Skip to main content

Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  February 2018 >  February 8, 2018 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 8, 2018 (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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
Following the earthquake that occurred in eastern Taiwan in the early hours of yesterday morning, February 7 (Japan time), this morning the Government has dispatched a team composed of seven experts to support the intensive search and rescue activities that are being implemented by Taiwan authorities. The team will arrive in Taiwan this afternoon and are then scheduled to begin search and rescue activities. It is crucial to conduct rescues within 72 hours following an earthquake and the Government hopes that the team’s efforts will help to rescue as many people as possible.
REPORTER: Could you please share with us the background of those seven members of the expert team that you have just mentioned?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The seven members of the expert team are from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Police Agency, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, the Japan Coast Guard, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). These seven people have already been dispatched together with equipment and materials which Taiwan needs. The team is scheduled to depart or now has departed.
REPORTER: Was the expert team dispatched in response to a specific request from authorities in Taiwan?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that Taiwan is in need of the dispatch of personnel who can operate devices and equipment that can detect human presence from outside the debris.
REPORTER: The team is largely comprised of experts from government ministries and agencies, so can we understand that the team members include people who will be actively involved in search and rescue activities?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted, the Taiwan authorities are in need of personnel who can operate devices and equipment that can detect human presence from outside the debris and it is for that purpose that the expert team has been dispatched.
REPORTER: I asked the same question yesterday. Is it still the case that at the current point there are no missing Japanese nationals confirmed following the earthquake?
REPORTER: I have a question about the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un of North Korea, will be visiting the Republic of Korea (ROK) to attend the opening ceremony of the Games. Yesterday, in his meeting with Vice President Pence, Prime Minister Abe stated that it is important not to be blinded by North Korea’s charm offensive. What is the Government’s analysis of North Korea’s aims in sending Kim Yo-jong to visit the ROK?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are festivals of peace and the Government appreciates that inter-Korean efforts have been made to facilitate North Korea’s participation in the Games. Nevertheless, it is important not to be blinded by North Korea’s diplomatic charm offensive. Given the necessity for the international community as a whole to strengthen pressure on North Korea, it is important to avoid any actions that could be inconsistent with the policy to increase pressure. In any event, we will continue to engage in close Japan-ROK and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation in our response to North Korea. With regard to the visit that you mentioned, we will continue to coordinate Japan-U.S.-ROK policies, while receiving information from the ROK.
REPORTER: Kim Yo-jong is also a senior member of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Is there a possibility that Prime Minister Abe or other Government officials will interact or meet with Kim Yo-jong or other senior North Korean officials?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Circumstances permitting, Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to visit the ROK to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games on February 9. He is also scheduled to hold a Japan-ROK summit meeting with President Moon Jae-in of the ROK and offer his encouragement to the Japanese Olympic Team. No decisions have been made about any other itinerary items during the Prime Minister’s visit.
REPORTER: Today, North Korea will be holding a military parade. Could I ask about the Government’s view on such a parade being held prior to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games and how you analyze the aims of such a parade, which North Korea is claiming to be a domestic celebratory event, as it takes into consideration the Olympic Games?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly engaged with great interest in gathering and analyzing information about political and military developments in North Korea. Due to the nature of such information I would like to refrain from commenting on specific details and analyses. In any event, there is absolutely no change to our stance of continuing to maintain a high sense of alert under the robust Japan-U.S. Alliance as we work to ensure an advanced surveillance and monitoring posture, and make every effort to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan.
REPORTER: I have a question relating to Kim Yo-Jong. It is being reported that Vice Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Choe Hwi, someone who is subject to a travel ban under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, will be a part of the North Korean delegation to the ROK, and the Government of the ROK has requested an exemption from the travel ban for Choe Hwi. Although this may be an extraordinary measure it nonetheless means that the severe sanctions that are currently in place are being contravened, so can I ask for a comment from the Government on this point?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is a fact that First Vice Director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yo-jong is subject to sanctions measures by the United States, and also that Chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee Choe Hwi is designated as being subject to sanctions measures under the provisions of UNSC Resolution 2356. The Government will continue to monitor the entry into the ROK of the North Korean delegation, including those two individuals, and the relationship with UNSC-approved sanctions measures and individual measures imposed by various countries, along with future actions of the Government of the ROK.
REPORTER: Some events have already started at the PyeongChang Olympic Games. Could you share with us your hopes for the Japanese Olympic Team?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, ahead of the opening ceremony on February 9, a number of events have already started today. The Japanese Olympic Team is composed of 124 athletes who will be participating in seven events. Public interest in the Games is extremely high, with expectations that Japanese athletes will win medals in various events, including figure skating, the ski jump and speed skating. I hope that all the athletes will demonstrate to the best of their abilities the fruits of the painstaking training they have endured every day, and that they each will show performances that they are satisfied with. Together with the people of Japan, we will be watching the performance of our athletes with great excitement, and also with the hope that the results of these Games will help to further heighten momentum towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in two years’ time.
REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of North Korea. There are some concerns about the mood tilting towards dialogue through the inter-Korean dialogue, including the dispatch of senior officials from North Korea to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. What is the Government of Japan’s view and understanding with regard to the possibility of an inter-Korean summit meeting, which President Moon has previously mentioned?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government continues to closely monitor developments in inter-Korean relations, but I would like to refrain from responding to questions about individual and hypothetical issues.
REPORTER: I have a related question. In his meeting with Prime Minister Abe yesterday, Vice President Pence indicated that the United States would soon be announcing a series of additional sanctions against North Korea that is even more severe than those currently in place. In relation to this, last month UNICEF announced that approximately 200,000 children in North Korea face acute malnutrition caused by lack of food. Approximately 40 percent of these children face severe acute malnutrition, and UNICEF has noted that, as fuel becomes more expensive and scarce due to continuing sanctions, it is vulnerable children who are suffering due to the severe deterioration in the public health situation and medical environment. Given this situation, while I think the Government of Japan seems to accept the necessity of further sanctions, could you tell us the view of the Government with respect to the damage that sanctions are inflicting on children in North Korea?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The sanctions that you mentioned just now have been announced yesterday by the United States. As a representative of Japan, I would like to refrain from commenting on the announcement made by the United States. In any event, a nuclear-armed North Korea will never be accepted by the Government, and it is based on this point that we are seeking to make North Korea change its policies and abandon its nuclear and missile programs. It is imperative to continue to engage in Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, and use all means to place maximum pressure on North Korea. That was the point which was confirmed in yesterday’s meeting. That is all.

Page Top

Related Link