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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 13, 2016 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
(Abridged)

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the return of the Northern Training Area of U.S. Forces in Okinawa Prefecture. The return of part of the Northern Training Area is planned to take place on December 22 and preparations are being made for a ceremony to mark the return. However, Governor Onaga of Okinawa Prefecture, who has been invited to this ceremony, has indicated that he will not attend. When giving his reasons for not attending, the Governor stated that many people in Okinawa feel that there is something unreasonable about the return. This is a large-scale return of land and normally it would be expected that the prefecture would welcome such a return, so what are your thoughts concerning the response made by the Governor?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am not aware of the specific remarks made by the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the central government on individual statements made by the head of a local government. If I were to say anything further, it would be to note that the final report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) of 1996 states that a majority of the land of the Northern Training Area, comprising approximately 4,000 hectares out of the 7,500 hectare total, would be returned to Japan. The municipalities concerned, Kunigami Village and Higashi Village, have sought the early return of the land, aiming to use them effectively by designating them as national parks, or seeking to achieve their inscription on UNESCO’s list of natural heritage sites. In addition, once the land is returned, the area of the bases of the U.S. Forces in Okinawa Prefecture will decrease by approximately 20%, contributing to the alleviation of the impact of the bases in Okinawa. In any event, given that it has taken 20 years to achieve the return of this land, it would be extremely disappointing if Okinawa Prefecture, which is calling for the reduction of the burden of bases on the prefecture, does not welcome the return.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Could you tell us about the specific details of the third supplementary budget, which you mentioned at the beginning of the press conference?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What I mentioned was the schedule from now. Negotiations among ministers are scheduled to take place on December 19, following which, on December 20, the Cabinet is scheduled to approve the Government’s economic outlook for fiscal 2017. Then, on December 22, it is planned that a Cabinet decision will be made on the third draft supplementary budget for fiscal 2016 and the draft budget for fiscal 2017.

REPORTER: I have a question relating to Diet affairs, given that the current session of the Diet is drawing to a close. The opposition parties have emphasized that full deliberations should take place on the Integrated Resort (IR) bill (the Act on the Promotion of Integrated Resorts), and if the Government attempts to force through the passage of the IR bill and pension reform bill, then the opposition parties are prepared to submit a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet. What is the Government’s view of this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, it is for the Diet to determine all procedures relating to this matter, including whether or not such bills have been deliberated sufficiently. The IR Bill was submitted on the initiative of a cross-party group of Diet members and if requested by the Diet, the Government is prepared to attend deliberations and provide detailed explanations to questions. I believe that is all there is to it.

(Abridged)

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