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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 24, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the relocation plan for Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Nago City. In a hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Forces yesterday, Admiral Harry B. Harris, Commander of United States Pacific Command indicated that the relocation plan is running two years behind the initial schedule and is now expected to be completed in 2025. Is this outlook one that has been communicated from the Government of Japan to the Government of the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the comments made by the Commander of United States Pacific Command. The situation with regard to the relocation to Henoko is that land reclamation work began in October last year and therefore we are not yet at a stage where anything can be stated in concrete terms about the status of progress. The Government will continue to seek to gradually advance the construction work for the relocation to Henoko in accordance with relevant laws and ordinances and in order to achieve the return of Futenma Air Station without delay. The Government is continuing to consult with the United States concerning the overall plans for realignment of U.S. Forces and we have indicated to the United States our strong resolve to advance such plans.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the situation in the South China Sea. United States media outlets are reporting that China has deployed fighter aircraft to the Paracel Islands. Can I ask for your views on these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to reiterate that China’s repeated attempts to create faits accomplis is a source of grave concern for Japan. The unilateral actions observed to date in the South China Sea to change the status quo and raise tensions, including large-scale and rapid land reclamations, construction of outposts, and their use for military purposes are a cause of common concern for the international community. I would like to emphasize once again that these actions cannot be recognized as faits accomplis. The Government considers it to be of the utmost importance to cooperate with the international community to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight and we will continue to respond accordingly, working together with countries concerned. In any event, in response to your observation, what I would say is that the Government takes a close interest in actions by China in the South China Sea and is engaged in efforts to collect and analyze information. I would like to refrain from going into specific details about such information.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against North Korea. United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi have held a meeting and in a press conference afterwards Foreign Minister Wang indicated that there is a possibility of reaching agreement on the draft resolution and passing it in the near future. What is the current recognition of the Government of Japan with regard to the expected timing of the adoption of the draft resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is the case that all countries concerned are currently engaged in vigorous discussions on the UNSC draft resolution relating to sanctions against North Korea. I have heard that the United States and China have made progress in their bilateral discussions. The current situation is that Japan remains committed to working closely with all countries concerned, including the United States, to ensure that a strong resolution can be swiftly adopted.

REPORTER: I have a related question. With regard to the draft resolution, there was previously some distance between the views of China and those of Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Is it now the case that China has drawn closer to the position of the other three nations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The report I received indicated that the United States and China have engaged in vigorous discussions, which have resulted in a certain degree of progress.

REPORTER: If that is the case, is it likely that the draft resolution will be adopted in the course of the next few days?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, as the situation concerning the timing of adoption is one that we must continue to monitor, the Government of Japan will continue to make every effort to achieve a strong resolution as swiftly as possible.


REPORTER: I have a question on Japan-Russia relations. According to some press reports, during the Japan-U.S. summit telephone talks on February 9, President Obama either requested Prime Minister Abe to refrain from making his planned visit to Russia over Golden Week, or expressed concern about it. Could you tell us the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to note that from a diplomatic viewpoint I will refrain from commenting on the details of the summit telephone talks. With regard to policy on Russia, there is no change whatsoever to the Government’s stance of cooperating and maintaining close contact with the United States and working together with the G7 to respond appropriately to the various issues that face the international community, including the situation in Ukraine.

REPORTER: If that is the case, can we also assume that there is no change to the plan for the Prime Minister to make a visit to Russia in the spring?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Arrangements are currently being made with a view to Prime Minister Abe making an informal visit to Russia at an appropriate time prior to a visit to Japan by President Putin. I would like to refrain from commenting further.

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