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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 7, 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: On May 1, the Prime Minister officially announced that the Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) Trilateral Summit Meeting is to take place on May 9. Given that this summit meeting is being held at a time when relevant countries become more actively engaged in efforts related to the denuclearization of North Korea, could you tell us what outcomes the Government is expecting from the summit meeting, particularly with regard to North Korea, and what kind of message the Government wishes to send to the international community?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is of the utmost significance that the three leaders of Japan, China and the ROK, which bear responsibility for peace and security in the region, are meeting together for the first time in two-and-a-half years. This year marks the 10th anniversary since the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting was held as a standalone event. The Government therefore wishes to use the upcoming Trilateral Summit Meeting as an opportunity to make a new start towards the next ten years, while reviewing the future-oriented cooperation among Japan, China and the ROK that is being advanced in a broad range of areas. In particular, the Government recognizes that this summit meeting is being held at a very important juncture, very soon after the Inter-Korean Summit and ahead of the upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. We are therefore seeking to confirm with China and the ROK once again that we will continue to deepen our collaboration towards the abandonment by North Korea of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and towards the early resolution of abduction issue, which is of the highest priority.
REPORTER: I have a question about the internationally protected crested ibis. Reports in the press are suggesting that an agreement will be made that China will present a pair of crested ibises to Japan at the summit meeting on May 9 between Prime Minister Abe and Premier Li Keqiang of China. Could you please tell us the facts?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From the perspective of maintaining genetic diversity, the Government has previously requested China to provide new crested ibises to Japan. I would like to refrain from making comments at the current point about how this matter will be handled in the summit meeting.
REPORTER: With regard to the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting, it was reported that Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou of China stated that the North Korean issues would not be a major topic of this summit. Is it the Government’s recognition that issues relating to North Korea, including the missile and abduction issues, will be major issues to be discussed during the summit meeting?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted, the Government wishes to define the upcoming Trilateral Summit Meeting as an opportunity to make a new start towards the next ten years. Under such recognition, the Government wishes to promote cooperation as Japan, China and the ROK are three important countries that bear an extremely important responsibility for the peace and prosperity of the region. With regard to the North Korean issues, which you have just mentioned, it is a matter of course that we will confirm once again those points that we have stated in the past such as the dismantlement in a final and irreversible manner and the early resolution of the abduction issue, which is of the highest priority, as well as the implementation of the UN resolutions .
REPORTER: I have a question concerning the inscription of a natural World Heritage site. On May 4, an advisory body to UNESCO recommended that the inscription of four islands in Okinawa and Kagoshima should be deferred. What is the Government’s analysis of the reasons behind this recommendation and how will the Government respond?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, while it is a very disappointing outcome, the recommendation also indicated that the four islands have potential for inscription as a natural World Heritage site and the status of protection and management at the sites was highly regarded. There is no change to the Government’s intention of seeking the early inscription of the site. We will be closely analyzing the contents of the recommendations by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In consultation with experts, related bodies and local governments, the relevant ministries and agencies will work together to formulate a strategy going forward.
REPORTER: There was also a proposal to include the tract of land returned from the Northern Training Area in Okinawa. Does the Government consider that the status of environmental conservation of the returned land has been properly maintained?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The IUCN indicated that the area that will not be returned and remain as part of the Northern Training Area functions effectively as a buffer zone to the area that has been nominated. It was also noted that the area contributes to the continuity of the landscape and to the important habitats in the region, so I do not think that this had any particular impact on the screening by the IUCN.
REPORTER: I have a question related to the maritime and aerial communication mechanism between Japan and China. Some press reports are suggesting that the mechanism will be formally agreed, with the exception of the area surrounding the Senkaku Islands. Could you confirm the facts behind these reports?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that there are various press reports on that. Japan and China are in the process of making final arrangements towards the early launch of the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism between Japanese and Chinese defense authorities. I would like to refrain from making comments at this point. It is at the stage of final arrangements.
REPORTER: An advisory body to UNESCO has recommended that the “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki and Amakusa Region” be included in the World Heritage List. Can I ask for a comment from the Government on this recommendation and how it is hoped the inscription will help to vitalize local communities?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki and Amakusa Region,” which is recommended by Japan, the result of the assessment of the advisory panel of the World Heritage Committee was notified by UNESCO and the site received a recommendation that it was appropriate for inscription on the World Cultural Heritage List. I would like to express my respect for the efforts of all members of the local communities towards the recommendation. Their efforts and the value of the site itself were recognized and resulted in such assessment. The Government will continue to make every effort to ensure that the site is registered at the World Heritage Committee in the summer as recommended.
REPORTER: Members of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea have visited the United States to seek the cooperation of the U.S. Government for the immediate return to Japan of all victims of abduction by North Korea. Mr. Takuya Yokota, the brother of Ms. Megumi Yokota, said that key persons in the U.S. Government understand the situation of the abductions and that he will closely watch diplomatic negotiations towards the release of all abductees with the expectation that progress will be made. He has also stated that until the return to Japan of all abductees is achieved the sanctions should not be easily lifted. What is your view on these statements?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Many years have now passed since the abductions by North Korea and it is a source of tremendous sorrow for the Government that, with the exception of the five abductees who returned to Japan in 2002, the return of the abductees has yet to be realized. When we think of the feelings of the abductees’ families, there should be no more delays. In the recent Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting, President Trump provided strong assurance that he would raise the abduction issue in the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting and do his best. The Government hopes that the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting will be a historic meeting and that the situation will lead to a breakthrough towards the resolution of the abduction issue afterwards. At the same time, we remain determined to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea and urge it to take a decision towards the early resolution of the abduction issue using international pressure as leverage.

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