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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 25, 2020 (PM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

REPORTER: At multiple summit meetings between Japan and China, former Prime Minister Abe conveyed his intention to invite President Xi Jinping on a State Visit to Japan. While his State Visit has been postponed due to the impacts of the novel coronavirus, could you please tell us whether there is no change in the Government’s position to seek his visit?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: With respect to a State Visit by President Xi, as we have explained previously, the first priority for both our countries is to contain the novel coronavirus outbreaks. Therefore, we are not at the stage of making arrangements for a specific schedule or dates at this point.
REPORTER: […] China is intensifying its tensions with the United States in various fields, including trade, security and human rights issues. How does the Government perceive these tensions, which some call a new Cold War? Could you share with us how Japan will approach or engage in these tensions between the United States and China?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: As I mentioned before, when taking a look at the diplomatic environment surrounding Japan in the post-corona era, I raised national particularism, which is rising amidst the novel coronavirus outbreaks, and the tensions between the United States and China, touching upon the possibility that this environment is becoming harder to foresee and manage than ever. Against the backdrop of the global spread of the novel coronavirus, which I have just stated, it is of great importance that the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, build stable relations, from the perspective of the peace and stability of the international community and also for Japan. While advancing cooperation in various forms with our ally the United States based on a robust relationship of trust, it is also important to engage in close communication with China and call on China to fulfil its responsibilities as a major power.
REPORTER: […] There are reports by the media that Japan-China summit telephone talks are due to take place. How does the new administration intend to work to improve Japan-China relations, which are said to have deteriorated? Could you tell us about the new administration’s enthusiasm in that regard and also the Government’s view on the importance of its relations with China?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: This might overlap with my previous responses but, while I refrain from making comments in detail on the arrangement of each telephone talk, we are making efforts to coordinate. In addition, China is the world’s second-largest economic power and the Government recognizes Japan-China relations to be one of the most important bilateral relationships for Japan. It is also a fact that there are various matters of concern with China, but I believe that for the sake of our national interests, it is important to continue to raise those issues that should be raised and resolve those concerns one by one through summit meetings and other opportunities at high levels. We will continue to strongly seek a positive effort from China based on this stance.
REPORTER: I have a question about the issue of climate change. At the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, President Xi Jinping announced that China will strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. This is the first time for China to announce such a long-term goal in a concrete manner. In the case of Japan, it has set a goal of realizing a “decarbonized society” as close as possible to 2050, but given that there is no specific date set for achieving this, it seems inferior to that of China. How does the Government perceive the target announced by China?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: We are of course aware that China announced that it aims to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. We also recognize that climate change is precisely a global challenge that the international community must tackle as a whole, not one to be addressed by a single country alone. Japan will therefore also strive to achieve a “decarbonized society” as close as possible to 2050 based on its Long-term Strategy under the Paris Agreement, which was formulated in June last year. The Government will continue its efforts to reduce emissions, while accelerating a virtuous cycle between the environment and growth through innovation.
REPORTER: […] For the first time ever, the coalition agreement between the ruling parties includes wording on the creation of a decarbonized society, which seems to indicate that the Suga administration is proactive in addressing this issue. Meanwhile, to date, Prime Minister Suga has made few references to the climate change issue himself. Climate change is, as you just noted, a big issue in international politics and Japan’s efforts have been criticized on some occasions. I would like to ask the Government’s view on how it will communicate with a global audience and take the lead in the international community.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Firstly, with regard to Japan’s efforts to date, as you are  aware, it has decreased greenhouse gas emissions for five consecutive years. Among the G20 countries, only Japan and the United Kingdom has achieved that, which is of course something that you are aware of. Furthermore, Japan’s total emissions decrease of 12 percent is second only to the United Kingdom among the G7 countries. Japan has indeed played such a proactive role and, I think, it needs to engage more in public relations activities to communicate that. In addition, Prime Minister Suga has already instructed the relevant ministers to make efforts to bring about a decarbonized society in an early manner by creating a virtuous cycle of the environment and growth, from the perspective of creating innovations that lead to strong economic growth. While a new normal or new mode of daily life in the era of coronavirus is often proclaimed, the importance of tackling climate change remains unchanged. Globally speaking, efforts to tackle global warming and those towards decarbonization are no longer burdens for corporate activities; as seen in the expansion of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment, those efforts enable companies to attract funding and improve their competitiveness, literally serving as a source of competitiveness. That is what I meant by a virtuous cycle of the environment and growth. We intend to achieve such a cycle and have delivered results, day by day, year by year, towards our target, which I mentioned earlier.
