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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 19, 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]

REPORTER: Following the conclusion of the Winter Paralympic Games, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis has announced the implementation of U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) joint military exercises. Could you tell us about any information the Government has at the current time on this matter and what impact you think the exercises will have on the North Korea situation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, there are varying views on this matter, from those who see that North Korea will go ahead with further provocative actions in response to the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises, and those who think that North Korea will seek to alleviate tensions through dialogue. Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from making comments on specific content and analyses of this information. I would say that the Government continues to collect and analyze information on the North Korean situation with the greatest interest, engaging in close cooperation with the United States, the ROK and other countries concerned. In any event, under the robust Japan-U.S. Alliance and with a due sense of urgency, we will continue to make every effort to protect the safety and security of the people of Japan.
REPORTER: I have a question about the results of the presidential election in Russia. Incumbent President Putin has won the election by a landslide. The view is that President Putin is unlikely to change his policy towards Japan as he enters his fourth term in office. In the Government’s analysis, how will the President’s victory affect Japan-Russia relations?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Japan and Russia are important partners in the Asia-Pacific region. The Government therefore considers it to be of the utmost importance for regional stability and development that Japan and Russia, which are major regional powers, build stable relations and deepen cooperation. Following President Putin’s inauguration after re-election as President of Russia we will continue to advance cooperative efforts to further develop Japan-Russia relations.
REPORTER: A Japan-Russia summit meeting is being planned in Russia in May. Could you tell us the Government’s outlook for negotiations on the conclusion of a peace treaty, including the issue of the Northern Territories?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, at the Japan-Russia summit meeting held in December 2016, the two leaders expressed their sincere determination to resolve the peace treaty issue and agreed to commence discussions on the implementation of joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands in a manner that does not harm the legal positions of either side. Under our basic policy of resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and concluding a peace treaty, while advancing the relationship between Japan and Russia in a broad range of areas in a manner that contributes to our national interest, the Government will continue to engage in persistent negotiations with Russia following President Putin’s inauguration for a new term of office. We also plan to resume discussions at the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ meeting scheduled to take place in Japan on March 21, toward a summit meeting in May.
REPORTER: During his visit to the United States, Foreign Minister Kono held meetings with various senior officials in the Trump administration, including Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary Mattis. In these meetings, he requested that the U.S. raise the abduction issue and engage in consultations towards the resolution of the issue at the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, which is expected to be held in the future. Could you tell us the Government’s view on the response or reaction of the U.S. to this request at the current point?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to Foreign Minister Kono’s visit to the United States, in meetings with senior officials of the U.S. Government, including Vice President Pence, he has requested that the United States raise the abduction issue at the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit meeting and received confirmation that the United States will continue to work with Japan towards the resolution of the issue. Based on the principles of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action,” Japan will continue to use various opportunities and means to demand the fulfillment of the Stockholm Agreement by North Korea, and devote every effort to realizing the return of all the abductees as quickly as possible.

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