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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 7, 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)


REPORTER: I have a question about President Trump’s visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK). Tonight, a dinner is scheduled to be held in Seoul, hosted by the Government of the ROK, and on the menu is a shrimp dish made using shrimp caught in the vicinity of Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture, which are referred to as “Dokdo shrimp.” Could you tell us the view of the Government about the appropriateness of serving food that is linked to territorial issues at a time when cooperation between Japan, the United States and the ROK is so vital?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware of the matter that you mentioned. Although I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government about how another country treats its overseas guests, I do, however, wonder about the appropriateness of such a choice. I would add that strong cooperation among Japan, the United States and the ROK is essential for responding to the North Korean issue. Given that President Trump selected Japan and the ROK as the first countries on his visit to Asia, I think that it goes without saying that it is necessary to avoid any actions that could adversely impact close Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Former comfort women have also been invited to the dinner where the shrimp dish referred to as “Dokdo shrimp” will be served. What is the Government’s view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in the Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women that was concluded in 2015, both countries confirm that the comfort women issue is resolved finally and irreversibly, and this agreement has been welcomed by the international community. It is important to ensure that the agreement is steadily implemented, and we will continue to use all available opportunities to call on the ROK to do so.

REPORTER: Will the Government be issuing a protest to the Government of the ROK about the arrangements for this dinner?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have stated our position to the ROK side through diplomatic channels.

REPORTER: I believe that the way in which the Government of the ROK is using the dinner to be held this evening would show  that rather than trilateral cooperation among Japan, the United States and the ROK in response to North Korea, what is more politically important for the Government of the ROK are the various issues that exist between Japan and the ROK. Can I ask for your view on the stance of the Government of the ROK?

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

REPORTER: Following on from this morning’s press conference, I would like to ask another question about Japan’s independent sanctions against North Korea that were approved this morning by the Cabinet. In addition to the issues of nuclear and missile development, Japan also has to deal with the abductions issue. Could you tell us about the significance of the expansion of Japan’s own sanction measures against North Korea in addition to the measures that are based on relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the resolutions adopted by the UNSC that relate to North Korea stipulate various severe sanction measures, including the freezing of assets of designated entities and individuals, and a ban of imports of coal and other commodities from North Korea. It is therefore of the utmost importance to ensure that the UNSC resolutions are fully implemented in order to further increase pressure on North Korea. The additional measures that Japan has implemented independently against North Korea make the sanctions regime more responsive and stringent, and are therefore effective in further heightening pressure. Japan will continue to use all means, including the UNSC resolutions and our own independent measures to place maximum pressure on North Korea to make it change its policies.

REPORTER: You have noted consistently that the measures based on UNSC resolutions are very strong and stringent. With regard to the significance of further expanding Japan’s independent measures against North Korea, is this a sign of Japan’s resolve in placing pressure on North Korea given that Japan is also dealing with the abductions issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, it is true that is the background to our measures.

REPORTER: With regard to the visit by President Trump to the ROK, and the aforementioned issues of the comfort women and Takeshima, is it the case that Japan has explained its stance to President Trump and the Government of the United States? The Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women was welcomed by the United States administration at the time of its conclusion, but has it been explained to and understood by the U.S.?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have the full understanding of the United States on this issue. We are also strongly stating our position to the ROK through diplomatic channels.

REPORTER: The meeting between President Trump and the families of the 17 people abducted by North Korea is significant not just in terms of emphasizing the issue to North Korea and the international community, but it has also apparently had a major impact on the U.S. military. Given that if an emergency were to occur on the Korean Peninsula it would be too late to do anything, could you tell us whether the Government is contemplating entering into discussions with the U.S. military about the possibility of implementing a mission to rescue the abductees, in anticipation of an emergency situation, including the possibility of an accidental clash?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government recognizes the utmost importance of ensuring the safety of the abductees in any scenario. In that sense the cooperation with our ally, the United States,  would be particularly important in the event of a contingency situation on the Korean Peninsula. To date the Government has shared information about the abductees with the United States. In the event that a situation occurs that threatens the safety of the abductees we would request the cooperation of the United States to secure their safety.

REPORTER: In yesterday’s Japan-U.S. summit meeting President Trump stated that if Japan were to buy more weapons from the United States it would generate U.S. employment and also strengthen Japan’s security. In this morning’s press conference, you stated that Japan’s position is to seek to expand defense capabilities both quantitatively and qualitatively, in line with the Mid-Term Defense Program. I am sure that you are aware that the Government has vastly increased its spending on the purchase of weaponry from the United States since Japan adopted the Three Principles of Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, which lift the embargo on arms exports. The Ministry of Defense has purchased defense equipment amounting to approximately 500 billion yen, including purchases of F-35 aircraft and the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Global Hawk. This has brought about a situation in which employment and other economic merits for Japanese defense equipment manufacturers have been decreasing as their share has diminished. What is the Government’s view of the impact on Japan’s domestic defense industry caused by the purchase of large quantities of expensive weaponry from the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is evident that it is important to secure the necessary equipment to improve Japan’s defense capabilities both qualitatively and quantitatively. After having received approval in the Diet for the Mid-Term Defense Program we are moving to secure such capabilities.

REPORTER: So are you saying that in order to expand Japan’s defense capabilities qualitatively and quantitatively, it is essentially unavoidable that Japanese defense equipment manufacturers’ share of the pie will become smaller?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we are engaged in efforts to secure the necessary qualitative and quantitative improvements in Japan’s defense capabilities, which are necessary to fulfil the Government’s duty to protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the people of Japan in the midst of an increasingly tense security environment.

REPORTER: It is said that while military-industrial complexes and defense technologies are necessary, war serves only to further bloat these military-industrial complexes, creating a situation where wars and conflicts are occurring around the world like we see in the cases with the United States. President Trump’s comments yesterday seem to affirm the view that the U.S. military-industrial complexes create employment in the country. It is currently the case that the Government of Japan is considering arms exports, including the export of submarine technologies. Can I ask whether the Government thinks that the military-industrial complex model should be promoted as a means of generating business growth?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan’s policy in this area is as the Government has announced.

REPORTER: By saying that  Japan’s policy is as announced, does that  mean that the growth of military-industrial complexes is unavoidable in order to boost arms exports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Our policy is set out in full in the Mid-Term Defense Program.

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