REPORTER: I have a question about the collection of personal data by a Chinese company. It was reported by British and Australian media this month that a Chinese state-owned corporate group is suspected to have gathered personal data on approximately 2.4 million people, such as politicians from Europe, the United States and Japan, including former Prime Minister Abe, and used them for espionage. Could you tell us whether the Government is aware of the facts behind these reports, and if they are true, how does the Government intend to respond?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The Government is also aware of the press reports on the collection of personal data of 2.4 million people and its alleged use for espionage purposes. The Government has always refrained from responding to individual press reports, but what I would say is that we recognize that cybersecurity, including the protection of personal data, is an issue of the utmost importance not only for Japan, but for the international community as a whole. From the perspective of protecting sensitive information, including personal data, the Government considers that Japan must continue to make a thorough response, while paying close attention to international trends.
REPORTER: I have a question about the link between the mitigation of the impact of bases and the promotion and development of Okinawa, as well as about the meeting between Governor Tamaki of Okinawa Prefecture and Prime Minister Suga. On September 24, in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, Governor Tamaki stated that the prefectural government recognizes the issues related to the bases and the promotion and development of Okinawa as separate issues, denying a link between the two. Could I ask for the Government’s recognition on this point? Governor Tamaki has also indicated that he would like to travel to Tokyo to meet with Prime Minister Suga and relevant Cabinet ministers, so can I ask if the Suga Cabinet intends to hold a meeting at an early juncture?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: As the Government has stated previously, we consider that, for the development of Okinawa, it is necessary to comprehensively address the issues related to the bases, including the mitigation of their impact, and also the advancement of measures for the promotion and development of Okinawa, including the use of the former sites of returned bases, as important policy challenges. As a matter of fact, the Government does not consider that advancement in the issues related to the bases and allocations of a specific budget for promotion and development are directly connected to one another. However, in the sense that both issues need to be addressed comprehensively as a whole, the Government refers to them as being linked, and has explained this on numerous occasions. I will refrain from presuming the Prime Minister’s schedule, but, in any event, policy on Okinawa is a very important issue for the Cabinet.
REPORTER: As you have just stated that issues relating to Okinawa are very important for the Cabinet, I have one more question, about the incident when a helicopter crashed and burned three years ago. Okinawa Prefectural Police have today sent the case to the public prosecutor’s office, but without being able to identify who was piloting the helicopter at the time, in relation to this incident three years ago, in which a U.S. military helicopter crashed and burst into flames on privately owned land in Takae, Higashi Village in northern Okinawa. The police requested that the name and affiliation of the pilot be disclosed, but the terms of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) prevented the disclosure. How does the Government perceive this matter? In Okinawa, there have been a number of incidents involving U.S. military aircraft crashes in which it has not been possible to obtain the cooperation of U.S. Forces concerning the identification of individuals. Can I ask for the view of the Government on this point?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The incident you are referring to occurred on October 11, 2017, involving a U.S. military transport helicopter, which made an emergency landing and burst into flames in Takae, Higashi Village, Kunigashira District, Okinawa Prefecture. I have heard that today, the Okinawa Prefectural Police sent the case to the public prosecutor’s office after having conducted the necessary investigations. I understand that in accordance with the provisions of SOFA and other relevant laws and regulations, the police conducted an appropriate investigation, obtaining the necessary cooperation from the U.S. authorities and other concerned parties.

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