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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The TPP
  • The relocation of Futenma Air Station
  • An explosion of a hot air balloon in Luxor, Egypt involving Japanese nationals
  • The enforcement of the supplementary budget relating to reconstruction

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It seems that this is being debated today too within the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP). It seems that objections are being raised over the LDP Board's decision to leave the Prime Minister to the discretion of deciding whether Japan will join the TPP negotiations. Some LDP members are requesting a Joint Plenary Meeting of Party Members of Both Houses of the Diet. How does the Government intend to set the stage towards Japan's participation in the negotiations?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, the LDP Board has left it up to the decision of the Prime Minister. That said, there are many LDP Diet members who are knowledgeable about the various issues, including agricultural issues. Therefore, the Prime Minister will decide what will ultimately be done while carefully listening to the opinions of these members. I believe their opinions will not, or are not, interfering with the decision in any way. This matter will be handled while listening sincerely to these opinions.

REPORTER: When you say you are going to listen sincerely, will there be some kind of an opportunity then for the Prime Minister/LDP President to provide an explanation to LDP Diet members, for example, at the LDP Joint Plenary Meeting of Party Members of Both Houses of the Diet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally we will be open to receiving such requests from the representatives.

REPORTER: So you will be doing that if requested.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, by the representatives.

REPORTER: Assuming Japan decides to join the TPP negotiations, will the Government then set up a new organization pertaining to the TPP within the Government in order to obtain the people's understanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not yet gotten that far.


REPORTER: My question concerns the Futenma Air Station of the U.S. forces. With regard to the fishery operators' consent to the application for land reclamation in Henoko, Nago City, the Nago Fisheries Cooperative Association has indicated its intent to obtain the consent of Association members with regard to the land reclamation application, ahead of agreeing to the negotiations with the Government over compensation. Can you please share the views of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government will naturally take steadfast steps to carry out what Japan and the U.S. have decided. This will be done while asking for the understanding of the Okinawan people, which forms the basis of any action we should take. The arrangements are currently being made in this direction. Also, at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, the Prime Minister noted on the swift return of the facilities of the U.S. forces south of Kadena during his meeting with the President, and the two leaders shared the same view. In this context, we would also like to have the entire process move forward.


REPORTER: An explosion of a hot air balloon in Luxor, Egypt has resulted in Japanese casualties. If there is anything you know about the situation, could you please share that with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that on February 26, at 6:30 am local time, a hot air balloon crashed in a suburb of Luxor and four Japanese people aboard the hot air balloon have died. I would like to express my sincere condolences to the four people who have passed away. With regard to the response of the Government, based on this information or report, three embassy staff have been dispatched to the site and are assisting with the confirmation of the bodies of the Japanese victims. In addition, Japanese Ambassador to Egypt Okuda has requested the Governor of Luxor Governorate to investigate the causes of the accident and to prevent its reoccurrence. Furthermore, I understand that the Governor expressed his condolences to the Japanese victims and stated that the Egyptian Government will set up an investigation committee for this accident and make utmost efforts to determine the causes and take countermeasures.

REPORTER: Regarding the enforcement of the supplementary budget, in particular, in the sense of promoting effective reconstruction programs, can you please explain your views regarding the need for properly reviewing the program content and checking the enforcement status of the supplementary budget?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As there were various problems with the reconstruction budget, at the meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council in January, the Prime Minister instructed that the relevant ministries and agencies, including the Reconstruction Agency, take careful steps to ensure appropriate enforcement. Also, in order to ensure appropriate enforcement, the respective ministers are also being instructed to undertake thorough confirmations and develop measures which can be implemented quickly. We will take these steps while carrying out thorough verifications.

REPORTER: Chief Cabinet Secretary, related to this, you stated "appropriate enforcement" a moment ago. During the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan, for example, one of the problems was the diversion of the reconstruction budget, such as for road construction in places unrelated to the disaster area. In principle, by appropriate enforcement, is it correct to understand that you believe the use of the reconstruction budget should be restricted to the disaster area?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In principle, yes. However, there are slight exceptions for emergency locations. I tell ministers to prevent the occurrence of anything that would be totally unacceptable in the eyes of the people or would be subject to criticism. 


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