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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 23, 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

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the realignment of the U.S. Forces. The mayor of Iwakuni City announced earlier in the city council that the city will accept the relocation of U.S. carrier-based aircraft to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni. What is the Government’s appraisal of this announcement, from the perspective of maintaining the deterrence capability of the U.S. Forces?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today Mayor Fukuda of Iwakuni City announced in the city council that the city will accept the request from the Government concerning the relocation of U.S. carrier-based aircraft from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to MCAS Iwakuni, and that it would provide a response to the Government following consultations with the towns of Suo-Oshima and Waki in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Government considers that Iwakuni City has understood the necessity of the relocation.

REPORTER: Local residents have voiced various requests concerning the acceptance of the relocation, including measures to vitalize local communities and the thorough implementation of safety measures. How will the Government be responding to these requests from local residents?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government believes that safety assurance is a prerequisite for the operation and flight of U.S. military aircraft. We will be working closely with the United States to take the necessary measures to ensure the understanding of local residents, including noise prevention measures and processes to prevent incidents and accidents caused by U.S. personnel. With regard to the request from Iwakuni City to engage in local revitalization initiatives, we will be steadily advancing measures based on a policy of doing everything that is possible.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Today is the memorial day to commemorate the victims of the Battle of Okinawa. Although 72 years have now passed since the end of the battle, Okinawa still faces a situation in which U.S. bases remain in the prefecture. Could you share with us once again how the Government seeks to proceed with measures towards the removal of these remaining bases?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am filled with great pain when I recall the indescribable hardships experienced in the ground battle for Okinawa, which claimed the precious lives of 200,000 people, and I wish to convey my feelings of sincere mourning for the souls of those who perished. We must never forget that the peace and prosperity we enjoy today is built on the sacrifices made by our predecessors. The Government will continue to make every effort to alleviate the burden of bases on Okinawa and work to ensure the development of the prefecture, based on a policy of doing everything it is possible to do.

REPORTER: I have a further question. With regard to the removal of U.S. bases and specifically the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko, Governor Onaga of Okinawa Prefecture has indicated that he is prepared to enter into another legal battle with the Government, including the submission of a bill to the prefectural assembly calling for legal action to halt construction work relating to the relocation. What is the Government’s view concerning the current situation in which relocation-related construction is being advanced without the understanding of the Governor?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, to date we have realized the relocation of all 15 aerial refueling aircraft from MCAS Futenma to Iwakuni. Furthermore, at the end of March 2015 the return of 51 ha of the West Futenma Housing Area in Camp Zukeran was realized, followed by which 4,000 ha of the Northern Training Area was returned at the end of last year, which was the biggest single return since the reversion of Okinawa. We have been engaging in such efforts over the course of the past 20 years. The Government will make every effort to explain these various measures to the local residents in a tangible manner to attain their understanding. MCAS Futenma is said to be the world’s most dangerous base, surrounded by houses and schools, and therefore relocation is absolutely essential when we think of the need to eliminate these dangers, close the base and also maintain deterrence capability. It was against this backdrop that since the inauguration of the Abe administration we have engaged in dialogue with the local community and both the central and prefectural governments embarked on the relocation process based on the terms of the court-mediated settlement. Through that process, in the Supreme Court ruling, the illegality of Governor Onaga’s revocation of the landfill approval was decided by the judiciary and the Supreme Court fully accepted the central government’s position. Furthermore, Governor Onaga also stated clearly that as head of a local government administration, he would abide by the ruling of the courts. Also, 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. 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)

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