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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, March 17, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

・The issues related to alleviating the burden placed on Okinawa by Futenma Air Station
・The issues related to the Kono Statement

REPORTER: I understand that the Government is currently holding a -director general level working group meeting at the Prime Minister's Office to discuss alleviating the burden placed on Okinawa by Futenma Air Station. I believe the Deputy Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and other officials are also attending the meeting. You are not attending, but could you tell us who is participating in the meeting and what is being discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I was informed that the meeting just finished. We decided to form this working group alongside the establishment of the Council for Promoting the Alleviation of the Burden of Futenma Air Station. This first  meeting was held from 3 pm today for one hour. Deputy Governor of Okinawa Takara and Deputy Mayor of Ginowan City Matsukawa attended the meeting to represent Okinawa Prefecture and Ginowan City respectively. Specifically, the ministries and agencies concerned will be working together to reduce the burden placed on Okinawa by Futenma Air Station, and based on this understanding, a frank exchange of views concerning current initiatives and future processes took place. It is our hope that these meetings will play a central role in alleviating the burden placed on Okinawa in a tangible way.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about your response to a question from Director Shiba during this afternoon's Cabinet Committee meeting. President Park Geun-hye reacted positively to Prime Minister Abe's comments concerning the Kono Statement and said that it was a relief. I understand that in response you said that the Japanese Government welcomes her comments. I think this was the first time that we heard President Park Geun-hye publicly express a positive reaction on this issue. Could you tell us whether there is cause to believe that these comments may lead to the holding of a Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) summit meeting or a Japan-U.S.-ROK summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as stated in the written response, I have said on numerous occasions that a Cabinet decision was made to succeed the Kono Statement during the first Abe Cabinet. In response to Prime Minister Abe's comments made during the recent House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting, the President of the ROK said that it is a relief that the Prime Minister made his views on the matter clear. Japan and the ROK are important neighbors with whom we share the same fundamental values, and Japan's door is always open for dialogue. Japan has always pursued multi-layered and future-oriented relations with the ROK. As such, we will thoroughly explain our views and seek their understanding. As I said during the meeting, the Prime Minister has yet to receive Diet approval for attending the Nuclear Security Summit. Mr. Shiba of the Democratic Party of Japan encouraged the Prime Minister to attend the summit. Therefore, if we receive Diet approval, the Prime Minister will definitely attend the summit to strongly call for a world free of nuclear weapons. Since nothing has been decided at this stage regarding the meetings you mentioned and we still do not know if the Prime Minister will be able to attend the summit, I believe we will first make arrangements for that.

REPORTER: Am I then right to understand that the recent comments by both countries are, in a sense, part of preparing the right environment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not so sure about that. Rather than trying to prepare an environment, we repeated what we always state.




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