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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 7, 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]

REPORTER: Do you have any update on the preparation of the visit to Japan by the Director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of the Republic of Korea (ROK), which was also raised in this morning’s press conference?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the current point, the visit has not been confirmed. We are currently coordinating with the ROK with a view to realizing the visit as early as possible.
REPORTER: When the Director of the NIS visits Japan, will he speak directly with the Prime Minister, yourself, or the Foreign Minister?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing specific has been determined yet. I expect that such kind of arrangements would be made. We also need to pay attention to the schedule.
REPORTER: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement (TPP11), which Japan has taken a leading role in the negotiations, is due to be signed on March 9, Japan time. Could you tell us what kind of role you envision Japan will play in the economy of the Pacific region going forward? Does Japan have any intention to take on a new leadership role?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Minister Motegi will be attending the signing ceremony on a four-day itinerary that involves no over-night stays. Given that Japan played the key coordinating role during the negotiations, it will also be signing it as a key member. In the sense that the agreement will start with 11 nations, it is expected to serve as a significant model for free trade around the world. It is already the case that a number of countries have already indicated their desire to accede to the TPP Agreement since we created this agreement. The Government seeks to ensure the further development of the Asia-Pacific economy under free and fair rules, including the accession of new members to the agreement.
REPORTER: What role do you envisage for Japan in that process?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Among the 12 initial parties to the TPP Agreement, the United States will not sign on this occasion, which makes Japan the largest economy to have joined the agreement. We therefore seek to play a central role in promoting truly free and fair trade. This is an extremely important point and such a step will likely play a major role in Japan’s future.
REPORTER: Given that the Trump administration continues to espouse an America First policy, do you still want the United States to rejoin the TPP, even if this policy does not change? Or would the Government prefer to engage in bilateral negotiations with the United States?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Unless you seek free trade, it is not possible to join the TPP. With regard to this point, the United States has also made similar statements.
REPORTER: I have a related question. With regard to the import restrictions on steel and aluminum proposed by the U.S., President Trump has stated that with the exception of Mexico and Canada, which are in the process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), there will be no exception unless the U.S. gets something in return. This indicates the possibility that the restrictions would also be imposed on Japan. Given that the Government has already explained its position to the U.S., can I ask for a comment about the proposed measures?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the current point, the Government of the United States has yet to announce the details of the measures that it will impose, and we do not know therefore how it will apply them. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seko has already conveyed to United States Secretary of Commerce Ross that imports of steel and aluminum from Japan, an ally of the United States, will not adversely impact the United States’ security. In addition, Foreign Minister Kono has explained Japan’s concerns on a number of occasions through diplomatic channels, including to United States Trade Representative Lighthizer. We will continue to watch closely the responses by the Government of the United States and respond appropriately.
REPORTER: Yesterday, Prime Minister Abe held telephone talks with the leaders of Canada and Australia respectively and exchanged views on the issue of steel and aluminum. Does the Government intend to work with these and other countries in seeking the understanding of the United States?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just explained, we are interacting with the United States at various levels, including at the summit level. Meanwhile, at the current point of time, I would like to refrain from making comments on future interactions concerning the handling of this matter based on conjecture.
REPORTER: I have a question about the situation in North Korea. It has been reported that yesterday Prime Minister Abe gave instructions to Diet member Mr. Katsuyuki Kawai, who is currently visiting the United States, to convey Japan’s position that a firm commitment towards denuclearization needs to be secured from North Korea. Could you tell us what specific instructions the Prime Minister gave to Mr. Kawai?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on the details of the Prime Minister’s interactions with Diet member Mr. Kawai. In any event, with regard to the response to North Korea, the Government’s position is that dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea is meaningless. There is no change to our view that it is of the utmost importance for North Korea to commit to the abandonment of its nuclear and missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and take concrete actions towards denuclearization.
REPORTER: To date the Government has worked with the United States based on a policy of keep applying pressures on North Korea until it seeks dialogue. What is the Government’s current evaluation of the impact of its concerted efforts with the international community to apply pressure and impose sanctions?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Our understanding is that strengthened international pressure against North Korea has led to the recent initiatives  to proceed inter-Korean dialogue and pursue a diplomatic charm offensive. Meanwhile, it is important to continue to engage in Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, as well as work together with the international community, including China and Russia, using all means to apply maximum pressure on North Korea until it changes its policies.

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