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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, September 4, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The ceremony of the commemorate victory in the War of Resistance against Japan in China
  • Japan-China summit meeting
  • Alleviating the burden of the bases in Okinawa
  • The number of Ebola virus disease


REPORTER: Yesterday, on September 3, China held an official ceremony for the Commemorate Victory in the War of Resistance against Japan. President Xi Jinping delivered an address that afternoon in which he commented on the visits of some Japanese politicians to Yasukuni Shrine and Japanese attempts to glorify the war of aggression. The President sharply criticized Japan’s neglect of historical facts as a challenge against Chinese common sense. Do these criticisms have any validity?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, there is no change to Japan’s position regarding the issue of history, including World War II. Since the end of WWII, Japan has followed the path of a peace-loving nation. This has garnered significant praise from the international community. There is no mistake about it. With regard to visits to Yasukuni Shrine, I believe it is the same in any country to solemnly pray for the repose of the souls of all those who died for the country. Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. To date, Japan has followed the course of a peace-loving nation, and we perceive that this is understood by the world. 

REPORTER: Regarding this matter, it is anticipated that China will be holding this official commemorate ceremony every year on September 3. Meanwhile, Japan wishes to hold a Japan-China summit meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting. What are the prospects of the summit meeting taking place? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, the holding of a Chinese event and its content are Chinese domestic issues, so the Government of Japan would like to refrain from making comments. However, as I stated moments ago, for nearly 70 years since the end of WWII, Japan has steadily followed the path of a peace-loving nation. This has garnered significant praise from many countries. I think this is a fact.

REPORTER: Are you then saying that Mr. Xi Jinping’s criticisms in the earlier question have no validity?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, since the end of WWII, for approximately 70 years, Japan has followed the path of a peace-loving nation and made efforts for peace and prosperity in the world, including in Asia, of course. I deem that this has garnered praise from many people and many countries. With regard to the APEC issue, we will not shy away from dialogue just because there are challenges or issues between the two countries. The Abe administration has consistently stated that the door for dialogue is always open. Japan hopes to deepen Japan-China relations based on the fundamental concept of promoting a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.

REPORTER: A related question. In his address, Mr. Xi Jinping touched on friendship between Japan and China. Does the Japanese Government view that China’s approach towards Japan is slightly changing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is a domestic matter for China. That said, Japan’s door for dialogue is always open. It is a fact that China and Japan are the second and third largest economies in the world. Furthermore, we consider that the two countries are both responsible for peace and prosperity in the region. In this light, Japan has identified the bilateral friendship to be of critical importance.

REPORTER: Concerning this same topic, I recognize the very importance of the Japanese and Chinese leaders meeting in the form of a bilateral summit meeting. But provided that they meet, the two sides will of course need to discuss specific issues. In your view, which specific challenges and issues between Japan and China are critical at this moment in time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is true that a variety of issues exist. China and Japan have significant responsibility both to the world and to the economy as the second and third largest economies in the world, respectively. They also bear responsibility for peace and security in neighboring countries. The world is closely following the situation in this regard. Therefore, we have consistently maintained the position that Japan’s door for dialogue is always open, ever since the inauguration of the administration. We will not shy away from meeting because there are issues. We believe it is important to meet to discuss these issues.

REPORTER: You have been appointed Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa. Over the years, the Minister of State for Okinawa Affairs, the Minister of Defense, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs have all respectively addressed the issue of alleviating the burden of the bases in Okinawa. In this context, how will this work be divided among the different ministers? How will the ministers be working together? Will the Prime Minister’s Office be leading the work, with you serving as the control tower?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Let me clarify first. As I have stated numerous times in these press conferences, it is a fact that over 70% of the bases of the U.S. Forces in Japan are currently located in Okinawa Prefecture, which makes up less than 1% of Japan’s total land area. At the same time, however, it is essential in view of deterrence that the U.S. Forces remain stationed in Japan. In this regard, it has been the consistent intent of the administration to remove the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station as quickly as possible, and to proceed with the land reclamation work in Henoko. In late December last year, we received Governor Nakaima’s approval for the land reclamation. Accordingly, we will steadily carry out the land reclamation work. Okinawa still hosts over 70% of the bases. The Government stands with the people of Okinawa, and will work to produce steady results towards alleviating the burden in a visible way. We consider this critically important. In this sense, I will be serving as Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa, a ministerial position with a clear message attached to it. 

REPORTER: A related question. It is important to remove the dangers of Futenma. However, some people in Henoko also point out that the construction of a new base there would lead to strengthening base functions and increasing burdens in the host area. Will the Government not be listening to such opinions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe it was 18 years ago that Japan and the United States reached an agreement with the understanding of then-Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and then-Mayor. The construction work is being carried out on this basis. The Government has made consistent efforts towards this goal based on the belief that the relocation of Futenma to Henoko is the only viable solution, in view of the deterrence offered by the bases of the U.S. Forces and removing the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station. We finally obtained the Governor’s approval of the land reclamation at the end of last year; and therefore the Government will steadily proceed with the work.


REPORTER: On September 3, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the number of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases has reached about 3,500 and deaths have exceeded 1,900. According to the United Nations, at least 63 billion Japanese yen is needed to contain the disease. In a recent press conference, you stated that Japan stands ready to provide T-705 Avigan. Have you received any requests or inquiries from the WHO or other countries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to EVD, the number of cases and deaths has continued to increase, according to the WHO. In view of the WHO’s recent declaration of the EVD outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), Japan recognizes that it is incumbent on the international community to respond steadily. Japan is already doing so, including alerting those leaving and returning to Japan, and checking the health conditions of those entering the country. Furthermore, Japan has extended a total of nearly US$3 million in assistance, and deployed personnel as part of Japanese international cooperation efforts. Japan will continue to steadily respond. With regard to your question, I understand that a number of countries have made inquiries. However, as this matter also involves our counterparts, I would like to refrain from commenting on any specifics. The basic view of the Government is that Japan will closely follow the WHO deliberations regarding the use of unapproved pharmaceuticals; and furthermore, that even before the WHO reaches a conclusion, Japan will respond to individual requests in an emergency, provided that certain conditions are met.

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