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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 3, 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: The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito have agreed to initiate deliberations from April 6 on the bill to amend the Law on Punishment of Organized Crimes, which would newly establish the offence of Tero-to-Junbi-Zai (the offence to criminalize an act in furtherance of planning to commit terrorism and other serious crimes). What is the Government's view on seeking the passage of this bill during the current Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Once deliberations begin on the bill for the purpose of concluding the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which includes the new establishment of Tero-to-Junbi-Zai, the Government will make every effort to provide clear and thorough explanations to the Diet, seeking understanding on the bill's necessity and importance and the broad support not only of ruling parties, but also opposition parties. We are seeking to achieve the passage of the bill without delay.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have just stated that the Government is seeking the understanding and support of opposition parties, and yet the Democratic Party and others are aiming for the withdrawal of the bill. What points of the draft bill does the Government intend to highlight to underline its necessity and thus gain the understanding of opposition parties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In view of the recent global situation relating to terrorism and looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in three years' time, it is only natural that the Government should want to develop a comprehensive legislative structure for preventing organized crime and terrorism. Furthermore, so far 187 countries and regions have signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Japan is the only country among the G7 countries that has not signed the convention. The Government therefore considers it to be a matter of urgency to conclude the convention, which would also enable further international cooperation in the fight against organized crime and terrorism. As various points about the draft bill were made in the course of Diet deliberations, the Government considers it necessary to provide thorough explanations about how these points have been reflected in the text of the bill.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma in Okinawa. Permission from Okinawa Prefecture to engage in reef crushing expired at the end of last month, so could you explain to us again why the Government considers it to be no longer necessary to obtain permission from the prefectural government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Ministry of Defense has indicated that the fishing rights in the area for land reclamation work around Henoko are already terminated, following procedures implemented by Nago Fisheries Association to relinquish those rights as stipulated under the Fishery Law. It is therefore considered that the area is no longer within fishing grounds where fishing rights have been established, where, under the Okinawa prefecture fishery adjustment regulation, permission is required from the Governor to engage in reef crushing. Once the Ministry of Defense had confirmed that there was no issue with this interpretation with the Fisheries Agency, which has jurisdiction over the Fisheries Law and approved the Okinawa prefecture fishery adjustment regulation, the Okinawa Defense Bureau informed the prefectural government of its intention to not apply for permission for reef crushing and accordingly has not applied for permission.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Okinawa Prefecture has indicated that it considers that permission is still required and as a countermeasure is looking into launching a lawsuit to halt construction work and rescind approval. If these measures proceed, it looks likely that both sides will file suit and respond in kind against the intent of the previous reconciliation. What are your thoughts on this response by the Okinawa prefectural government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as this is a hypothetical question, I would like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government. I would add, however, that the issue of relocating MCAS Futenma to Henoko has its origins in the necessity of eliminating the dangers posed by Futenma, one of the most dangerous bases in the world, which is located in an urban area, surrounded by a residence area with schools, and realizing the closure of the base and the return of the land. The security environment surrounding Japan is increasingly severe, including two nuclear weapons tests by North Korea in the past year, as well as frequent missile launches. When considering the maintenance of deterrence capabilities under the Japan-U.S. Alliance and also the necessity to eliminate the dangers posed by Futenma, the only solution is the relocation to Henoko. It is a fact that both Nago City, where Henoko is located, and Okinawa Prefecture agreed to the relocation proposal, on the basis of which a Cabinet decision was made by the central government. It is also a fact that former Governor Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture approved land reclamation work. Upon entering office, Governor Onaga had recourse to the courts and the Supreme Court fully accepted the central government's position. A further fact is that in the course of the court case, Governor Onaga stated clearly that as head of a local government administration, he would abide by the ruling of the courts. Furthermore, in the terms of the settlement reached between the central and prefectural governments in March last year, it is stated that when a judicial decision is rendered through a court judgment, the two sides would immediately comply with the judgment and would cooperate with each other in acting in good faith in accordance with the purport of the text and the reasons of the judgment. Japan is a country based on the rule of law and in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court and the stipulations of the settlement, the Government expects that land reclamation work at Henoko will proceed with the central and prefectural governments working together in good faith.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, concerning the Imperial Rescript on Education. The Cabinet has approved a written response by the Government that states that the Government would not deny the use of the Imperial Rescript on Education as a teaching material in a manner that does not contravene legislation such as the Constitution or the Basic Law on Education. Given that in the past the Diet passed a resolution to revoke the rescript, there are some people who are opposed to its use as a teaching material. Could I ask for your views?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Imperial Rescript on Education was revoked by a resolution of the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors in 1948 and the notification was issued to all prefectures that the stipulations of the resolution should be fully implemented. I believe that the handling of the rescript remains the same today, namely that following the enactment of the Constitution and the Basic Law on Education, the rescript lost its legal validity. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate in schools for the rescript to provide the only source of guidance for Japanese education. On the other hand, it is an indisputable fact that the rescript also contains items such as respecting one's parents, friendly relations among siblings, and mutual trust between friends. The Government therefore considers that as long as proper consideration is given to how it is handled in a way that does not conflict with the Constitution or the Basic Law on Education, there is no reason to deny its use.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have just stated that the rescript contains reference to virtues that remain valid today, including respect for one's parents. It can also be pointed out, however, that the entire document is suffused with an emperor-oriented national outlook. Some people have criticized the Cabinet decision as endorsing the use of the rescript in schools. Do you have a comment on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware that in the various reforms in the postwar period, the use of the Imperial Rescript on Education as the only source of guidance for Japanese education was prohibited, and that following the enactment of the Basic Law on Education, it lost all political and legal effect. It is against this backdrop that I see no issue with it being used as a teaching material as long as proper consideration is given to how it is handled and therefore I do not believe that the concerns you noted will arise.

