Skip to main content

Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  January 2015 >  January 15, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 15, 2015 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issue regarding to the relocation of Futenma Air Station
  • The declassification of the diplomatic records
  • The Japan-China relations
  • A plan to develop hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles
  • The economic statistics

REPORTER: Governor Yamaguchi of Saga Prefecture stated during his press conference yesterday that the plan to deploy the Osprey aircraft to Saga Airport is still “up in the air,” indicating that he would once again review whether the prefecture should support the deployment. Previous Governor Furukawa had expressed understanding for the plan. What impact do you think this will have on the Government’s policy of alleviating the burden of the U.S. bases in Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government considers this matter as being of critical importance to our security. As such, we will provide careful explanations in order to gain the understanding and cooperation of new Governor Yamaguchi on the swift deployment of the Osprey aircraft.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding Okinawa. In Henoko, since last night, there have been clashes between local residents and riot police. This morning, there are reports that some people were injured. It is said that the Government will resume work in the waters in the near future. What impact do you expect from the flare-up on the base construction work?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the relocation of Futenma Air Station to off the coast of Henoko, two years ago, previous Governor Nakaima approved the landfill, and based on this approval, the construction of the replacement facility was decided in accordance with the relevant laws and ordinances. Against this backdrop, we are now proceeding with various activities, including an offshore boring survey. We will continue to make every effort to realize the return of Futenma Air Station to Japan at the earliest possible date. We will steadily move ahead with Futenma’s relocation to Henoko, while bearing in mind its safety aspects. 

REPORTER: The diplomatic records which were declassified today included a record of a meeting which took place in 1970 between Mr. Nakasone, then-Director-General of the Defense Agency, and the then-U.S. Secretary of Defense. According to the record, Mr. Nakasone stated that Japan’s new defense program guidelines should state that Japan would not possess nuclear weapons, and that the guidelines should hold off on mentioning the introduction of U.S. nuclear weapons into Japan. The record contains statements suggesting that Mr. Nakasone permitted the United States to bring in so-called nuclear weapons into Japan. What is your view regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Diplomatic records that are 30 years old or older are made public as much as possible after proper screening has been conducted. People should take a look at these documents and give their comments. The Government, for its part, deems that it should not comment on individual documents. 

REPORTER: I imagine that various circumstances were involved in making this decision at the time. It seems that upon considering a range of factors, Mr. Nakasone decided to give tacit approval to the United States bringing in nuclear weapons. What is your opinion regarding this decision made at the time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In my capacity as Government spokesperson, I would like to refrain from commenting on a document from over 30 years ago.   

REPORTER: I have a question regarding our former Seoul bureau chief’s indictment without arrest on charges of defaming the President of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The ROK has decided to extend the travel ban imposed on the former bureau chief by another three months effective from the 16th. You have previously criticized the ROK’s measures. Can you please share with us what the Japanese Government currently thinks about the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated to date, the indictment without arrest of the former Seoul bureau chief of Sankei Shimbun is far removed from the common conduct of the international community in terms of the freedom of the press, to which maximum respect should be given. It is, in a sense, unbecoming of a democratic nation to act in this manner. The former bureau chief has been subject to the travel ban since early August of last year, and his movements have been restricted. We consider the three-month extension of the ban as a grave humanitarian issue. The Government of Japan will continue to express our concerns to the ROK and steadily urge the ROK to take appropriate responses.  

REPORTER: According to some media reports, the Japanese Government made a demarche to China last December over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remark that the number of victims of the so-called Nanjing Massacre was 300,000, stating that the President’s remark was “inappropriate.” Is this true? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan maintains communication with China at a variety of levels. Japan communicated its views over this matter to China beforehand. After the President made his remark, Japan made a proper demarche.

REPORTER: So you made the demarche in December?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At any rate, as these are exchanges conducted through diplomatic channels, the Government would like to refrain from disclosing further details. Japan communicated its views beforehand and made a proper demarche afterwards.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the first question concerning the Osprey aircraft. If I may confirm with you then, does the Government currently have in mind the tentative relocation of the Osprey aircraft to Saga Airport? Is the Government considering Saga Airport as a candidate site for conducting training temporarily? What are the Government’s current intentions in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, given the importance of this matter to our national security, we will first provide careful explanations in order to get the understanding of the new Governor on the swift deployment of the Osprey aircraft. What will take place exactly is yet to be determined.

