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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 9, 2018 (AM)

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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
(There was a statement on the overview of the Cabinet meeting.)



REPORTER: I have a question about the meeting between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and North Korea that began a short while ago, the first of its kind for two years. It is anticipated that the meeting will cover the participation of North Korea in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Could you tell us what the Government expects the outcomes from this meeting will be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are a festival of peace, and the Government views positively the change in North Korea’s position and the indication of its desire to participate in the PyeongChang Games. Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear and missile development poses an unprecedentedly grave and imminent threat to the peace and security of the region, including Japan. Under such circumstances, there is no change to our position to cooperate with the United States, and trilaterally with the ROK and the United States in using all means to place maximum pressure on North Korea to make it change its policies.

REPORTER: Although it is expected that the North-South meeting today would focus on North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games, there is also the possibility that North Korea, which is currently struggling under economic sanctions, could be aiming to use the meeting as an opportunity to acquire economic assistance from the ROK. What is the Government’s analysis of the intentions of North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already stated, the Government views positively the change in North Korea’s position and the indication of its desire to participate in the Winter Olympic Games. Meanwhile, its nuclear and missile development poses a threat not only to the region but also to the world. Multiple sanction measures have been adopted in the United Nations. The Government will continue to call for the full implementation of all measures adopted by the United Nations.


REPORTER: I have a question about Okinawa, where on January 6 a UH-1 helicopter of U.S. Forces made an emergency landing on Ikei Island and on January 8 an AH-1 attack helicopter also made an emergency landing in Yomitan Village. Can I ask for the view and responses of the Government regarding this series of emergency landings by U.S. Forces helicopters in Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the security environment surrounding Japan is of ever increasing severity and, in that context, it is of the utmost importance to ensure deterrence under the Japan-U.S. Alliance. In order to ensure smooth deployment and stationing of U.S. Forces it is also of the utmost importance to gain the understanding and cooperation of local residents. The operation of aircraft by U.S. Forces is predicated on ensuring safety in all aspects and it is unacceptable for accidents and incidents involving U.S. Forces aircraft to cause concern for local residents in this way. It is therefore highly regrettable that this recent series of accidents has repeatedly occurred. Immediately following the accidents the Government issued a request to U.S. Forces for the provision of detailed information, the thorough maintenance and checks of all aircraft and the implementation of effective prevention measures. Today Defense Minister Onodera has held a teleconference with U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, in which he requested that thorough countermeasures be taken. I have received a report that Secretary Mattis apologized for the repeated emergency landings of U.S. Forces aircraft, noting that he was fully aware of the situation and would respond to it as a matter of urgency.

REPORTER: I have a question about the Japan-ROK agreement regarding the comfort women issue. Although the Government of the ROK has decided not to request the Government of Japan to renegotiate the agreement, it is reportedly considering making requests for additional measures, including Prime Minister Abe sending a letter to former comfort women. Can I ask for a comment from the Government on these developments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I have received an explanation that the Government of the ROK is planning to announce its response to the Japan-ROK agreement sometime this afternoon. Therefore, I would like to refrain from making any comment at this moment. Japan’s position on this issue is clear. The agreement was concluded at a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ meeting after a negotiation process and the contents were subsequently confirmed at the leaders’ level. The agreement was also highly appreciated by the international community, including the United States. The Government therefore considers that the agreement should be steadily implemented, and we believe it to be important for the ROK to uphold the agreement without further delay.

REPORTER: Is it the case that the Government would not respond in any way to requests for additional measures, as you indicated in a recent television interview?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I stated that the agreement is, as you all know, final and irreversible, and we will continue to call strongly on the ROK to ensure its steady implementation. In any event, the Government has absolutely no intention to change its position on the agreement, even in the slightest.


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