REPORTER: I believe that the reason the Imperial Rescript on Education was revoked after the war was based on a fundamental regret that it was the rescript's call for the people of Japan to lay down their lives for their country that drove the nation to war. People are therefore pointing out that once you start selecting excerpts from the text and saying that they are acceptable, you will fail to see the essential problem with the rescript. Some are concerned that political figures or people in education who view the rescript positively may then try to expand the grey zone about what is acceptable and what is not. There are also concerns that cherry picking certain excerpts and saying that they are acceptable for use results in a failure to understand the fundamental and inherent problem with the rescript. What are your views on these concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, the rescript has already lost all legal effect, and that has not changed. Against that backdrop, the text contains certain items that are still extremely valid today, such as respect for one's parents and friendly relations among siblings, and therefore the Government does not deny the use of the rescript as a teaching material. As I have already noted, following a resolution by the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors in 1948, the notification was issued to all prefectures that the stipulations of the resolution should be fully implemented. Therefore, following the enactment of the Constitution and the Basic Law on Education, the rescript lost its legal validity and this is still the case, is it not?

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. There are press supports that claim that the Government has decided to bear part of the security expenses relating to the event venues and athletes' village for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Could you tell us about the status of arrangements with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, although I am aware of the press reports about this matter, I have absolutely no knowledge about the matters covered in the reports. If I were to add anything further, it would be to note that I would have thought that it is only natural for Government organizations, including the police, to work with the organizer of the Games to enhance surveillance and security at major venues that are to be used, including securing the airspace above such venues. My understanding is that it is standard practice for government organizations to engage in such duties and cover security for the necessary venues. I do not believe that this is the same as the Government bearing a portion of the expenses that should be paid for by the organizer. Whatever the case, the Government will work closely together with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on security-related matters and make every effort to demonstrate through the success of the Tokyo Games that Japan is the safest country in the world.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic. President Trump has signed an executive order to investigate unfair trade practices by countries with which the United States has a trade deficit, which include Japan and China. This order is viewed as the Trump administration taking a hardline stance against China in particular, but what is the Government's view of this executive order?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government will continue to monitor the impact this order has on the economies of Japan and the United States. In terms of the current status of Japan-U.S. economic relations, Japan's proportion of the U.S. trade deficit stands at 9.4 percent of the total. In contrast, in 1991 this figure was 58.4%, so it can be appreciated that the level of trade deficit has decreased over time. Furthermore, in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI), the cumulative total of FDI made by Japanese companies in the United States amounts to 411 billion USD, second only to the United Kingdom. Japanese companies have also created approximately 840,000 American jobs. As these figures amply demonstrate, the situation for Japan-U.S. economic relations has completely changed since the era of what was called trade friction. In addition, it is the Government's recognition that the Japanese market does not engage in any discriminatory practices against foreign-made products and other items, nor are any measures in place that would constitute barriers to trade. We therefore consider the Japanese market to be sufficiently open and do not anticipate that any issues will arise in relation to the President's executive order.

REPORTER: I have a question on a topic that is somewhat related to the previous question. There are press reports that suggest the Government is seemingly looking into ways of putting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement into force without the participation of the United States. The press reports suggest that the proposal will be for the agreement to be applied only to countries that agree to sign up to a protocol, so can I ask the current direction in which the Government is moving on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government has already made its stance clear, namely that we seek to act as the centripetal force for the TPP and take the lead in working closely with the countries concerned to establish the best way forward, without excluding any options. It is not true, however, that specific moves are being made as described in recent press reports.


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