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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

I would like to begin with an overview of the first Cabinet meeting.

The Statement by the Prime Minister and the Basic Policy were decided as shown in the materials that have been distributed to you.

Next, the Prime Minister made a statement concerning the prior designation of ministers who would serve as the acting Prime Minister pursuant to Article 9 of the Cabinet Act. The following ministers will serve as the acting Prime Minister according to the following order of precedence: first is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Aso; second is myself, Chief Cabinet Secretary; third is Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Amari; fourth is Minister in charge of Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan Ishiba; and fifth is Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida.

Next, it was decided that the Headquarters for Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan will be established, the details of which have been distributed to you. With that, the first Cabinet meeting was concluded.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting mutual agreement was reached for Cabinet members to return a portion of their ministerial remuneration, in the same way as the previous Cabinet. With that, ministerial discussions were concluded.

I will announce the appointment of State Ministers and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers tomorrow.


  • The Cabinet member after reshuffle of the cabinet

REPORTER: You have remained in your position as Chief Cabinet Secretary in the reshuffled Cabinet. Could you tell us about the kind of role you think that you are required to fulfil in this position?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, in my role as Chief Cabinet Secretary, it is of the utmost importance that I ensure the necessary environment for all Cabinet members to work together as one in advancing the Basic Policy of the Cabinet as set forth recently by the Prime Minister. Another role that I believe is strongly required of the Cabinet Secretary is to eliminate the potential harmful effects of vertical administrative structures that we see on a daily basis, thus enabling the necessary progress on various issues. One recent example of this is the decision that was made to relax visa procedures. This was the result of the relevant Cabinet ministers coming together with a view towards promoting tourism. These are the roles that I will endeavor to fulfil.

In addition, following this reshuffle I have been assigned to the position of Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa. Given the fact that more than 70 percent of all United States military facilities are concentrated in Okinawa, the ministers concerned will cooperate and do all we can to alleviate the burden of the bases, while remaining mindful of the feelings of the people of Okinawa. In order to put these Cabinet policies into action, I am committed to making every effort to bring forth results as the minister responsible.

REPORTER: As you have just noted, you have been appointed as Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa. Are we to understand that this position replaces your previous position as Minister in charge of Strengthening National Security?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, I have received clear instructions from the Prime Minister that I am to be the Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa.

REPORTER: Could you please explain the aims of this? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just mentioned, the bases of U.S. Forces Japan provide a deterrence capability, but it is the case that more than 70 percent of these bases are concentrated in Okinawa. After I was appointed to my current position I visited Okinawa where I acutely felt that the Government had not been sufficiently mindful of the feelings of the people of Okinawa. Therefore, based on the policy set forth by the Prime Minister that the Cabinet should do all that it is possible to do, I believe that the Prime Minister appointed me as Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa to produce tangible results.

REPORTER: With regard to your appointment as Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa, to date you have played a central role in issues relating to relieving the burden. Therefore, could you tell us what specific aspects of your efforts to date will change following your appointment to this new position? Also, in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly today a letter of opinion calling for the halting of the construction work for the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko was approved by a majority of assembly members. Could I ask for your thoughts on this outcome?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Since the inauguration of the Abe administration the Government has worked to advance policies designed to reduce the burden of the bases on the people of Okinawa, while remaining mindful of their feelings. In actual fact the relocation of 15 KC-130 tanker aircraft to Iwakuni Air Station has already been completed. In addition, other specific measures are already in motion, such as the relocation of more than half of the Osprey transport aircraft from Okinawa to the Japanese mainland. Having been appointed as the minister in charge, I believe it is important that I act with responsibility and ensure that we are able to implement such measures, so as to more concretely realize the alleviation of the burden of the bases on Okinawa. At the same time, with regard to Futenma Air Station, I have visited the site myself and it makes sense that we should take action to eliminate the dangers it presents without delay, given that it is currently located in such a densely populated area.

