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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 27, 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: According to some press reports, the Government is in talks with the Government of the United Kingdom to conclude a visiting forces agreement (VFA) that would provide a legal basis to facilitate the operations of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and British Armed Forces in each other’s countries. What are the situations behind these reports and what is the current status?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Governments of Japan and the United Kingdom place importance on Japan-UK security and defense cooperation. To date we have strengthened cooperation in this area. However, it is not true that a decision has been made to start consultations towards concluding the kind of agreement that you mentioned. As is stated in the Japan-UK Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, which was issued at the time of Prime Minister May’s visit to Japan, the Government will work, as a priority, on a framework to improve administrative, policy and legal procedures to facilitate joint operations and exercises between the SDF and British Armed Forces.

REPORTER: A Japan-UK Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting (“2+2”) is scheduled to be held in London on December 14, so is there a possibility that such an agreement will be discussed in the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is working with the UK Government to hold a “2+2” meeting at the earliest possible juncture, but at the current point a specific date has yet to be decided.

REPORTER: I have a question about the meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament, which is being held in Hiroshima. There were plans for this meeting to be attended by eminent persons from the nuclear-weapon states of the United States, Russia, China and France, but the delegate from China is absent. Could I have a comment from you on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, while the Government had made arrangements for such eminent persons to attend the meeting in Hiroshima, we received word that the delegate from China would be unable to attend shortly prior to the meeting. The eminent person from China had participated in discussions on paper in the preparatory stage of the meeting. It is therefore unfortunate that the person in question was unable to attend. Although the Chinese delegate is not present, representatives of the nuclear-weapon states of the United States, France and Russia are participating in discussions in the meeting. The Government hopes that this meeting, which will take place today and tomorrow, will involve vigorous and meaningful discussions and result in recommendations that will contribute to rebuilding cooperation and trust among the international community.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The reason the Government has given to date for not participating in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is that, without the participation of nuclear-weapon states, it would not lead to substantive nuclear disarmament. I believe that this meeting of eminent persons would offer Japan an opportunity to take the lead in discussions towards nuclear disarmament, so what is the significance of China being absent from these discussions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although it is unfortunate that China was unable to attend, the delegates from the nuclear-weapon states of the United States, France and Russia are actually attending and that in itself has a great value.

REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea. An informed source has indicated that the special envoy of President Xi Jinping of China, who was dispatched to North Korea, could not have a meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-un. What information does the Government have about this matter, and if it is true that the envoy was unable to have a meeting, what is the Government’s view about the possibility of China being a key party in measures to deal with North Korea going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government about interactions between third countries. I would add that the Government is aware that neither China nor North Korea has announced that Mr. Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has had a meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-un. The Government is constantly gathering and analyzing information with the greatest interest concerning developments in North Korea. There is no change in the Government’s view that China has an extremely important role to play in dealing with North Korea, given that China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the chair of the Six-Party Talks process, and accounts for approximately 90 percent of all North Korean trade. Japan expects China to play a responsible and constructive role in efforts to make North Korea change its policies.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to outer space. In the Japan-U.S. summit meeting held on November 6, the two leaders confirmed that Japan and the United States will promote cooperation in space exploration and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced its Deep Space Gateway initiative. Japan is participating in this initiative, so could you tell us whether Japan is aiming to participate in a manned exploration of the moon’s surface, which would be a first for Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, discussions on international space exploration are taking place in an expert meeting organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Furthermore, at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting on November 6 the two leaders confirmed that the two countries will promote further cooperation in the area of space exploration. Based on the outcomes of the summit meeting I understand that discussions are taking place in the Committee on National Space Policy and other fora. However, I have received a report that nothing has been decided at the current point in time.

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