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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 6, 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 President Trump’s visit to Japan. Yesterday the two leaders deepened their friendship over golf and dinner. It appears that they exchanged opinions on some specific issues, so what is your evaluation of yesterday’s interactions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, President Trump arrived in Japan yesterday. Through a round of golf and over dinner the two leaders further deepen their personal bonds of friendship and trust. The two leaders also demonstrated to Japan and the world their strong relations of trust. This afternoon a Japan-U.S. summit meeting is scheduled. I believe that one of the main agenda items for the meeting will be North Korea and I would imagine that based on the latest North Korea situation the two leaders will engage in candid exchanges of views and in-depth discussions on how to engage in Japan-U.S., and Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation, as well as cooperation with the rest of the world, including China and Russia, to make North Korea change its policies. In addition, it is of the utmost importance to gain the understanding and cooperation of the United States as we seek to expedite the resolution of the abduction issue, which is one of the priority challenges for the Abe administration. It is of great significance that Japan-U.S. cooperation on this issue will be further strengthened by President Trump’s meeting with the families of the abduction victims. Through the President’s visit to Japan I expect that we will demonstrate to the world once again the strength of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

REPORTER: I have a related question. President Trump has indicated that he will be deciding soon on whether to re-designate North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Would Japan support such a re-designation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware of the matter you referred to. The designation of a nation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism by the United States is an issue that relates to the interpretation and application of its domestic legislation and ultimately it will be the Government of the United States that makes a decision on this matter. The Government of Japan has maintained close cooperation and communication with the United States. We will continue to cooperate with the United States and strengthen pressure on North Korea, calling strongly for all matters of concern to be resolved.

REPORTER: In a meeting with Japanese and U.S. business leaders this morning, President Trump stated that trade with Japan is not fair and not open . There is a possibility that President Trump will call for a correction of the trade imbalance in today’s summit meeting. Could you tell us how you perceive this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on individual statements made by the President. I would add, however, that I am of course aware of the U.S. views relating to the trade deficit. Japan has consistently explained to the U.S. that Japan’s proportion of the U.S. trade deficit stands at no more than 9.3 percent of the total. Also, direct employment by Japanese manufacturing and other industries accounts for approximately 860,000 jobs across the entire United States. In any event, we will continue to work together with the United States on economic relations through the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue.

REPORTER: I have a question about comments made by Defense Minister Onodera at the Mt. Fuji Dialogue, which was held from October 28. Defense Minister Onodera stated with regard to North Korea that time is running out and that unless North Korea changes its policies by the end of this year or early next year, the time will have come to respond with an even greater sense of urgency. Also, in Washington, on November 3, the U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. H. R. McMaster gave an interview to representatives of the Japanese media, in which he stated with regard to North Korea that it will be necessary to consider seriously the case to resolve the situation  militarily.  He also used the same expression that time is running out. If there is no change to North Korea’s actions to develop nuclear technologies and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), could you tell us whether the Government is currently contemplating making a decision towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year that could include military operations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The  fundamental position of the government is to place pressure on North Korea so as to make it change its policies. At the same time, it is the duty of the Government to protect the lives of the people and ensure the peace of Japan by making preparations for all possibilities.

REPORTER: So are we to understand that depending on the situation, the Government would contemplate an emergency response, war, or a limited offensive through consultations with countries concerned?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s position is as I have just described it.

REPORTER: A committee of San Francisco City Council decided on November 2 to accept the donation of a comfort woman statue and inscription that are currently installed on private property. Mr. Hirofumi Yoshimura, Mayor of Osaka City, which has maintained a sister city relationship with San Francisco for 60 years, stated that the inscription is contrary to the stance of the Government of Japan and that if the statue were to become public property he would annul the sister city relationship. Given that this issue is occurring at a time when President Trump is visiting Japan and when Japan-U.S. relations are becoming ever stronger, what is your view on these developments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, although I am aware of the comments made by the mayor of Osaka City about the installation of a comfort woman statue in San Francisco, the Government would like to refrain from commenting on each remark made by a local mayor. In any event, the moves to install comfort woman statues in the United States are incompatible with the Government’s position and as such are extremely regrettable. Based on this stance, we are approaching persons concerned through various channels and providing explanations about the Government’s stance, and will continue to strengthen our response.

REPORTER: According to some press reports the issue of evacuation of Japanese nationals from the Korean Peninsula is on the agenda for this afternoon’s summit meeting. Is the Government seeking to engage in discrete discussions on this topic?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of any such agenda topic.

REPORTER: According to some press reports, Mr. Wilbur Ross, U.S. Commerce Secretary, made profits via a company in a tax haven through transactions with a gas company that is closely associated with President Putin of Russia. What is the view of the Government with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on a matter that concerns  internal affairs of another country. I am also not aware of any of the details.

REPORTER: These press reports could negatively impact the Trump administration. Do you think that they could affect the response to the North Korea issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think there will be any impact in that regard.

REPORTER: In relation to the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, It is said that  Japan is considering further sanctions of its own against North Korea. Could you tell us what kind of additional measures the Government is contemplating?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing has been decided about the introduction of new measures by Japan. In any event, while working closely with the United States and other countries concerned, the Government will constantly consider our response, based on the perspective of what would be the most effective means of strengthening pressure to achieve the comprehensive resolution of all matters of concern.

REPORTER: I have a question about the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to Henoko, where new shore protection work  has begun. Given that it is expected that Okinawa will oppose the construction work, can I ask about the Government’s stance on the relocation to Henoko?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report from the Ministry of Defense that following the completion of preparations, shore protection work has begun at Henoko. The Government will continue to advance work related to relocation to Henoko, giving due consideration to safety at the work site and the dwelling and living environment and natural environment, in accordance with the relevant laws, with a view to realizing the return of MCAS Futenma as soon as possible.

REPORTER: The Congressional Research Service  of the United States has compiled a report in which it is estimated that a conflict on the Korean Peninsula could cause the deaths of up to 300,000 people, even without the use of nuclear weapons. I would imagine that the Government of Japan has probably also made calculations about the degree to which Japanese nationals would be caught up in a scenario in which conflict occurred on the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore and somewhat related to the previous question, I would imagine that you have also estimated figures for the scale of evacuations and other measures for Japanese nationals. Could you tell us whether the Government intends to release such projections to the people of Japan in a public forum such as the Diet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government about a matter that concerns the United States and is in any event hypothetical.

REPORTER: In that case, putting the case of the Congressional Research Service report aside, it could be assumed that the Government of Japan is also engaged in calculations about the anticipated status of damage in the event of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Could you tell us, therefore, if the Government intends to release such information about matters such as the anticipated scale of damage, and what plans will be needed for the evacuation of Japanese nationals?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the greatest duty of the Government is to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan, we will respond firmly based on that stance. I would like to refrain from responding to hypothetical questions.

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