have explained that they came from North Korea to fish, but what is the Government’s view of their nationality and their purpose in coming into the vicinity of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted the relevant authorities are currently working together to investigate the details of this case.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the first topic of the law that was passed in the ROK. You stated that the Government has once again expressed its concerns, so can we consider that this was a protest? When and how was such an approach made to the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government strongly expressed its concerns to the ROK.


REPORTER: Today I understand that Mr. Etsuro Honda, Ambassador of Japan to Switzerland, and Prof. Koichi Hamada, Special Advisor to the Cabinet, met with the Prime Minister and I imagine that economic policy was discussed. Could you tell us the specific purpose of the meeting and what was discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Unfortunately I am not aware of the details.

REPORTER: I would like to ask another question about the law passed by the National Assembly of the ROK. You stated that the Government has issued a strong protest. However, the Government has protested about this issue in the past so could you tell us what form the protest took on this occasion and whether it was of a similar strength to previous protests? Also, given a situation in which the United Nations has issued statements condemning North Korea and the United States has re-designated the country as a state sponsor of terrorism, I would have thought it imperative for Japan, the ROK and the United States to demonstrate strong solidarity in responding to North Korea on the international stage. Under such circumstances, this action to designate August 14 as a commemorative day seems all the more strange. Can you tell us whether the Government will be issuing a protest stronger than those in the past?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government considers this decision to be highly questionable and we have conveyed our message from this sentiment to the ROK.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. In a press conference on November 23, Mr. Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stated that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran with six countries in Europe and North America are being implemented. On the other hand, President Trump of the United States stated in October that he did not recognize that commitments were being implemented. This indicates a large discrepancy between the U.S. President and the IAEA, which is the verification and monitoring body, concerning the implementation of the agreement by Iran. Is it the view of the Government of Japan that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is the case that the IAEA has issued a number of reports by the Director General concerning verification and monitoring of Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including the report that was issued on November 13. Meanwhile, President Trump referred to the JCPOA in the Iran strategy speech he gave in October. It is the Government’s understanding that it is not necessarily the view of the Government of the United States that Iran is not implementing its commitments under the agreement. Japan expects that the parties to the agreement will continue to implement the commitments and will continue to call on Iran to play a constructive role towards regional stability, including implementing its commitments under the agreement.


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