Skip to main content

Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  June 2016 >  June 6, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 6, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, the study team for the initial response for the Kumamoto earthquakes will hold its first meeting. As natural disasters occur frequently in Japan, the Government considers it extremely important that in order to protect the lives and properties of the people, the Government learns everything there is to learn from past natural disasters and draw on these lessons to inform future natural disaster responses. While many people are still forced to evacuate from their homes in the affected areas, their needs have shifted from initial response to recovery and reconstruction, including the rebuilding of their lives and support for businesses. Against this backdrop, a two-phase study will be conducted on the initial response and the measures to support the daily lives of the affected people following the Kumamoto earthquakes, while this is still fresh in the memory of those who were involved in the responses. In the first phase, by the end of June, the study team for the initial response that will meet today, under the leadership of Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita, will study the responses undertaken by the Team to Support the Daily Lives of Disaster Victims established immediately after the Kumamoto earthquakes, focusing on the three areas of local government support, transportation of relief supplies, and operation of evacuation centers. Following this, in the second phase, from July, a working group consisting of external experts and members of the affected local governments and relevant ministries and agencies will be established under the Central Disaster Management Council’s Disaster Management Implementation Committee which I chair. Taking into account the discussions held by the study team for the initial response, the working group will carry out an overall study of the emergency responses and support for the daily lives of the disaster victims. The outcome of the study will be compiled into a set of recommendations aimed at contributing to the revisions of the institutional and operational arrangements.  


REPORTER: I have a question concerning yesterday’s Okinawa Prefectural Assembly election. As a result of the election, the ruling parties of the prefecture that support Governor Takeshi Onaga and are opposed to the relocation of Futenma Air Station of the U.S. Forces to Henoko won 27 seats, three more than before the start of the official election campaign, and maintained their majority. Can you please share your comments regarding the overall outcome? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as I always say, the Government would like to refrain from making comments regarding local government elections. Having said that, generally speaking, in a local prefectural assembly election, the candidates vie with each other over their assertions about issues such as the development of the local economy, improving the lives of the people, and the characteristics of the region. I perceive that this was manifested in the results.   


REPORTER: My question is in relation to incidents or accidents involving the U.S. Forces. Precisely as you stated a short while ago, Japan and the United States are now holding consultations regarding measures for preventing a recurrence. But in the midst of all of this, again, this past weekend, a U.S. Forces personnel was arrested for drunk driving. What are your thoughts regarding this case?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Under no circumstances should there be any incidents and accidents involving the personnel of U.S. Forces in Japan as well as civilian personnel. The case in question is extremely regrettable and inexcusable. Upon being informed of this accident, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida immediately lodged a strong protest to Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy. I have been briefed that Ambassador Kennedy extended her apologies for this incident and to those injured and their families. In addition, the Ambassador stated that the fact that such an incident occurred during the period of unity and mourning in Okinawa is deeply upsetting and that the U.S. Government would cooperate fully with the investigation of the Japanese authorities. 

REPORTER: I have a related question. This drunk driving accident has further ignited calls in Okinawa over the need to fundamentally revise the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). What is your opinion regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Recently, at the meeting between Minister of Defense Nakatani and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, the two ministers agreed that, in order to ensure that a tragic incident like the one that occurred in Okinawa Prefecture never happens again, they would establish effective measures to prevent a recurrence of incidents and accidents involving U.S. Forces personnel and civilian personnel. The two ministers concurred that these measures to prevent a recurrence would cover areas including reviewing the treatment of U.S. personnel with SOFA status including the civilian component, strengthening the monitoring of SOFA status of U.S. personnel including the civilian component, and enhancing education and training for U.S. personnel including the civilian component. In any case, consultations between Japan and the United States will proceed swiftly in order to quickly compile feasible and effective measures to prevent a recurrence.

REPORTER: With the prospect of an additional interest rate hike dimming in the United States, the yen has been appreciating and the dollar has been depreciating at a rapid pace in the foreign currency exchange market since last weekend. What is the Government’s view regarding the exchange rate trends and the current exchange rate level?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that according to U.S. employment statistics released last weekend, job growth in May was lower than what was previously forecasted and slowed significantly since the previous month. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on the stock prices or the exchange rate movements at each moment in time. While a sudden increase in speculative moves had been observed in the recent exchange rate market, we consider that rapid fluctuations are undesirable and that a stable exchange rate is critically important. Under these circumstances, we will closely follow the movements in the exchange rate market with a sense of urgency to ensure that speculative moves do not continue, and steadily take responses when necessary. I believe these responses were the nature of the agreement reached at the G7 and G20 summits.


Page Top

Related Link