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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 12, 2017 (PM)

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

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Governor Onaga of Okinawa Prefecture has again requested that operations at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma should be terminated within five years, regardless of whether or not the relocation to Henoko is achieved. What is the Government's recognition about the status and likelihood of operations at Futenma being terminated within five years?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The request to terminate operations at MCAS Futenma was first made on December 17, 2013 by then-Governor Nakaima, at the time when the Government was applying for permission to conduct the necessary land reclamation work for relocation to Henoko. We subsequently received permission for land reclamation work from the Governor. The Government duly recognized that in the course of advancing construction work, the alleviation of the burden on Okinawa, and in particular the elimination of the dangers posed by Futenma, were issues of the utmost importance, and based on a request from Governor Nakaima and Mayor Sakima of Ginowan City, the Government established the Council for Promoting the Alleviation of the Burden of Futenma Air Station in February 2014. It was under the auspices of this Council that the Government engaged in consultations with our counterparts in Okinawa Prefecture, based on the stance that the Government will do everything we can towards the requests made by Okinawa Prefecture. It was against this backdrop that the realization of the termination of operations at Futenma within five years was contingent on receiving the cooperation of the local government for the relocation to Henoko. That is the Government's understanding of the situation. However, it is regrettably the case that after the change of governor in Okinawa Prefecture circumstances changed, with present Governor Onaga withdrawing permission for land reclamation work and legal proceedings being instigated between the local and central governments. As Prime Minister Abe himself stated in the recent meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, without the cooperation of Governor Onaga and in a situation in which the central and prefectural governments are unable to engage in consultations together, it now looks increasingly unlikely that the operations at Futenma can be terminated within five years. In any event, under the Government's policy of absolutely avoiding the indefinite use of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, we will continue to make every endeavor to achieve the return of the air station, which has been a source of concern for over 21 years.

REPORTER: I have a related question. A group that supports Governor Onaga in Okinawa is seeking ways to implement a referendum in the prefecture as a means of expressing public opposition to the relocation to Henoko. What are your views about these moves?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I am aware of the press reports on this matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on a matter that concerns local government operations. In any event, as I have frequently noted, during the course of legal proceedings, Governor Onaga clearly stated in his position as the head of local government that he would comply with the final decision of the Supreme Court. In a situation in which the security environment surrounding Japan is of increasing severity, relocation to Henoko is the only option in order to realize both the maintenance of deterrence through the Japan-U.S. Alliance and eliminate the dangers posed by Futenma. The Government will continue to advance work related to relocation to Henoko, giving due consideration to safety at the work site and paying the utmost attention to the local living environment and natural environment.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. You recently met with members of a parliamentary group that is seeking to promote measures to prevent passive smoking. What explanation did you provide to this group about the amendment to the Health Promotion Law with a view to promoting measures to prevent passive smoking?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I received a resolution calling for the creation of measures to prevent passive smoking that would be commensurate with Japan's position as host of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. I responded that the Government would duly consider the opinions raised in the resolution.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Some members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are opposed to measures to prevent passive smoking, so can I ask how the Government intends to advance this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the Government, with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare playing the leading role, is working with the LDP with a view to submitting a draft bill to amend the Health Promotion Law during the current session of the Diet.

REPORTER: Are you simply considering submitting a draft bill during the current Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are engaged in coordination with a view to submitting a draft bill.

REPORTER: I have a question about the abdication of His Majesty the Emperor. According to some press reports, the Government started considering a process whereby His Majesty would abdicate during December 2018 and the name of the era would be scheduled to be changed to the next after a given period of time, on January 1, 2019. Could you tell us the current status of considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am completely unaware of any of the matters raised in the press reports and I would remind you that there has been a great deal of misreporting with regard to this matter. In any event, the Government will seriously study the synthesis of discussions that have taken place in the legislature with regard to this issue, which was received from the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors. We will make every effort to ensure that a draft bill can be submitted during the current session of the Diet.

(Abridged)

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