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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 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

REPORTER: Mr. Masahide Ota, former Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, has passed away. He spent many years trying to resolve the issue of military bases, including Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma. Can you please share your comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Ota, former Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, survived the Battle of Okinawa and served in posts such as Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and member of the House of Councillors. He was also involved in the compilation of the Final Report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) in 1996. In such turbulent times Mr. Ota dedicated himself to the issue of bases in Okinawa and measures for the development of Okinawa. I offer my deepest condolences on the passing of Mr. Ota.

REPORTER: A related question. The issue of the relocation of MCAS Futenma, an issue that former Governor Ota has long been engaged in, is unresolved to this day. What is your view in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The issue of MCAS Futenma goes back to the fact that it is regarded as the most dangerous base in the world. There are residences and schools close together in the vicinity of the air station. Under such circumstances, it was determined that we must remove the dangers posed by the air station, realize the return of the land occupied by the air station, and never allow the air station to remain at its location indefinitely, as well as maintain Japan-U.S. deterrent capabilities. It has already been 21 years since an agreement was reached between Japan and the United States regarding the full return of MCAS Futenma at the request of then Governor Ota. At the time Prime Minister Hashimoto and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Mondale held talks. Three years later, the Cabinet approved the relocation to Henoko, with the consent of Governor Inamine of Okinawa Prefecture and the Mayor of Nago City. The relocation was slow to make progress thereafter due to various circumstances. Then in December 2013, after the Abe administration came in, former Governor Nakaima’s approval on the relocation was finally received, thanks to the efforts of Government and Okinawa officials to remove the dangers posed by MCAS Futenma. Against this backdrop, the Government will steadily advance the SACO agreement. We are now making earnest efforts with a strong determination to remove the dangers of MCAS Futenma and never allow it to remain at its location indefinitely.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. With regard to Japan-China relations, some media outlets have reported that the Government is making arrangements to invite President Xi Jinping of China to pay a state visit to Japan next year. Can you tell us if this is true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, when State Councilor Yang Jiechi visited Japan at the end of May last month, he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Abe and held talks with Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida. I also exchanged views with the State Councilor. On these occasions, discussion took place on enhancing bilateral dialogue, including at the leader level, looking ahead to the diplomatic schedule for the near term. As these are diplomatic exchanges I would like to refrain from disclosing their details. On that basis I would like to state that, at this point in time, no detailed itinerary and other specifics have been discussed between Japan and China with regard to mutual visits by the leaders.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Does Prime Minister Abe have any wish to visit China one more time? Also, what is your view on the current situation of the Japan-China relationship?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government seeks to improve the Japan-China relationship, looking ahead to the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China this year, and the 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China next year. We will seize opportunities provided by the G20 Hamburg Summit and the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit to realize a Japan-China Summit meeting as early as possible. To this end, based on the concept of a “Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests,” both Japan and China will continue to make a series of efforts from a broad perspective in promoting dialogues and exchanges in a wide range of areas, including politics, economics, culture, and people-to-people exchanges, and build a stable bilateral relationship.

REPORTER: My question is in connection with conspiracy offense, as known as Offence of the Preparation of Acts of Terrorism and Other Organized Crimes. Special Rapporteur Cannataci of the United Nations Human Rights Council made comments to a symposium that was held in Tokyo on Friday, June 9. In his comments, the Special Rapporteur stated that he as Special Rapporteur has occasions where he has talks with other countries on the wording of the bill before it is passed, suggesting he has strong concerns over the manner in which the Government is going ahead with the deliberations to pass the bill. In this regard, I would like to ask two questions. My first question is, what does the Government think of Mr. Cannataci’s concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I am aware of the news reports. However, the Government would like to refrain from commenting on the discussions that take place at meetings with non-governmental organizations. The Government will continue to seek to gain the public’s understanding regarding the necessity and importance of the bill for its earliest possible passage.

REPORTER: From what you just stated in your response, am I to understand that the Government will not send to Mr. Cannataci an English translation of the bill or other reference materials to explain the position of the Government prior to the passage of the bill?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have no such intentions.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. A panda had a baby at Ueno Zoo today. The news alerts that were circulated go to show that a lot of attention is being given to this news in Japan. Japanese people’s love for pandas dates back to pandas that arrived from China to Japan 45 years ago, at the time of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Do you expect the birth of the panda to re-spark a panda boom or give further momentum to the Japan-China friendship? Can you share your opinions on the birth of the panda today?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is fantastic news that lifts the spirits of everyone in Japan. We welcome this news and believe that the safe delivery of the panda was made possible by the attentive care given and efforts made by all the staff at Ueno Zoo. We hope that the panda will continue to grow full of energy and in good health. When thinking about why pandas are so popular, I think it is because of their lovable and endearing faces and gestures. It is important indeed that pandas remain a significant testament to the friendship between Japan and China.

(Abridged)

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