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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 14, 2017 (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: Today marks one year since the Kumamoto Earthquake. Even now there are still 47,000 evacuees who are unavoidably displaced. What will be the focus of the Government's supports going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is exactly one year since the Kumamoto Earthquake. Once again, we would like to offer our condolences to those who passed away, and our sympathies to all those affected by the disaster. The Government, in addition to quickly declaring the earthquake a "Disaster of Extreme Severity" immediately after the disaster occurred, has also established measures including financial support across three successive supplementary budgets for FY2016, as well as in the budget for FY2017. The Government has fully leveraged these measures to support the restoration of roads and facilities, secure housing, and rebuild and revitalize occupations and livelihoods that sustain people's daily lives. By establishing these measures, and the Government working together with the municipalities affected by the disaster, I believe the restoration and reconstruction work has made steady progress. Even so, there are still over 47,000 people unavoidably leading lives of constrained freedom in temporary housing, and it will take a long time to achieve true restoration in matters such as the maintenance and repair of the collapsed Minamiaso Bridge and Kumamoto Castle. We therefore consider that mid to long-term support measures based on the needs of the region will be necessary. Thus, in the spirit of doing all that we can, the Government will continue to make concerted efforts in providing supports for the restoration and reconstruction, while considering the sensitivities of the affected areas, in order to allow those affected by the disaster to return to their former ways of life as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You just mentioned providing supports based on the needs of the region. What exactly will the Government be doing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today the Prime Minister paid a visit to the region, and I believe various requests will have been made in the informal gathering held with people of the region. We would like to provide steady supports while taking into account those sorts of needs.

REPORTER: I have a related question. There have been cases of solitary deaths occurring. In regard to non-material supports, what form of supports will the Government be providing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The solitary deaths, which you have mentioned, that occurred in temporary housing after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake became a major issue. Reflecting on that issue, we have established a regional support center within the regional Council for Social Welfare, and with that serving as a base, we are cooperating with NPOs and volunteer groups to promote monitoring, counseling and support activities to prevent isolation such as counselors paying visits to temporary housing. The relevant ministries and agencies will continue to work together to provide meticulous support to the disaster victims, while placing importance on regional networks in cooperation with local municipalities and relevant parties.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a further related question. The Kumamoto Earthquake marked the first full-fledged use of "push-type" support, and there was also initiatives such as "reconstruction discounts." How does the Government evaluate these initiatives, and how will they be incorporated going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Leveraging the lessons gained from the Great East Japan Earthquake, in the wake of the Kumamoto Earthquake, the Government did not wait for requests from the municipalities affected by the disaster, but rather procured and delivered the resources we considered necessary, in other words we carried out "push-type" support for the first time. In that way, large amounts of food and daily necessities were widely distributed. At that stage we then reviewed the next stage of needs in the affected areas, and delivered the next stage of supports. We were able to accomplish this after the Kumamoto Earthquake one year ago. At the same time, there were many points for reflection. For example, supplies were delivered to the prefecture but not to the evacuation sites, or the roads were completely blocked when delivering supplies by car, or there were severe traffic jams. Based on experiences such as these, we will review our methods for delivering supplies to the evacuation sites as well as our supply bases, and while studying these experiences to obtain lessons learned, we are preparing for future disasters.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask a question related to the situation of North Korea. Tomorrow marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of the late Chairman Kim Il-sung of North Korea. In this connection, it has been suggested that North Korea may engage in further provocative acts. Is the Government aware of any signs of such provocative acts and so on?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly working to gather and analyze information related to nuclear and missile developments in North Korea with serious concern. Due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from making a comment on individual, concrete details and circumstances. Even now, in close cooperation with the United States and the Republic of Korea, we are strongly urging North Korea to refrain from provocative acts and comply with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. In order to protect the lives of the Japanese people and protect their assets, the Government is taking all possible measures to secure the peace and security of Japan with a sense of urgency to be able to respond to any situation by maintaining an advanced monitoring and surveillance structure.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the Osprey. According to some media reports, there are considerations being made to carry out training utilizing the Osprey in the Japan-U.S. joint training which will take place at the Yausubetsu Training Area in Hokkaido this August. Is this true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, a variety of considerations are made between Japan and the United States from peacetime regarding the Japan-U.S. joint training. As it concerns our partner country, at this point in time I would like to refrain from commenting on what is being considered between Japan and the United States, including whether the training will be conducted. Beyond that, with regard to the Osprey, while I am speaking in general terms, at a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee last September, a new framework was established which would transfer the training of the Osprey aircraft deployed to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to outside Okinawa Prefecture, in part to mitigate the impact of the bases on Okinawa. As a result, Osprey aircraft have participated in training conducted in Guam in September of last year, and also in training conducted in Niigata and Gunma Prefectures in March of this year. We consider that through these initiatives, the time the Osprey deployed to MCAS Futenma spent stationed and in training in Okinawa will be reduced, which will contribute to further mitigating the impact of the bases on Okinawa Prefecture. It is essential that the impact of the bases on Okinawa is shared across the country in order to reduce the impact. Based on this view, the Government is requesting municipalities on the mainland to share the impact. We will continue to ask for their cooperation, and at the same time, do our utmost to mitigate the impact of the bases on Okinawa.

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