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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 2, 2015 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: I have a related question. You have held quite a number of dialogues with Governor Takeshi Onaga thus far. Once again can you tell us what you think about this situation of having to face off against Okinawa Prefecture in this manner in court?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In August, the construction work was suspended for one month to conduct frank exchanges of views. In this process, it became apparent that our views regarding the starting point were different. Around 20 years ago, based on the Government’s recognition that Futenma Air Station was extremely dangerous, and that it must eliminate the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station and not allow it to remain at its location indefinitely, Japan and the United States reached an agreement. In accordance with this agreement, the Government obtained the consent of the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and the local mayor regarding the relocation to Henoko. On this basis, a Cabinet decision was approved, and we have come to where we are today. To come to where we are today, many officials of Okinawa Prefecture made tremendous efforts. In addition, Government officials who preceded us made efforts as well. Through this process, two years ago, the Government finally obtained the approval of the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture for the land reclamation. This was the process that took place. However, the aspirations or the activities of the people who made these efforts are rendered almost futile with the current Governor tracing the starting point back to the postwar years, back to the U.S. occupation following the end of World War II. There was no room for discussion on this. At one time, when Governor Onaga was a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, he himself used to call for the relocation to Henoko. In light of this, the situation is extremely regrettable.


REPORTER: My question is related to the previous question. With regard to eliminating the dangers, Mr. Onaga, as is also stated in his written opinion, notes that it will take 10 to 15 years until the base in Henoko is completed. He asserts that if, in the meantime, Futenma remains at its location and the dangers it poses are neglected, this is the same as allowing Futenma to remain at its location indefinitely. What is your view in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that is not true at all. Since the inauguration of the Abe administration, relocation has become newly viable for at least two of the three functions of Futenma Air Station. Last year, 15 aerial refueling aircraft were relocated to Iwakuni Air Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture, were they not? In this sense, the Government is fully committed to alleviating the burden of the base. I ask that there be understanding on this.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. I would like to ask a question in connection with Haneda Airport which you visited a short while ago. Following your visit, you stated that the Government would take all possible measures to strengthen immigration control, including allocating the supplementary budget, to respond to the rapid increases in tourists and others. Specifically, were you referring to increasing the number of personnel?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as I also stated briefly moments ago, immigration and customs are the entrance that foreign visitors to Japan first pass through after arriving in Japan. Therefore, it is a matter of course that immigration and customs reflect the spirit of Japanese “omotenashi” or hospitality, so that the visitors do not find them disagreeable. In this regard, we need to ensure that visitors can complete customs clearance in 20 minutes or less and enter the country feeling good. At the same time, we of course need to take steadfast measures to counter terrorism, and thus, border control is necessary. In this sense, I anticipate that the number of personnel needs to be increased, and that equipment such as the body scanner I observed earlier is needed. In this sense, the Government will respond by taking all possible measures.


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