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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 22, 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: Yesterday, a Japan-Russia foreign ministers’ meeting was held and issues such as joint economic activities on the Northern Territories were discussed. Given that a Japan-Russia summit meeting is being planned in the end of May, how do you evaluate the outcomes of the foreign ministers’ meeting?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: On March 21, Foreign Minister Kono held his fifth foreign ministers’ meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia. The ministers engaged in a frank exchange of views on pressing international issues, such as the situation in North Korea, along with the discussions on bilateral issues such as the issue of the conclusion of a peace treaty. Japan and Russia are important partners in the Asia-Pacific region. With a view to building a stable relationship between our two countries, the Government expects that dialogue and consultations will be advanced at various levels towards Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Russia planned in May.
REPORTER: I have a related question. Foreign Minister Lavrov has expressed strong concerns over Japan’s deployment of the Aegis Ashore system. It has become a matter that could hinder territorial negotiations. How does the Government intend to respond?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Japan’s missile defense systems are purely of a defensive nature and necessary for protecting the Japanese people’s lives and property. In addition, the systems are operated at Japan’s discretion and do not pose any threat to neighboring countries, including Russia. We have explained this point at our meetings with Russia, including at the most recent meeting. In any event, under a basic policy of resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and concluding a peace treaty, the Government will continue to engage tenaciously in negotiations with Russia.
REPORTER: President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has suggested that he would propose a trilateral summit meeting among the United States, the ROK and North Korea. How would the Government see this, while it is subject to the progress to be made in the upcoming inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea summit meetings?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, while we understand that arrangements are being made for the summit meetings between the ROK and North Korea and the U.S. and North Korea, I would like to refrain from making comments any further. In any event, there is no change to Japan’s policy of continuing to engage in close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation and use all means to apply maximum pressure on North Korea so as to make it change its policies. The recent meetings demonstrated our close collaboration among Japan, the U.S. and the ROK, including the Japan-U.S. summit telephone talk on March 9, a series of meetings during the visit to Japan by Mr. Seo Hoon, Director of the National Intelligence Service of the ROK, on March 12 and 13, the Japan-ROK summit telephone talk on March 16, and Foreign Minister Kono’s recent meetings with relevant senior officials in the U.S. Government, including Vice President Pence, during his visit to the United States and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha of the ROK.
REPORTER: According to some press reports the Japan-China-ROK trilateral summit meeting is set to be held in early May. Since late last year you have stated that the Government is aiming to hold the summit meeting in around spring. Could you tell us the current status of arrangements?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is coordinating with China and the ROK as the chair of the next Japan-China-ROK summit meeting with a view to holding the summit meeting as early as possible at a mutually convenient time. At this point in time I would like to refrain from making comments any further, including the exact date of the meeting.
REPORTER: Returning to the issue of North Korea, there are some press reports that the Government has indicated to North Korea that it would be open to a summit meeting with North Korea. Could you tell us whether such reports are true?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making comments on each of the individual press reports. In any event, the Government is using various opportunities and means to communicate with North Korea, including the Japan-North Korea Intergovernmental Consultations and the embassy route in Beijing. I would like to refrain from disclosing specific details.
REPORTER: Are we to understand then that the Government policy has not been directed towards engaging in dialogue with North Korea?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Our policy to date remains unchanged. On the basis of cooperation with the United States and the ROK, the Government will deal with the situation towards a comprehensive resolution of the outstanding nuclear, missile and abduction issues and make responses from a perspective of what would be the most effective means.

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