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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, November 17, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (PM)(Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Japan-China relations
  • The issue of coral poaching


REPORTER: As Prime Minister Abe has wrapped up his series of diplomatic visits and will be returning to Japan today, I would like to ask three questions in relation to Japan-China relations. Recently, the Japanese and Chinese Governments compiled a document titled “Regarding Discussions toward Improving Japan-China Relations,” which includes a section on how both sides have come to share views on the situation in the Senkaku Islands. More than a week has passed since then. Has China expressed readiness to engage in dialogue with Japan with a view to easing the tense situations? What is your view, Chief Cabinet Secretary?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you just stated, the four-point document you referred to was released on November 7. Afterwards, on November 10, a Japan-China summit meeting was held, at which both leaders concurred to improve bilateral relations based on the concept of the “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.” Also at this meeting, both leaders shared the view to establish a maritime communication mechanism between the defense authorities of the two countries in order to prevent unforeseen circumstances in the East China Sea. I expect that there will be discussions to this end at the working level.

REPORTER: My second question is in regard to the media reports that China Coast Guard vessels have navigated the contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands from the 14th to the 17th of this month after the summit meeting. What is the position of the Japanese Government on whether this constitutes a proper act, in light of the spirit of the agreement document setting out that both sides would prevent the deterioration of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The position of Japan is clear-cut. If there is an intrusion into Japanese territorial waters, then we will seek the exit of the intruding vessels. That is all.

REPORTER: My last question. I understand that the issue of the poaching of coral near the Ogasawara Islands was discussed at today’s meeting of the council of the Government and ruling parties. What changes in the situation or signs have you seen since the Japan-China summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Even before the summit meeting, Chinese coral vessels have been found in Japan’s territorial waters as well as in the seas around the Ogasawara Islands, and Japan has strongly requested the exit of the vessels. The Japanese side also made this request during the Japan-China foreign ministers’ meeting. At times there were up to around 200 coral vessels. Today, I understand the number is down to 58 vessels. In any case, Japan will strongly request that China take responses until the number is zero.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm one item which was asked at this morning’s press conference. Chief Cabinet Secretary, during this morning’s press conference, you stated that the Government would take steps after hearing the views of the Governor-elect of Okinawa Prefecture regarding the promotion and development of Okinawa. Is there any chance that the Government will revise the Prime Minister’s pledge to secure an amount in the 300 billion yen range for the promotion and development of Okinawa every year for the next decade until FY2021?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, with regard to the measures for the promotion and development of Okinawa, the Government will not be spending funds recklessly. In that sense, we will take action appropriately upon reviewing the views of the Governor-elect. 

REPORTER: Do you have any plans to convene another meeting of the Okinawa Policy Council or other committees with the new Governor in attendance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the details, firstly, the new Governor has not yet assumed office. After he has assumed office, the Government, as it has always done, will first listen to the views of the Governor and take action appropriately. I believe this is only natural.

REPORTER: If I may ask just one more question. You stated that there is no change at all to the Government’s intention of making utmost efforts for the termination of operations of Futenma Air Station.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no change at all.

REPORTER: Are you saying that even the February 2019 deadline remains unchanged?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Of course. As this was strongly requested by Governor Nakaima, the Government will take steps in accordance with the Governor’s request. There is no change at all.

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