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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 7, 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: An object believed to have fallen from a U.S. Forces aircraft has been found in a kindergarten in Ginowan City in Okinawa Prefecture. Could you tell us what information the Government currently has and what the response will be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, shortly after 11:00 a.m. this morning, Okinawa Prefectural Police received notification from a kindergarten in Ginowan City that something had fallen on the roof of the facility after a U.S. Force aircraft had flown past. I have received a report that police officers were on the scene very quickly to confirm the facts and that the Ministry of Defense is also inquiring with U.S. forces about the facts pertaining to this situation. This kind of incident is of great concern not just to the persons concerned at the kindergarten, but also to the wider Okinawan community, and is completely unacceptable. We will continue to collect information about this matter and once detailed information has been provided from the United States we will respond appropriately and provide notification to the prefectural government and other local government bodies concerned.

REPORTER: Is the Government planning to issue a protest to U.S. Forces or request the implementation of measures to prevent a reoccurrence?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is a matter of course. The Government considers that ensuring safety is a prerequisite to flights of U.S. military aircraft and we will therefore continue to request the U.S. to pay maximum attention to safety aspects and endeavor to minimize impacts on local residents.

REPORTER: The Government has repeatedly issued requests for measures to be implemented to prevent reoccurrence of incidents. What do you think is necessary in order to ensure the effectiveness of such measures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: What is important is for the Government to emphasize in even stronger terms that ensuring safety is a prerequisite to the implementation of flights and to continue to strongly request that the U.S. pays maximum attention to safety aspects.

REPORTER: I have a question about President Putin of Russia. President Putin has indicated his intention to run in the Russian presidential election that is scheduled for March 2018. What is the Government’s view of this announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as your question pertains to a domestic Russian matter, I would like to refrain from making any comment on behalf of the Government of Japan. However, in any event, both Japan and Russia have confirmed that a peace treaty will be concluded by ultimately resolving the issue of the attribution in a manner that is acceptable to both sides. We will continue to engage with Russia, based on our basic policy of resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands and concluding a peace treaty.

REPORTER: You have just referred to efforts towards the conclusion of a peace treaty. It now looks all but certain that President Putin will win a fourth election and that his long-running administration will continue. Are we to understand that the Government’s hope is that President Putin wins a fourth term in office, in view of the fact that he and Prime Minister Abe have spent long years working towards the conclusion of a peace treaty?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making any comment about elections of another country. However, Prime Minister Abe has held a total of 20 summit meetings with President Putin to date and the two leaders have agreed to seek the conclusion of a peace treaty in a manner that is acceptable to both sides. In that sense, regardless of the outcome of the election Japan will continue to engage with Russia towards that end.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the object that fell in Ginowan City. There is information to suggest that the object is a component from a CH-53 aircraft, one of which caught fire in Takae in Higashi Village a few months ago. Does the Government have any information that confirms to which U.S. Forces battalion it belongs or from which type of U.S. Forces aircraft the object fell?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I ask that you direct any questions about such details to the Ministry of Defense.

REPORTER: The object fell at a time when children were playing in the kindergarten grounds, and Governor Onaga has stated that such an occurrence is “an accident waiting to happen.” Could you tell us the Government’s thoughts once again on efforts to eliminate the dangers presented by Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma and suspend operations there within five years?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the importance of eliminating the dangers of MCAS Futenma is something that has been recognized and agreed between Japan and the United States, and also with local mayors, as well as between the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and the central government. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, to advance measures to realize the relocation to Henoko as quickly as possible. The realization of the termination of operations at Futenma within five years is contingent on receiving the cooperation of the local government.

REPORTER: Until the relocation to Henoko and the realization of the termination of operations at MCAS Futenma within five years, will the Government just continue to request that the United States ensure safety of flight operations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government’s view is that the realization of the suspension of operations at Futenma within five years is contingent on receiving the cooperation of the local government. However, circumstances relating to the relocation of MCAS Futenma have changed, following the change in governorship and the legal proceedings that were instigated between the local and central governments in response to Governor Onaga’s withdrawal of permission for land reclamation work. The Government recognizes that in this situation it will be no easy task to realize the suspension of operations at MCAS Futenma within five years. In any event, the Government will continue to engage in determined efforts to gain the understanding and cooperation of Okinawa Prefecture, while providing detailed explanations about our initiatives to eliminate the dangers posed by Futenma and achieve its relocation to Henoko, and about our efforts to realize a tangible reduction in the burden on Okinawa.

REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea. UN Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman is currently visiting North Korea, where he has met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in Pyongyang. Under-Secretary General Feltman has called on North Korea to comply with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that have been adopted in response to North Korea’s nuclear test and missile launches. There is also a possibility that he could request that the country engage in dialogue with the United States. Could you share any information the Government has about this visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that negotiations are currently underway. The Government will respond by working closely with the United Nations after the meetings in North Korea have concluded.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: A U.S. survey team has announced the discovery of five sunken vessels in the waters off the Philippines, two of which are believed to be the battleships Yamashiro and Fuso of the Japanese Imperial Navy. The same survey team discovered the battleship Musashi in 2015, which attracted a great deal of attention, and the analysis and investigation of these five vessels is also being closely followed. Can I ask for a comment from the Government about this discovery?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the reports about this matter.  As the Government is not aware of the details, I would like to refrain from making any comment. At this point this is a matter that does not directly concern the Government, but we will continue to make every effort to collect information.
 

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