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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Chief Cabinet Secretary's plan to visit Okinawa
  • The Sovereignty Restoration Day on April 28
  • North Korea

REPORTER: At lunchtime today you met with five elected members who represent constituencies in Okinawa. What was the topic of discussion in this meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is always my intention to seek to hear the opinions of the people of Okinawa as much as possible and to date I have met with Diet members from Okinawa on a number of occasions. In that sense, given that from tomorrow I will pay a visit to Okinawa, I thought that prior to my departure it would be a good idea to explain the status of progress of issues relating to Okinawa to Diet members from Okinawa, including the return of land south of Kadena Air Base. These matters have been reported in the press over a number of days and therefore I held the meeting to provide an explanation to the Diet members from Okinawa.


REPORTER: In today's meeting did the matter of the ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Japan's restoration of sovereignty and return into the international community, which is scheduled for April 28, come up in discussions and what was your response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from discussing each and every matter that was raised at the meeting, but it is true that discussions did turn to the ceremony scheduled for April 28. The intention of the Government to hold a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Japan's restoration of sovereignty and return into the international community on April 28 is also detailed in the J-File of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and during the meeting we engaged in an exchange of opinions, including questions and explanations concerning the ceremony, and how the people of Okinawa perceive it.


REPORTER: There is a group of members in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, predominantly from opposition parties, who are opposed to the ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Japan's restoration of sovereignty and have today declared their intention to hold a gathering in opposition to the ceremony on the same day. What is the reaction of the Government to the criticisms of the ceremony from Okinawa, which have been greater than originally envisaged, regardless of whether they represent a sector of Okinawan society or the entire community?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Each year the ceremony to commemorate Okinawa's reversion to Japan is observed on May 15, and LDP Administrations past and present have observed this landmark date. As this year marks the milestone 60th anniversary of Japan's restoration of sovereignty and return into the international community the Government seeks to hold a commemorative ceremony in a sensitive manner, while explaining our stance to the people of Okinawa to gain their understanding.


REPORTER: You have stated that in your meeting with Governor Nakaima tomorrow you will not be raising the subject of the ceremony on April 28. What points, therefore, will you be raising tomorrow that you wish to seek the governor's understanding on?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty the Government seeks to uphold the commitments that have been made between Japan and the United States and move them steadily forward to implementation. Naturally, we wish to proceed in a responsible manner that upholds our commitments to the people of Okinawa too. It is that message that I wish to convey in my meeting with the governor tomorrow.

REPORTER: If that is the case, do you expect that the predominant theme of the meeting will basically be the base issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although time for the meeting will be limited I expect that basically the base issue will be the main one for discussion; firstly the base issue and also development and promotion policy, including the issue of a second runway at Naha Airport.

REPORTER: Although the plan for the return of lands south of Kadena would normally be explained by the minister with jurisdiction over this issue, as you will be travelling to Okinawa tomorrow and meeting the governor, I imagine that it is naturally one of the important themes for discussion on the agenda. At the current point, on behalf of the Government, what explanations will you be making to the governor concerning this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the time when we took office the issue of the return of land south of Kadena was one that had witnessed very little progress. In the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, Prime Minister Abe made a strong request concerning the return of land and President Obama showed his understanding with regard to the issue. It was from then that progress started to be made. What I will be explaining tomorrow is the current status, whereby various committed efforts are being made in negotiations at the working level that seek to respond to the expectations of the people of Okinawa.

REPORTER: North Korea has recently announced that it intends to restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, operation of which was stopped in accordance with the agreement reached in the Six-Party Talks. What is the Government's analysis of this announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: If it is true that North Korea intends to reequip and restart operations at its nuclear facility, this would constitute a provocative act in contravention of the Six-Party Talks agreement and United Nations Security Council resolutions. In such an event the Government would have to respond with the gravest concern and therefore we are cooperating closely with the United States and the Republic of Korea, as well as with China and Russia, which are participants in the Six-Party Talks process to ensure that North Korea definitely upholds its pledge not to restart operations. In this way, through a process of international collaboration, we intend to respond to any moves by North Korea.


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