Relocation to Henoko was considered to be the best option based on such factors as the deterrence capability of U.S. Forces and the elimination of the dangers posed by the current site. In light of this Governor Nakaima granted approval for the relocation at the end of last year. In my opinion, therefore, it is important that we steadily proceed with the relocation plan, based on the proposed landfill site at Henoko.

REPORTER: Returning to the Basic Policy of the Cabinet, at the time of the inauguration of the previous Abe Cabinet, Prime Minister Abe gave instructions to Cabinet members to engage in work based on three major priority areas: economic revival, acceleration of reconstruction, and thorough crisis management. What instructions has the Prime Minister given to the new Cabinet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the Basic Policy has been distributed to you. It contains the seven points that the Prime Minister made in his instructions to the Cabinet. These are the acceleration of reconstruction, economic revival, vitalizing local economies, the realization of a society in which women shine, revival of education, peace of mind in daily life, diplomacy, and review of national security. These seven points have been set forth in the Prime Minister’s Basic Policy and the entire Cabinet will therefore make every effort to engage in actions relating to these points.

REPORTER: Are these further policies, which have been added to the three key policies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The three main pillars remain as they are and today the Prime Minister instructed all Cabinet members to achieve these further objectives set out in the Basic Policy.

REPORTER: I have a question about a different matter. In the previous Cabinet you initially gave instructions that, with regard to matters such as the understanding of history, your statements on such matters would represent Cabinet policy. Did you make any similar statement today?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I explained that all statements by the Prime Minister and I should of course represent Cabinet policy.

REPORTER: What did you specifically say?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I explained that the Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary determine the Cabinet policy, and I asked that all ministers would remain in line with this policy. I noted that as ministers they will be questioned about policy and on such occasions they should not express personal opinions, and should instead base all comments on the Cabinet policy.

REPORTER: Prime Minister Abe has stated that he seeks to engage in “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map.” However, summit meetings with Japan’s nearest neighbors China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have yet to be realized. Following the Cabinet reshuffle what measures will be taken to make a fresh start in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, both China and the ROK are extremely important neighboring countries for Japan, both for the Government and the public in general. We will continue to ensure that our door is always open to dialogue and various negotiations are currently underway. Our basic stance continues to be that even though we may face difficult issues, rather than not meeting, it is important that we engage in dialogue.

REPORTER: The Headquarters for Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan was established today. Could you tell us how the Headquarters will operate, including the holding of its first meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Ishiba has been formally appointed to this ministerial post and he will be talking about his new post in a press conference to be held later today.

REPORTER: There are no longer any members in the reshuffled Cabinet from the regions affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Taking this situation also into consideration, could you tell us your views on the Government’s stance towards reconstruction?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The very first point listed on the Basic Policy issued by the Prime Minister today is reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. This point was the first of the instructions given by the Prime Minister. Regardless of whether or not there are any Cabinet members from the affected regions, all ministers will work as one to advance reconstruction. There is absolutely no change in this stance.

REPORTER: In the previous Cabinet Minister Mori was the minister in charge of dealing with the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets. Who has jurisdiction over this issue in the reshuffled Cabinet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Minister of Justice Matsushima has received instructions to take charge of matters relating to this issue.

REPORTER: The Second Abe Cabinet was the longest-serving Cabinet in post-war history in which no ministers resigned or were replaced. During this period I believe you have cautioned ministers about their words and actions. The rapid start made by the Cabinet was also memorable. Could you therefore tell us your thoughts about the new Cabinet line-up?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Cabinet must work as a team under the leadership of the Prime Minister and therefore, for the most part, statements of personal opinions cannot be permitted. I believe Cabinet members should therefore be expected to make statements as members of the Abe Cabinet. As with the previous Cabinet it is my wish that the newly reshuffled Cabinet will work as a unit, thus enabling it to respond to the expectations of the people of Japan.

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