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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 26, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question about the plan for transferring the U.S. Military’s Futenma Air Station to Henoko. You disclosed at the House of Representatives Cabinet Committee meeting this morning that the Government protested the comment by Admiral Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, that the transfer completion would be delayed until 2025. Please explain specifically when and the format of the protest and also identify the portion of the comments that the Government found problematic which prompted the protest.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Japanese side did not present an outlook to the U.S. side for postponement of the plan for transferring the Futenma Air Station to Henoko from the original schedule to 2025. We are moving forward on plans related to realignment of the U.S. military, including the transfer to Henoko, while engaging in discussions with the U.S. side. The Japanese side is firmly resolved to steadily proceed with the various plans, and we expressed this point. The latest comments took place within this context so the Government sent a message through diplomatic channels that Japan thinks it is very important to continue moving forward with discussions of the transfer plan, which has important meaning for both countries, in the same manner as up to now, and it reconfirmed this content between Japan and the United States.

REPORTER: This is related. When did Japan make the protest through diplomatic channels?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that we sent this message through diplomatic channels shortly after the comments were made.


REPORTER: I would like to switch the topic to the consumption tax. Please explain the Government’s current fundamental view of the consumption tax hike. Additionally, if it is not entirely ruling out a freeze, under what conditions would a freeze be an option?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commented at the Financial Affairs Committee on February 24 that the Government intends to implement the consumption tax hike to 10% in April 2017 unless a severe situation such as a Lehman Shock-like occurrence or a major natural disaster happens, and then mentioned the significant contraction of the global economy in his explanation of the type of event that constituted a severe situation such as a Lehman Shock-like occurrence or a major natural disaster. In any case, the Government has not changed its position from the existing stance.


REPORTER: This is a different topic. While the Takahama No.4 Nuclear Reactor was scheduled to restart operations today, the plant operator discovered a leak of cooling water just before the operations resumed. Local residents are saying that proper attention should be given to safety measures. Please explain your view of the plant restart including this point.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A leak of cooling water was discovered at the Takahama No.4 Nuclear Reactor on February 20. Kansai Electric subsequently determined the cause and took actions on February 22 and conducted negotiations. It is obviously important for Kansai Electric Power to learn from this trouble and proceed with safety as a top priority. I am aware that it plans to start the nuclear reactor today after a stringent inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. At any rate, safety comes first and I hope that Kansai Electric Power will raise its alertness and steadily implement processes with safety as a top priority.


REPORTER: This is a separate topic. Japan, Australia, and India held a Foreign Affairs Senior Officials Meeting this morning and reached agreement on strengthening collaboration in dealing with the South China Sea problem and the response to North Korea. Please explain your thoughts about the method and significance of collaboration among the three countries that share the core values of democracy and rule of law.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think it is very important when considering the safety and security of this region for related countries with the same values to collaborate in a variety of ways.

REPORTER: I have a question about the agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) regarding comfort women from December 2015. While one of the points from the agreement items states that Japan and the ROK would not criticize each other at the United Nations and other global venues, various misperceptions about the comfort women issue still exist. Do you think Japan should exhibit an attitude of aggressively addressing misperceptions in the international community without being constrained by the agreement provisions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Shinsuke Sugiyama, a Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, recently commented on these differences with reality at a United Nations meeting, and I believe it is important to respond in a proper fashion.


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