REPORTER: The Government has said before that it will terminate operations of Futenma Air Station within five years. On the other hand, the replacement facility in Henoko will not start operations until around year 2022 or 2023 at the earliest. Then the issue that the Government will inevitably face is how to fill in the blank period in between. What are your plans in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are presently asking various places in Japan to host the Osprey aircraft and other equipment which remain in Futenma. But with respect to Saga Airport, we are not asking the airport to host the Osprey aircraft in connection with the U.S. Forces. Rather, we are doing so in line with Japan’s policy plans to have Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) deploy the Osprey aircraft at Saga Airport once the SDF begins to introduce the aircraft.      

REPORTER: Did you just say the SDF’s deployment of the Osprey aircraft?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes. That is the current plan.

REPORTER: Are you saying that the Government has not come up with specific plans for the Osprey aircraft of the U.S. Forces?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The goal is, as much as possible, to have mainland Japan host the Osprey aircraft that are currently in Henoko. Therefore, we are now asking places all over Japan to host the aircraft.

REPORTER: Some parts of the media have reported that the Government plans to adopt a system of making Cabinet decisions by telephone, in order to allow for the swift mobilization of the SDF in the case of “gray-zone” situations. Is this true? Could you please tell us the status of the considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I too found out about these reports today. We currently have a system of round-robin Cabinet meetings, and my understanding is that part of the considerations are whether we could deal with such situations with the existing system. I have no knowledge at all about the facts being reported.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm with you whether the system of telephone Cabinet meetings has ever been adopted before. Also, can you tell us what the differences are between a telephone Cabinet meeting and a round-robin Cabinet meeting, or what the advantages of the telephone Cabinet meeting are?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I said, I am not aware of any such considerations. Therefore, I would like to refrain from responding on this.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning a different matter. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has unveiled a plan to develop hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles ahead of the Olympic Games. Where does hydrogen fall in the energy policy of the Government? Do you have any particular policies in mind so that Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympic Games serves as a trigger for the building of a hydrogen society? Could you please tell us your plans?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the realization of a hydrogen society is set out in the Japan Revitalization Strategy. Accordingly, we identify hydrogen as a critical energy that will contribute significantly to our energy security and CO2 reductions. The Government intends to support the realization of a hydrogen society from a variety of angles, fully backing up this effort, for example, by using hydrogen for the Government’s official vehicles, offering subsidies for the introduction of hydrogen, or establishing hydrogen stations.   

REPORTER: My question concerns last November’s machinery order statistics which the Cabinet Office released this morning. The amount of private sector orders, excluding those for ships and electricity, increased by 1.3% compared to the previous month. This was the first increase in two months. These orders are regarded as a leading indicator of private capital investment. There seems to be a considerable gap between this figure and market projections. What is your outlook regarding capital investment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The exchange rate has shifted from excessive appreciation of the yen to around the 120 yen-level now. In this context, we are beginning to see quite a large number of companies, especially those in the export industry, attempting to carry out capital investment domestically, or companies increasing the proportion of manufacturing they conduct in Japan as opposed to overseas as much as possible. In this sense, the Government considers that things are moving in a positive direction for the Japanese economy as a whole.     

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the status of the Government’s review of security legislation. Today, some parts of the media reported that the consultations among the ruling parties, which are a prerequisite for Diet deliberations on the legislation, would start as early as next month. While this matter concerns the ruling parties rather than the Government, can you tell us the current status of the considerations regarding security legislation? I understand that the actual ruling parties’ consultations or policy considerations will start after an overall picture or outline of the bills has been presented. I suspect that in February, with the Diet being in session and budget deliberations taking place, some sensitive issues will be involved in raising this matter. As of now, how do you intend to move this process forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as these are consultations among the ruling parties, the Government is not in a position to comment. In any case, the Government is not aware of any agreement between the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito to resume the ruling parties’ consultations in February. The Government is aware that the ruling coalition’s statement of agreement spells out that the two parties will work to swiftly pass security-related bills in accordance with the recent Cabinet decision.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm, as of now, whether the Government intends to determine or release an overall picture or outline of the security legislation in advance.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We believe it is extremely important that the people understand the overall picture. I expect that these will be among the matters discussed between the ruling parties ahead of the Diet deliberations.


Page Top

Related Link