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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Japan-China relations (the Senkaku Islands)
  • The deployment of Osprey aircraft
  • The application of the reconstruction budget

REPORTER: With regard to the Senkaku Islands, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Chikao Kawai, who is currently visiting China, has just concluded a meeting with his counterpart at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. Could you tell us what report the Prime Minister's Office has received about this meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have just received a debriefing note, shortly after the meeting finished. I believe that the Vice-Minister has now boarded an airplane to return to Japan. He will be arriving late this evening and therefore it will probably be the case that we hear directly from him tomorrow.


REPORTER: The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that during the meeting a demand was made to Japan to drop all illusions, reflect deeply and correct mistaken actions. What are the facts behind this demand and is it actually the case that it was stated in this manner?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As each side will have its own versions of the content of the Vice-Minister-level meeting, it is not for Japan to make a comment on what has been stated by the Chinese side.

REPORTER: This meeting has taken place in an atmosphere of growing confrontation in Japan-China relations. Could you tell us of moves to improve relations and the outlook for the future and also specifically how the Government intends to respond moving forward, including continued consultations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I have stated previously, efforts are being made not only at the vice-ministerial level, but at various levels and through various channels to approach this issue from an overall perspective and bring it to a conclusion. Steady efforts will continue to be made as we move forward.

REPORTER: For example, following the vice-ministerial-level meeting today, is there a possibility that the Government will seek an opportunity to hold a foreign ministers' meeting in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: At the end of the meeting Vice-Minister Kawai stated the basic stance that it would be a good idea to maintain contact between Japan and China at the ministerial level and I believe that this stance is not a mistaken one.

REPORTER: Vice-Minister Kawai has indicated that he was unable to reach an agreement on a Japan-China Foreign Ministers' meeting in New York. I would like to confirm whether this is the case and also ask for your views concerning the likelihood that a Foreign Ministers' meeting in New York will be postponed.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This matter is also as Vice-Minister Kawai described it at the end of the meeting, namely that a meeting has to have two sides participating and it remains to be seen what the thoughts of the Chinese Government are on this matter. He noted that in the meeting a conclusion had not been reached on holding a Foreign Ministers' meeting.

REPORTER: Also with regard to the Senkaku Islands, large numbers of fishing vessels from Taiwan have approached the islands. With regard to fishing rights in the vicinity of the islands, negotiations on a fishing agreement have been ongoing for some time at the private sector level between Japan and Taiwan, but they have now been suspended. It appears that Taiwan is strongly calling for the negotiations to be restarted. What is the Government's view concerning the necessity for concluding such an agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As this matter concerns Japan-Taiwan relations, any agreement would not be concluded by the Government, but through the Interchange Association, Japan, or the East Asia Relations Commission. With regard to the progress in consultations over a Japan-Taiwan fishing agreement, I am aware that coordination efforts are being made towards the resumption of talks in the near term. The position of the Government is that it hopes that the consultations will resume and that constructive exchanges of opinions will take place, for which the Government will provide the assistance that it is possible to provide.

REPORTER: I believe that this morning, Governor Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture visited you to request that the deployment of the Osprey be halted. How did you respond to this request?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware that this has already been reported in this afternoon's newspaper. Today, I received a visitation from the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and the Mayor of Ginowan City at the Prime Minister's Office and I have been informed that they also visited the Minister of Defense yesterday. I received requests to halt the deployment of Osprey aircraft in Okinawa. The Government is fully aware that the locals are very concerned and anxious about the deployment and we are listening to these concerns with all due seriousness. I also promised the Governor that as the Prime Minister is currently in the United States he would be informed upon his return to Japan. We will also continue to make sincere efforts in presenting the matter in such a way as to gain the understanding of Okinawan citizens.


REPORTER: I apologize for returning to the topic of Japan-China relations, however it appears that today, at a hotel in Tokyo, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Japan will host a function to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and China. I would like to ask for your thoughts on the fact that the Chinese Embassy is hosting this event.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have been made aware of this event. I do not know who will be attending the function but I believe someone is looking after arrangements. However, I will not be attending the event.

REPORTER: I believe this function was to be held in China but has been canceled. However, now the event will be held in Japan and hosted by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Japan. What does the Government believe are the Chinese Government's intentions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, it appears that today's event will be attended by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito. As for the event that was to be held next week - sorry, not next week, it was to be held on the 27th - we are very sorry that it was canceled, or postponed. I have been informed that some business leaders and representatives from Japan-China related organizations have been invited and will travel to China but we are very sorry that the event itself has been postponed.

REPORTER: While the entire event was canceled in China, in Japan the event will now be held by the Chinese Embassy at a local level. How do you view this difference?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: These events are hosted by two different parties. Therefore I do not believe a comparison can be made.

REPORTER: I am afraid that my question returns to the Osprey. I believe that Governor Nakaima said to you today that he was not able to understand nor accept the deployment of Osprey aircraft even after the Government has assured the safety of the aircraft and revealed plans to ensure ongoing safety. I would like to ask if the Government is still intending to allow the deployment of Osprey in Okinawa while still not having the understanding of Governor Nakaima or the Mayor of Ginowan City.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government believes that the assessment of the aircraft's safety based the Government's own investigation of the accidents in Morocco and Florida, the accident prevention and safety assurance measures, and the various agreements of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee all contribute to our conclusion that the operation of MV-22 in Japan will be safe. Leading up to now, the Government has attempted to communicate this to local residents via various forms. I have been informed that the Defense Minister also spent a considerable amount of time communicating this yesterday. I viewed this morning's visit, including the visit from the Mayor as I described earlier, as a meeting to convey the concerns of the locals and neighboring residents, and as a request that the Government gives earnest consideration to these citizen's concerns. I assured them that the Prime Minister would be informed of this request.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the application of the reconstruction budget. I believe that yesterday the Senior Vice Minister of Finance visited you to report on the progress of the detailed audit of the budget. I would like to ask when the Government is planning to announce the results of this audit and whether the Ministry of Finance or the Reconstruction Agency will be responsible for the compilation of this report.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware that there were reports in the media on the reconstruction budget. There were a number of reports, and I have been informed that some of the reports were erroneous and lacked a sufficient understanding of the Basic Act on Reconstruction and the Basic Guidelines for Reconstruction. Yesterday Senior Vice Minister of Finance Fujita addressed these reports. Concerning these issues, the Government would like to give sincere explanations to the relevant parties and I would like to request that these matters are reported accurately. In order to ensure efficient and effective use of financial resources for reconstruction, the Government will identify how the reconstruction budget is being applied. Based on these results, the 2013 budget will only allocate funds to projects that truly require financial resources. This process will be led by the Ministry of Finance and the Reconstruction Agency.


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