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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Okinawa' new promotion and development plan and issues surrounding Okinawa including the realignment of US Forces in Japan
  • Information release over the internet by livestock farmers in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture

REPORTER: Today Okinawa Prefecture presented the Government with its new promotion and development plan. This is the fourth such promotion plan for Okinawa and to date these plans have been strongly focused on correcting the disparities between Okinawa and mainland Japan. What is the Government's view concerning the positioning and priorities of the new plan? Also, Governor Nakaima (of Okinawa Prefecture)  has stated his strong resolve that this plan should be the final one. What is the Government's view of this statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The new plan was recently handed to Prime Minister Noda by Governor Nakaima and I am still not fully aware of its detailed contents. I recognize that in the 40 years since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan, the tireless efforts of the people of the prefecture and the various measures contained in the promotion and development plans over the years have resulted in certain outcomes we see today. Based on this recognition, I would like to express my respect to all those people who have endeavored towards the promotion and development of Okinawa to date. The major difference with the Okinawa Promotion and Development Plan that has been handed over by the Governor today is that it has been formulated not by the central government, but by the prefectural government, from the perspective of recognizing the initiative of Okinawa Prefecture. Under this plan it is envisaged that it will be possible to develop more detailed measures and policies that are better matched to local realities. The Government expects that as a frontier of Japan and the gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, Okinawa will capitalize fully on its latent potential and engage in development that will be a driving force for the Rebirth of Japan. The Government is also prepared to engage more fully and earnestly in efforts for the promotion and development of Okinawa. Although I am not sure how Governor Nakaima phrased his statement about the new plan being the last one, his resolve is similar to that stated by Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Kawabata, who noted that in addition to the new Basic Policy for the Promotion and Development of Okinawa, which is based on the newly passed laws, it is this Okinawa Promotion and Development Plan, formulated by the prefecture itself, which will herald new efforts towards wrapping-up efforts for Okinawa's promotion. I imagine that what Governor Nakaima was referring to was the sense of truly wrapping-up the aims and objectives set out in the ten-year promotion plan.

REPORTER: Minister Kawabata, who is the minister responsible, has spoken about "wrapping up" efforts. Is this view of "wrapping up" efforts one that is generally shared by the Government as a whole?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As the plan is for a ten-year period I am sure that during that time there will be various efforts and activities implemented, but in my understanding the desire to "wrap things up" is one that Governor Nakaima has also indicated in his own statements. However, this no way means that after ten years everything will be accomplished and all measures will cease. My understanding is that there is a determination to ensure that various measures can be "wrapped up."

REPORTER: In this morning's press conference you noted that under the Noda Administration various processes are being gradually moved forward and have achieved results. Since the inauguration of the Noda Administration, what structures do you think have been created for Okinawa that have resulted in such effects and outcomes? For example, who you played the commanding role, and what structures have proved to be good for the prefecture?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Rather than speaking about structures, I would say that one of the single largest achievements of this Government has been the creation of block grants, which are a particularly bold measure to ensure budgetary allocation that respects the initiative of Okinawa. Another achievement has been the advances that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has made in various consultations with the United States on a number of issues to date, including the issue of court jurisdiction (under the SOFA). A further significant step forward has been the delinking of the base relocation issue, which has been running for more than a decade, from the issue of the transfer of the Marine Corps, which was detailed in the recent document issued by the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee, the so-called "Two-Plus-Two" meeting.

REPORTER: What structures created by the Prime Minister's Office do you consider have been successful in achieving progress in reducing the burden of the military bases on Okinawa and reducing the burden through policies for promotion and development?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The structures at the Prime Minister's Office function under the leadership of the Prime Minister and there have not been any special structures created that were not in place before. The results have been achieved thanks to concerted efforts by the Government.

REPORTER: In his recent address in Okinawa, the Prime Minister stated his resolve that a situation in which the Futenma Air Station becomes fixed in its current location must absolutely be avoided. You have just mentioned the delinking of the Futenma issue from other issues, but there are some people who are concerned that this delinking of the issues could conversely lead to the air station becoming fixed in its current location. Could you tell us what the Government intends to do specifically to make progress on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The recent Joint Statement by the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Two Plus Two) reconfirmed that as a result of various considerations, the relocation of the Futenma Air Station to Henoko is the "only viable solution that has been identified to date." In that sense the Government will continue to follow this line and will work towards the relocation of the air station in the near term. In this process we will naturally make every effort to provide detailed and sincere explanations, as a means of gaining the understanding of the people of Okinawa.

REPORTER: You have just mentioned that the current administration will continue to follow the line that the relocation of the Futenma Air Station to Henoko is the only viable solution. However, under the Hatoyama Administration, consideration was also given to relocation outside the prefecture, until May two years ago, when then Prime Minister Hatoyama visited Okinawa for the first time. On that visit he stated that "the more I learn the more I realize that deterrent capability is a necessity." On that basis the focus for relocation returned to Henoko. Today in a speech in Okinawa Mr. Hatoyama has stated that options should still be considered for relocation outside the prefecture. What is the Government's view of this statement by the former prime minister?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that Mr. Hatoyama was probably apologizing for the confusion caused when he handed the administration to Prime Minister Kan, and the changes in policy at that time. That is all I meant when I referred to this issue this morning and I have not heard the comments made by Mr. Hatoyama today in detail. I am aware of the press reports about his comments.

REPORTER: In the previous question you didn't make any specific references to structures at the Prime Minister's Office that have helped to achieve advances in Okinawa. What areas do you think have proved to be successful since the inauguration of the Noda Administration, in terms of the Government's stance on Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that we will need to wait a little longer for a historical perspective on what has gone well and what hasn't. However, as I stated this morning, under the energetic and forward-looking leadership of the Prime Minister, concerted efforts have been made by the Government, particularly in view of the fact that this has been the period for revising and renewing special measures legislation for Okinawa for the next ten years. I think that this tenacious and enthusiastic spirit has enabled the Government to made advances.

REPORTER: On a different topic there are press reports that the administrative office of Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture, which lies within the Restricted Area has issued letters of consent to livestock farmers, requiring that they obtain prior permission before releasing any information over the internet. The town authorities have explained that this measure has been taken based on instructions from the central government. What are the facts of this case and is it true that there is a ban in place on releasing information over the internet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have read the press reports you mentioned and I will look into the case to see why the town authorities have made livestock farmers to submit letters of consent. In close coordination with the town authorities we will examine if there is a problem and if necessary I believe it would be appropriate for a revision to be implemented.

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