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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 10, 2018 (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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
Circumstances permitting, Prime Minister Abe will pay a visit to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania of the three Baltic States and Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania of Southeastern Europe, from January 12 to 17. This will be the first time for an incumbent Prime Minister of Japan to visit these countries. Through this visit the Government aims to widen the frontiers of Japan’s diplomacy and engage in frank exchanges of views with the leaders, including Bulgaria, which holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for the first half of this year, confirming close cooperation on urgent challenges facing the international community, including the issue of North Korea. An economic mission comprised of the representatives of more than 30 Japanese companies in total will accompany the Prime Minister on this visit to Europe, and it is expected that it will result in a strengthening of economic relations with these countries that have high economic potential.



REPORTER: I have a question concerning the New Year press conference of President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK). In his press conference, President Moon stated that the issue of the comfort women will only truly be resolved when Japan is forgiven by the victims by offering its heartfelt apology and so on. What is the view of the Government with regard to President Moon’s assertion that an apology from Japan is necessary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government on each of the individual remarks made in a press conference by the President of the ROK. I would add that the Japan-ROK agreement has a considerable international standing since it was concluded by the foreign ministers of the two countries following a lengthy negotiation process and the details were subsequently confirmed at the leaders’ level. The agreement was also very highly appreciated by the international community, including the United States. What is important above all is to ensure that the agreement is steadily implemented. We will continue to strongly request the ROK to steadily implement the agreement and we have no intention of changing our stance in the slightest.

REPORTER: On the other hand, President Moon stated that he hopes that the ROK and Japan will become true friends and that he will pursue historical issues and forward-oriented bilateral cooperation separately. What is your view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I suggest that you direct your question to President Moon. I would like to refrain from responding on behalf of the Government of Japan.

REPORTER: In relation to this matter, the ROK has invited Prime Minister Abe to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, so given a situation in which the ROK could not fulfil the terms of the Japan-ROK agreement, does the Government consider that a suitable environment is in place for the Prime Minister to attend the Games?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated previously, the possibility of a visit is being considered in light of matters such as the Diet schedule.


REPORTER: I have a question about Myanmar, where today the two Reuters journalists, who were arrested last month, have been charged with violating the State Secrecy Act. Recently former President Clinton of the United States has called for the journalists’ immediate release and I believe that the Government of Japan has already expressed its concerns to Myanmar. Can I ask once again about the views and stance of the Government with regard to this matter? This week, Foreign Minister Kono is scheduled to visit Myanmar. Can I ask if there will be an opportunity for him to directly convey and discuss the Government’s stance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as preparations are currently being made for Foreign Minister Kono’s visit to Myanmar, I would like to refrain from making any comments based on conjecture about the content of the meetings he is expected to have. I would add that the Government’s basic stance is that freedom of expression, basic human rights and the rule of law are universal values in the international community and it is important that such values be guaranteed in all countries. The Government of Japan has already expressed its concerns about the case you mentioned to the Government of Myanmar and we will continue to find appropriate opportunities in the future to discuss matters with Myanmar, including the one afforded by the upcoming visit by Foreign Minister Kono.

REPORTER: With regard to the Prime Minister’s visit to six European countries, which you have just announced, what are your main expectations for the outcomes from the visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as I noted in my opening statement, the visit will be very important in that the Prime Minister shares his views with a country that is scheduled to take on the rotating presidency of the EU, and align the position between Japan and the international community towards North Korea. We will also be working with Bulgaria, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency, in that regard.

REPORTER: You have referred to lowering dependence on nuclear power by switching to renewable energy, and yet last year and early this year there have been some press reports suggesting that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation is considering providing trade insurance to cover any substantial debts or accident response measures in relation to nuclear power exports to the United Kingdom. Not only is dependence on nuclear power increasing domestically, it is also the case that overseas arms exports are being actively promoted. In the event that an accident were to occur overseas that led to vast sums being required for loan guarantees, this could require a mechanism whereby tax revenues from Japan were used to cover such guarantees. What is the Government’s view on this point and what is the current policy orientation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we are not considering arms exports. In any event, this is related to the responses by both countries on the project. Nothing has been confirmed at the current point.


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