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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 20, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga


CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, a Ministerial Meeting on Okinawa was convened before the Cabinet meeting. Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida and Minister of Defense Nakatani briefed the meeting that protests were lodged against the United States. The meeting reaffirmed that Japan would continue to urge the United States to cooperate with the investigation, enforce official discipline among U.S. Forces and civilian personnel, and prevent a recurrence. 

Next, I have an announcement regarding the first meeting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Promotion Headquarters. This Headquarters chaired by Prime Minister Abe held its first meeting. The Headquarters was established within the Cabinet on the 20th to facilitate close collaboration among the relevant administrative agencies to promote the implementation of Japan’s measures related to the SDGs. At the meeting, the Headquarters decided to develop guidelines for Japan’s establishment of sustainable development goals. In addition, Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s measures to contribute to Middle East assistance, health, and women’s empowerment in the lead-up to the G7 Ise-Shima Summit next week.


Recently, a supplementary budget was passed to implement responses to the earthquakes in Kumamoto. In this light, the Liaison Council for Supporting the Restoration and Reconstruction from the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake was established, chaired by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita and comprised of vice ministerial-level officials of ministries and agencies. The objective is to move forward and make swift progress with the restoration and reconstruction efforts in the affected areas. The Council will hold its first meeting this afternoon. The Government will continue to make concerted efforts for the restoration and reconstruction of the affected areas with the intention of doing everything that is possible. 


REPORTER: With regard to the incident you referred to in your opening statement, a body of a woman was found in Uruma City. A 32 year old U.S. Forces employee has been arrested. What is the comment of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At around 3:10 PM yesterday, the 19th, the Okinawa Prefectural Police arrested suspect Kenneth Franklin Shinzato of the U.S. Forces on suspicion of dumping the body. This cruel and heinous act of a member of the U.S. Forces against a young woman with a bright future ahead of her is intolerable, egregious, and deplorable. I would like to express my deepest condolences and sympathies for Ms. Shimabukuro, whose life has been taken away. I am at a loss for words when I think about the sorrow of the family members. Late last night, on the 19th, Foreign Minister Kishida lodged a strong protest to Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, and Defense Minister Nakatani lodged a strong protest to Lt. Gen. John Dolan, Commander of the U.S. Forces Japan. The ministers urged the United States to enforce official discipline and prevent a recurrence. 

REPORTER: Governor Takeshi Onaga of Okinawa Prefecture has commented that this incident occurred because the bases are located in Okinawa. It is expected that the people of Okinawa will further step up their opposition to the concentration of bases in Okinawa. What is your outlook regarding the impacts of this issue, including on the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Okinawa has been asked to bear a considerable burden over the past 70 years since the end of World War II. This situation is unacceptable, and the Government has a significant responsibility to alleviate this burden. The Government remains fully committed to alleviating this burden based on our policy of doing everything that is possible, while standing with the people of Okinawa. 


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. Today, in Taiwan, Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party will be inaugurated as President. Can you please share your comments, including with regard to future Japan-Taiwan relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan welcomes the inauguration of Dr. Tsai Ing-wen as President today. Taiwan is Japan’s key partner and an important friend with which we share fundamental values and have close economic ties and people-to-people exchanges. The Government will make efforts to further deepen the bilateral cooperation and exchanges, based on the position of maintaining non-governmental, working-level relations with Taiwan.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It is anticipated that China will continue to repeatedly pressure Taiwan to accept the One-China Principle. What impacts do you envision the inauguration of the new administration in Taiwan having on China-Taiwan relations and Japan-China relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, with regard to the issue over Taiwan, Japan expects that it will be resolved peacefully through direct dialogues between the Taiwanese and Chinese parties and that this will contribute to regional peace and stability. I do not see this having any impact on Japan-China relations.


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