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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, April 1, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • North Korea
  • Realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan
  • The Bank of Japan's "Tankan" Short-term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan

REPORTER: Today the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea has been convened. Yesterday, prior to the opening of the Supreme People's Assembly, the Central Committee of the Workers' Party referred to nuclear development as "the nation's life" and confirmed that North Korea would continue to engage in such development. What is the Government's view of these events in North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you have just noted, North Korea continues to repeat provocative statements. This is highly regrettable. The Government of Japan strongly calls on North Korea to refrain from any and all actions of a provocative nature. In addition, the Government is continuing to make every effort to collect intelligence about developments in North Korea and the monitoring and surveillance structure remains in place.


REPORTER: I have one question concerning the basic stance of the Government with regard to the return of U.S. Forces' facilities south of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. At the time of the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan in 2006 it was confirmed that the relocation of Futenma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture and the return of land and facilities south of Kadena would be implemented together as a package. However, in the Japan-U.S. agreement that was reached in April 2012, it was agreed that the return of five facilities of U.S. Forces would be separated from the issue of the relocation of Futenma. My understanding of that agreement was that even if there was no progress on the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko, efforts towards the return of the five facilities south of Kadena would still proceed. Currently, in the comprehensive plan relating to the return of land and facilities south of Kadena that both governments are in the process of formulating, is it still the case that the return of the five facilities south of Kadena and their relocation to Guam is being treated as separate from the Futenma issue, or does the Government intend to change the content of the agreement reached in April last year? Or is it the case that the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko is being considered as a package to be implemented concurrently with the return of the facilities south of Kadena? Could you explain the Government's policy with regard to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have seen newspaper reports concerning this issue. Consultations between Japan and the United States are still ongoing and at the current point nothing has been decided with regard to content. Furthermore, in response to your question, the Joint Statement of the Security Consultative Committee (Two-plus-Two Meeting) of last year notes that regardless of whether progress is made with regard to a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station, efforts will be made to the extent that it is possible to press forward with the return of lands south of Kadena Air Base. However, this does not mean that the land on which Futenma Air Station is located has been delinked from the agreement to return lands south of Kadena. (Abridged) The Government continues to engage diligently in negotiations, based on the Joint Statement issued last year.

REPORTER: Today the Bank of Japan has issued its "Tankan" Short-term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan, the results of which indicate that business sentiment among large companies has improved for the first time in three quarters. What is the Government's reaction to the survey results?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Tankan survey indicates that the industry outlook for the future is improving. In a sense this shows that the improvements in the export environment, together with the effect of economic and monetary policies have supported business sentiment, and there are now expectations that the economy will move gradually towards recovery.

REPORTER: Even so, with regard to large manufactures there are still some elements which are unclear relating to the diffusion index, with plans for plant and equipment investment remaining at a level of minus 2.0 percent. This would suggest that there is still considerable caution concerning the business outlook. Do you think this could be evidence of an emerging sense of mistrust about "Abenomics"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think that is the case. The survey today shows that although there are certainly still some weak areas, there is a clear momentum towards recovery. Accordingly, the Government will continue to implement the policies we have announced to date with a sense of speed.


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