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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 24, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question about Okinawa. Aiko Shimajiri, the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, commented at a press conference today that Japan should request drastic revisions to the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement in the wake of the incident that occurred in Uruma City, Okinawa Prefecture. How do you react to this type of statement from a Minister?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding the comment by Minister Shimajiri you mentioned, she is a politician elected in Okinawa and has already been calling for revisions to the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement from her position as a National Diet member from Okinawa Prefecture and chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party of Okinawa. I think she was explaining her intent to continue making the request in light of her background.

REPORTER: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has maintained a cautious stance toward revision of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement thus far, including his comment that “this is something that involves the other party” in National Diet explanations. How does the Government intend to address the topic of revisions to the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has already been making efforts to improve handling of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement. This includes interacting with the US side on necessary items and trying to improve management on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, the Abe administration concluded the Agreement to Supplement the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement on Environmental Stewardship. While I am aware that a variety of opinions exist in regards to the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, the Government intends to accumulate visible improvements on various matters in an effective and prompt manner and promote suitable operation of the Agreement, and thereby obtain the understanding of the general public.


REPORTER: I’d like to change the topic. You mentioned that you made comments at the Cabinet Meeting this morning. Could you explain what you stated at the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The G7 Summit is taking place on May 26-27. We cannot reject the possibility of a terrorist incident occurring not only in Ise-Shima where the Summit is taking place, but in other locations too, because the Summit is an ideal target for terrorists as it brings leaders from major countries together in a single location. I requested again that Ministers retain an awareness of the challenging terrorist environment and maintain a framework that allows for contact at any time.

REPORTER: This is related. I believe the Prime Minister’s Office is primarily in charge of security operations for the Summit. Please explain your thoughts on how the Prime Minister’s Office will stay in touch with related ministries and agencies and related entities.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government cannot rule out this possibility during the Summit, as I just explained, and it is very important to be ready to urgently hold a meeting of the National Security Council and conduct Cabinet Meeting procedures to deal with various responses to conditions if a serious terrorist incident occurs. The Government is collaborating closely with the National Police Agency and the Japan Coast Guard as well. It has been working up to now to gather international terrorism intelligence, bolster central management capabilities, ensure rigorous surveillance and security at the Summit site and waters around Kashiko Island, take border-level actions, strengthen surveillance and security at important facilities and soft targets, and promote ant-terrorism measures with integrated public and private efforts. The event is about to begin, and I believe it is very important to solidify operations with a healthy sense of urgency. As I explained during my observation visit to Ise-Shima, Japan needs to extensively exhibit surveillance with uniformed police officers around not just the Ise-Shima area, but also Shinkansen trains, department stores, and other soft targets. Police authorities are cooperating with facility managers on surveillance and security activities too. In any case, this is a very large security operation, and the Prime Minister’s Office has been taking the lead as the control tower to mobilize the Government’s full capabilities to prevent terrorism ahead of time.

REPORTER: The Cabinet Office disclosed an estimate of damages from the earthquakes in the Kumamoto region yesterday with a range of 2.4 trillion yen to 4.6 trillion yen. What are your thoughts on the estimates?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is the estimated range of the impact from the earthquakes in the Kumamoto region. Two quakes with a maximum seismic intensity of 7 struck the area, and aftershocks are still continuing. Affected areas incurred broad damages to the foundational lifestyle of residents, production facilities and equipment supporting the area, and social infrastructure. These damages have significantly impacted the lives of residents as well as production, employment and other aspects of the local economy, and the Japanese economy as a whole through the supply chain and domestic and overseas tourism. The Government takes future conditions into consideration as well. Its analysis of the impact of the Kumamoto Earthquake on the regional economy and Japanese economy, which uses the forecasting method from the Great East Japan Earthquake, references damages in the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Chuetsu Earthquake in Niigata, and provisional estimates of damages to existing structures, including residential homes as well as machinery, equipment and structures owned by companies, resulted in a range of 2.4 trillion yen to 4.6 trillion yen. It intends to continue to assess the situation, including whether damages from the Kumamoto Earthquake stay within this range, particularly because aftershocks are continuing.


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