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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, September 6, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Japan-China relations (including the Senkaku Islands)
  • The Osprey aircraft

REPORTER: It will soon be one year since the day in September of last year, when the Noda administration at the time nationalized the Senkaku Islands. With the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, the Japan-China relationship immediately turned sour. Furthermore, I believe the situation has remained the same since the time when the Abe administration took over. How do you evaluate the decision made by the Noda administration at the time with regard to the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Immediately following the launch of the Abe administration, we have been dealing with the situation in a level-headed and resolute manner based on a firm determination to resolutely protect Japan's territories, waters, and airspace. In this sense, the Abe administration has been conducting careful monitoring and surveillance. Furthermore, through diplomatic channels, we have strongly called on China to exercise restraint so that the situation will not escalate. At the same time, Japan and China are countries that share responsibility for peace and prosperity in the region and in the international community. As such, the Abe administration has continued to state that together with the new leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping, Japan is ready to build mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests from a broad perspective, and that Japan always keeps the door for dialogue open.

REPORTER: During Prime Minister Abe's meeting with Mr. Xi Jinping of China, which I also asked about briefly during this morning's press conference, I understand that the Prime Minister stated something to the effect that he hopes to build a future-oriented relationship with China while facing the facts of history in a spirit of humility. In your view, what significance does this message hold for future dialogues or future meetings between the two leaders?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: These were diplomatic exchanges, and I am not aware of the details. The Prime Minister extended his greetings and explained his view that the Japan-China relationship should be promoted by going back to the origin of the mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests. In any case, the two leaders met for the first time there. In this sense, I believe for the Japan-China relationship, the multiplication of these meetings and the variety of negotiations of the officials in charge will no doubt have a positive impact on each other's diplomacy going forward.

REPORTER: In this connection, I have a question regarding the Japan-China relationship. According to the reports of the Xinhua News Agency and other news agencies, President Xi stated that Japan should correctly deal with such sensitive issues as history in line with the spirit of facing history squarely and looking forward to the future. What is your view, Chief Cabinet Secretary, regarding these comments, which almost seem as though China is telling Japan to get its act together?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have not yet taken a look at the exchanges. Furthermore, I would like to refrain from giving out the details of diplomatic exchanges. I believe, as I stated a short while ago, that the Prime Minister explained his view that the Japan-China relationship should be promoted by going back to the origin of the mutually beneficial relations based on common strategic interests, and expressed his usual view that Japan always keeps the door for dialogue open.

REPORTER: Returning to the earlier question concerning the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, I believe this all started with then-Governor of Tokyo Mr. Ishihara's attempt to have the Tokyo Metropolitan Government nationalize the Senkaku Islands, and this has had a variety of impacts on the Japan-China relationship. Once again can you please explain if my understanding is correct that the Abe administration assesses that the Noda administration's decision to nationalize was a correct one?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the decision was made under the responsibility of the Noda administration.

REPORTER: How does the Abe administration evaluate this decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We, the Abe administration, have stood firm on the position that we will resolutely protect Japan's territories and waters.

REPORTER: I believe an announcement has been made that a Japan-U.S. joint exercise using Ospreys will be carried out in October in Shiga and Kochi Prefectures. On the one hand this will help to reduce the burden on Okinawa. On the other hand I believe naturally the Government will once again be providing explanations to the people in both prefectures and seeking the understanding of the local residents. How does the Government intend to go about doing this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you just stated, it has been announced that a Japan-U.S. joint exercise will be carried out at the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) Aibano Training Area in Shiga Prefecture. Also, in late October, a Japan-U.S. joint exercise on disaster prevention will be carried out off the coast of Kochi Prefecture and in SDF facilities in Kochi Prefecture. Ospreys which have been deployed to Okinawa will take part in both exercises. I believe conducting these exercises not only in the vicinity of Okinawa where the Ospreys are deployed but also in the mainland will steadily contribute to decreasing the burden on Okinawa. I understand that this matter has already been explained to the relevant municipalities.

REPORTER: Related to the previous question, I believe today the Government provided an explanation regarding the Ospreys to the Mayor of Takashima City in Shiga Prefecture. However, I believe that because the details of what was explained to the Mayor, including the issue of the flight route, were not disclosed, local municipalities, in particular, neighboring Kyoto, are concerned about the flight route and so on. Can you please explain what the Government's policy is regarding how explanations will be provided in response to these concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: My understanding is that the Government has explained to relevant municipalities that these exercises will be carried out.

REPORTER: Does the Government plan to provide additional explanations to neighboring municipalities, such as Kyoto Prefecture?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the details, I ask that you please direct your questions to the Ministry of Defense. However, I have been informed that explanations have been provided to the local municipalities.


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