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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Japan-U.S. relations (Okinawa related issues)
  • The TPP
  • The Takeshima Day on February 22

REPORTER: I have a question concerning Futenma Air Station in Okinawa. A meeting of Cabinet ministers concerned with Okinawa issues was recently held and according to some press reports the Government has decided to go ahead with the land reclamation application at Henoko in March. What are the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No decision has yet been made in terms of specific timing.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister is scheduled to depart for his visit to the United States tomorrow. I believe that he is likely to engage with President Obama concerning the issue of Futenma Air Station and the land reclamation application. Does the Prime Minister intend to convey a specific timetable for the reclamation to the U.S. side?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is my understanding that the Prime Minister has no such plans to mention anything to do with the timing of the land reclamation project in the Japan-U.S. summit meeting.

REPORTER: Is the Futenma issue one that is likely to be raised as an agenda item for the Summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, the primary and most significant purpose of the Summit meeting on this occasion will be for the leaders to have a frank exchange of opinions on a wide range of topics, including the situation in the Asia-Pacific region, starting with the issue of North Korea. The Prime Minister also seeks to use the meeting to make it clear both at home and overseas that both countries wishes to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance. These are the major current issues and it is against this backdrop that the summit meeting will take place.


REPORTER: With regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the Government's stance is that Japan will not join the negotiations as long as the requirement for participation is that the Japanese Government makes prior commitment to eliminate tariffs with no sanctuary. There are some who have questioned how this stance will be translated and put across to the U.S. side in the Japan-U.S. summit meeting and who suggest that a clearer stance should be put forth. What are your views on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It will naturally be the case that the Prime Minister will be making his own statements in the summit meeting, in his own words, and as I have said before, the point about the elimination of tariffs with no sanctuary  is no more and no less than that. This is the position of Japan that has been conveyed on numerous occasions and I believe that in the summit meeting the Prime Minister will naturally state this position clearly.

REPORTER: Will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs be making this position clear, in an English translation, prior to the summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of any such activities.

REPORTER: "Takeshima Day," which is being hosted and organized by Shimane Prefecture will be held in two days' time, on February 22. Has the response of the Government to ceremonybeing planned by Shimane Prefecture been decided?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: No decisions have yet been made and arrangements are in the process of being finalized.


REPORTER: With regard to Okinawa, the Government of Japan has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce the burden of U.S. bases on the prefecture. With regard to the return of all U.S. bases and facilities south of Kadena, when the plan was initially drawn up the aim was to achieve the return of these areas by December last year. That schedule, however, has been put back. In the Japan-U.S. summit meeting is it expected that this topic and moves to promote the return of bases and facilities south of Kadena will be raised?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have recently stated, I am not aware of what topics will be tabled for discussion at the summit meeting. However, the issue of reducing the burden on Okinawa is one that is being advanced in accordance with the agreement between Japan and the United States and naturally, therefore, all efforts will be made towards achieving that goal, including at the working level.

REPORTER: There are press reports that suggest that when you met with Ambassador Roos of the United States, you indicated that in the Japan-U.S. summit meeting Prime Minister Abe would talk specifically about the land reclamation application at Henoko. However, you have just stated in this press conference that no specific reference to the application is likely to be made in the summit meeting. Did you actually speak with Ambassador Roos about this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I did not speak about this issue at all.


REPORTER: On a related note, in your meeting with Ambassador Roos, did the issue of the land reclamation application come up at all?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There were no discussions on such specific issues. We met for approximately 20 minutes, speaking through interpreters. It was also the first time for me to meet with the ambassador.

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