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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 28, 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the Prime Minister’s visit to Pearl Harbor. Some key points of this visit that made an impression were the vow to never again wage war, the power of reconciliation, and the further strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Can I ask for your evaluation of the Prime Minister’s visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, today a Japan-U.S. summit meeting was held, after which Prime Minister Abe and President Obama visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, where they paid respects to the souls of the deceased. The summit meeting was the last such meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Obama and the two leaders engaged in a frank exchange of opinions, looking back on four years of cooperation relating to Japan-U.S. relations, and regional and international issues. Both leaders confirmed the unchanging value and significance of the “Alliance of Hope” and shared their recognition that the Japan-U.S. Alliance will be further strengthened looking ahead to the future. It was a significant meeting that appropriately summarized the past four years of cooperation. Following the summit meeting, Prime Minister Abe and President Obama visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor to pay their respects to the souls of the deceased, after which both leaders read out statements at the pier facing Pearl Harbor. I believe that through this visit the Prime Minister was able to express anew the resolve toward the future that the devastation of war must never be repeated and also demonstrate to the world the power of reconciliation between Japan and the United States, two former enemies that transformed their relationship into an alliance based on shared values in the postwar period. The Government seeks to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and contribute still more to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the international community.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Trump administration is due to be inaugurated next month. Does the Government believe that it will be able to continue to build stable relations with the United States as it has up till now?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister has already held a meeting with President-elect Trump, which was extremely warm and friendly. Prime Minister Abe and President-elect Trump both confirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and therefore I do not believe there will be any change to the alliance relationship following the inauguration of the Trump administration.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In his statement, the Prime Minister spoke about the spirit of tolerance and the power of reconciliation. Does the Prime Minister intend to extend the policies of tolerance and the power of reconciliation to diplomacy with, for example, other countries that hold historical ill will against Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister spoke about the power of reconciliation, made possible through the spirit of tolerance, which brought together Japan and the United States—two countries that fought a fierce war that will go down in the annals of human history—in a deep and strongly bound alliance, emphasizing how the Japan-U.S. Alliance has grown into an extremely strong alliance in the postwar period. At the current point there are no specific plans for the Prime Minister to make a similar statement together with other national leaders.

REPORTER: In his statement, the Prime Minister noted that Japan has resolutely upheld its vow to never again wage war, but did not express an apology for the war. What was the thinking behind this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The purpose of the visit to Pearl Harbor was to pray for the repose of the deceased and not to apologize. In any event, today, 70 years after the end of the war, I believe what is of the utmost importance is to engage in practical and steady cooperation that seeks to realize a peaceful and safe world. Therefore, through this visit the Prime Minister was able to express clearly Japan’s resolve to never forget the lessons of the devastation of war and never again to wage war, and continue to cooperate with the United States in contributing to global peace and prosperity.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: I have a question concerning the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Okinawa Prefecture. Following the restoration of the validity of the approval for land reclamation work at Henoko, yesterday the Okinawa Defense Bureau resumed work at the site. This is the first time for land reclamation to resume since the settlement between the central and prefectural governments in March. Can I ask for a comment from the Government about this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, the assertions of the central government were fully recognized in all aspects. This means that the order issued by Governor Onaga revoking approval for land reclamation work has been deemed through due judicial process to have been illegal. Given that Japan is a country based on the rule of law, I think that in a sense it is only natural that in accordance with this final decision by the Supreme Court and the stipulations of the settlement, the Government will respond in good faith, engaging in mutual cooperation with the government of Okinawa Prefecture and moving forward with land reclamation work on the coast at Henoko.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The governments of Japan and the United States have agreed that following the relocation to Henoko, Futenma Air Station could be returned to Japan as early as 2022. Given that the relocation-related work has been on hold since the conclusion of the settlement in March, will there be any delay to this schedule for return of the base?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the origin of the plan for the relocation to Henoko dates back 17 years, when it was agreed that Futenma Air Station should be closed to eliminate the danger it poses, given that it is said to be one of the most dangerous in the world, being located in a residential area surrounded by homes and schools. With the approval of the then mayor of Nago City and the then governor of Okinawa Prefecture, the Cabinet approved the plan to relocate the air station to Henoko, and work to this end has since been advanced. Following the final decision handed down by the Supreme Court, the Government now seeks to proceed with land reclamation work. As a result of the relocation 9,000 U.S. military personnel, representing one-third of the 28,000 personnel said to be stationed in Okinawa, will be relocated outside of Japan to Guam and therefore the Government wishes to proceed with relocation work without further delay. The Government seeks to move forward based on relevant laws and ordinances, paying the utmost attention to the local living environment and natural environment and also continuing to provide explanations.

REPORTER: So can we assume that there is no change to the planned schedule, as agreed between the governments of Japan and the United States, to realize the return of the base at 2022 at the earliest?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government seeks to advance construction work as quickly as possible. Until construction at Henoko is completed, the dangers posed by Futenma will remain unchanged as long as it remains in its current location. Three years were spent by persons concerned determining the area for relocation at Henoko and it is also a fact that the decision on the final location was made so that aircraft will take off in a seaward direction and come in to land from offshore,   based on the strong request from local residents regarding safety. The Government therefore wishes to continue to steadily advance construction work.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 52.5 percent of persons aged between 18 and 20 years responded that they voted in the election for the House of Councillors in July following the lowering of the voting age to 18. Of these, 93.7 percent indicated that they would vote again in the future. The survey also showed that high school students who had received lessons on elections and politics were seven percentage points more likely to have voted than those students who had not received such lessons. Can I ask for your evaluation of these survey results against a backdrop in which it is said that young people have no interest in politics?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To be honest, I was also a little surprised to read these survey results. As you have mentioned, high school students who had received lessons on politics and elections were seven percentage points more likely to have voted. Therefore, I believe that the Government’s efforts to date to promote education on popular sovereignty produced results in the election last year, which was the first time that people aged 18 and 19 could vote in elections.

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