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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved two general measures, the promulgation of a treaty, a cabinet order, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Mori made a statement concerning the outcomes of the meetings of the Council for Promoting Measures to Prevent Drug Abuse. Minister Furuya and the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made statements concerning emergency measures for the eradication of the abuse of so-called “quasi-legal drugs.”

Today, Senior Vice-Minister of Defense Takeda visited Saga Prefecture and paid a courtesy call on Governor Furukawa of Saga Prefecture from 9 am. The Senior Vice-Minister of Defense conveyed to the Governor that the Government would like to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force units for the tilt-rotor aircraft, the so-called Osprey, to Saga Airport, as well as to deploy to Saga Airport the helicopters currently deployed at Camp Metabaru, which is becoming an increasingly urbanized area. Furthermore, the Senior Vice-Minister of Defense explained that the Government is considering allowing use of Saga Airport by the U.S. Marine Corps in order to alleviate the burden on Okinawa, and asked for the understanding and cooperation of Saga Prefecture. In particular, with regard to alleviating the burden on Okinawa, Governor Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture seeks the suspension of the operations of Futenma Air Station within five years. As this matter concerns the operations of the U.S. forces, I am unable to make any definitive statements. However, if we are able to obtain the understanding of the United States, the Japanese Government would like to consider the tentative utilization of Saga Airport until Henoko is completed, in order to meet the request of Okinawa Prefecture. The Government will make wholeheartedly efforts to obtain the understanding of the people in Saga Prefecture. In addition, the Government will take all possible measures to dissuade the concerns of the local people over noise and safety measures associated with the use of Saga Airport.     


  • The utilization of Saga Airport for the Osprey aircraft
  • The issue of Malaysian airliner crash
  • The issue concerning the UN reform
  • The situation in Palestine

REPORTER: I have a question with regard to this topic of the Osprey aircraft. Could you please elaborate a little further on the background leading up to this decision to utilize Saga Airport?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Self-Defense Forces will introduce the so-called Osprey and we expect that these aircraft will form the core of the aerial maneuvers of the amphibious rapid deployment brigade that will be newly formed. We deem it appropriate to deploy the Osprey to a location that would allow for close coordination with the amphibious rapid deployment regiment, which is the main force of the amphibious rapid deployment brigade. Taking such factors into consideration, we found Saga Airport to be advantageous for alleviating the burden on Camp Metabaru where urbanization is advancing, as the airport is in the same prefecture and faces the sea, therefore facilitating environmental measures in terms of aircraft operations.       


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Malaysian airliner that was shot down in Ukraine. In the face of the recent international backlash, pro-Russian forces have shown a flexible attitude, which has included the handover of the bodies of the deceased. My first question is, what are Japan’s thoughts concerning this?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, this was a tragic incident in which many lives were lost as a result of the crash. The Government of Japan would like to express its deepest condolences to the people of all of the countries that suffered tragic loss of life. First, with regard to the causes of the crash, we are continuing to collect and analyze information. While this work is still ongoing, Japan views that it is highly likely that the aircraft was shot down. Such an act deserves the strong condemnation of the international community, and those who were involved must take serious responsibility. In this sense, the world needs to cooperate in first identifying the causes of the incident and recovering the bodies of the deceased. In a sense I believe this is with reason.   

REPORTER: President Obama of the United States indicated that Russia supplied the missiles. A number of sources have pointed to Russia’s involvement in this incident. What is the opinion of the Japanese Government in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, we are currently collecting and analyzing information regarding the causes of the crash. Japan urges Russia to exercise its influence to ensure that the armed groups engage in dialogue towards peace and cooperate with the international investigation of the crash of the Malaysian airliner. 

REPORTER: The United Nations adopted a resolution condemning the incident. Could you please share your reaction if any?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In my press conferences and elsewhere, Japan has expressed that the armed groups have a responsibility to quickly provide the investigators full and unrestricted access to the site of the crash. Japan welcomes that such matters were unanimously adopted by a UN Security Council resolution on the 21st. Japan will strongly urge all relevant parties to comply with the content of this resolution.

REPORTER: Chief Cabinet Secretary, a short while ago you stated that Japan urges Russia to exercise its influence on pro-Russian forces. Is the Japanese Government making any requests to Russia directly?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Of course, the Government of Japan is strongly requesting this through international organizations and through diplomatic channels.


REPORTER: If possible, could you please elaborate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I said, the Japanese Government is strongly requesting this through diplomatic channels. As I stated a number of times in my previous press conferences, Japan was one of the first countries to urge for the unrestricted secure access to the site of the crash. Japan strongly urges all relevant parties to take such actions.


REPORTER: My question concerns UN reform. On the occasion of the visit to Japan by President-elect Kutesa of the UN General Assembly on July 10, I believe the two of you agreed on the need for the reform of the UN Security Council. What is your view regarding the need for Security Council reform? Also, next year will be the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN. In marking this milestone, does the Japanese Government have any intention to once again propose Security Council reform to expand the permanent membership?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the lead up to 2015, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN, Japan is working with the so-called G4 to strengthen the efforts to make tangible progress on Security Council reform. Japan’s intention to appeal to many countries for their cooperation in this matter remains unchanged. In terms of appealing to various countries to make steady progress on these matters, our approach remains exactly the same as before.

REPORTER: Is it possible that Japan will propose Security Council reform to the UN next year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not in fact come to any firm conclusion either way to make or not to make a concrete proposal to the UN General Assembly next year. 

REPORTER: An ROK Government official has revealed that Counsellor Funakoshi of the National Security Council is making an informal visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) to explain and seek the ROK’s understanding regarding Japan’s recent defense policies, including the Cabinet decision on the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. Is this true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, it is true that the National Security Secretariat generally maintains close communications with its counterparts in other countries. However, I am not aware as to whether or not this director visited the ROK. In any case, Japan is explaining our security policies, including the recent Cabinet decision, to neighboring countries such as the ROK.

REPORTER: This may be repetitive, but is my understanding of your explanation correct that Japan will be providing formal explanations to the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is vital that Japan maintains close coordination and communications with our counterparts in other countries as usual. It is a given that Japan will provide appropriate explanations of our security policies, including the recent Cabinet decision, to neighboring countries, including the ROK.

REPORTER: Approximately 600 Palestinians have been killed by the clashes with the Israeli military in Palestine. What is the opinion of the Japanese Government regarding the intensification of hostilities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Japan deeply regrets and is deeply concerned that the casualties on both sides, including the civilian death toll, are rising rapidly following the launch of the Israeli ground operation into the Gaza Strip. Japan strongly urges all the parties concerned to refrain from the use of excessive force to prevent any further harrowing casualties of civilians and to quickly achieve a ceasefire. Japan supports the mediation efforts to achieve a ceasefire by the international community, including Egypt, the UN, and the United States. Japan will further strengthen its appeal to Israel and Palestine and make efforts to calm the situation and achieve a lasting ceasefire in coordination with the international community.


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