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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 31, 2015 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question concerning Okinawa. Today, the West Futenma Housing Area of Camp Foster will be returned to Japan. Could I ask for the views of the Government concerning the return of this area?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is committed to a policy of making every effort to do all it can to reduce the burden of the bases on Okinawa, listening earnestly to the opinions of the people of Okinawa. In particular, at the time of the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, the Prime Minister strongly requested the reversion of bases in Okinawa, and following the meeting with President Obama, a concrete schedule for reversion was set out for the first time. The West Futenma Housing Area, one of the areas scheduled for reversion, has been returned based on that agreement, constituting an area of 51 hectares, or the equivalent of 11 Tokyo Domes. Furthermore, following the summit meeting, a policy was agreed that would realize the reversion of 70 percent of the U.S. bases south of Kadena, where local populations are concentrated. This constitutes an area equivalent to approximately 220 Tokyo Domes. The Government therefore intends to engage in efforts to realize the next phase of reversions as quickly as possible. Japan and the United States have reached agreement on the circumstances for such reversions through the revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. Given the Government’s wish to enable the land to be swiftly put to use following reversion, we are making every effort to ensure its full utilization. The reversion of the West Futenma Housing Area is the first of its kind and therefore will serve as a model case. As such, and given the requests from the local mayor and the prefecture concerning an initiative for an international medical research hub, the Government will provide all the necessary assistance to realize this initiative. At any rate, the Government will continue to make every effort to alleviate the burden on Okinawa in a tangible manner.


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