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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 22, 2016 (PM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: My question concerns the remarks made by the U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mr. Trump. In his speech accepting the nomination for presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Trump once again underscored his intention to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Can you once again explain the views of the Government?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is consistently closely following the U.S. presidential election. While I am aware of the content of Mr. Trump’s speech, I would like to refrain from commenting on every remark made in the speech. Having said that, at the TPP leaders’ meeting last November, the leaders of 12 countries including the United States agreed to aim for the agreement’s early entry into force. It is the Government’s understanding that incumbent President Obama is taking steps to have the TPP agreement passed by Congress by the end of the year. In this context, Japan will lead the way, and thereby, build momentum for the early entry into force. At the same time, Japan expects that all countries including the United States will carry out responsible efforts to gain domestic support and undertake the relevant procedures, as was agreed upon among the relevant countries.  

REPORTER: I have a related question. With Japan and other countries in mind, Mr. Trump also stated that he would ask countries that the United States is defending to pay their fair share. What is your reaction to this remark?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Mr. Trump is not the President yet; he is simply a candidate. Therefore, I would like to refrain from commenting on a speech delivered by a candidate.

REPORTER: My question is related to the previous question. Japan pays for expenses associated with the stationing of the U.S. Forces in Japan, the so-called “Host Nation Support” (HNS). Some criticize that this amount is too expensive. What is your view regarding Mr. Trump’s assertion that Japan should bear an even greater portion of the expenses? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as I stated moments ago, Mr. Trump is a presidential candidate, and therefore, I would like to refrain from commenting on his each and every remark. Regardless of who becomes President, the Japan-U.S. Alliance forms the bedrock of Japanese diplomacy, and Japan will work closely with the United States for the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and the world. It is a fact that, as the security situation in this region becomes ever more severe, the Alliance centered around the Japan-U.S. security arrangements plays an important role as the foundation of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The Japan-U.S. security arrangements are not a framework that benefits only Japan or only the United States. The Government has always appropriately dealt with the HNS based on extensive talks conducted between Japan and the United States.      


REPORTER: I have a question about the Northern Training Area. With regard to the construction of helipads, you have always stated that the local mayor wishes for the land return, and that if the land is returned, this would lead to a significant alleviation of the impact of U.S. bases. However, at the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, a majority voted to pass a written opinion that requests the suspension of the helipad construction. Meanwhile, some note that Osprey trainings have increased at a rapid pace, and consequently, surrounding residents are suffering from noise pollution. In addition, last year, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a written opinion that protests the construction of a helipad in the N4 area in Higashi Village which entered service ahead of the others. What is the Government’s view regarding these opinions?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, we have resumed construction work as the necessary preparations have been completed for the relocation of helicopter landing areas in the Northern Training Area. The final report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) of 1996 states that a majority of the land of the Northern Training Area of approximately 4,000 ha would be returned to Japan. Under these circumstances, Kunigami and Higashi Villages aim to make effective use of the returned lands by designating them as national parks or inscribing them on UNESCO’s list of natural heritage sites, and therefore, I believe it is also true that the villages wish for the early return of the lands. If these lands are returned, the area of the bases of the U.S. Forces in Okinawa Prefecture would decrease by approximately 20%, contributing significantly to the alleviation of the impact of the bases in Okinawa. The Government is resolved to make utmost efforts to steadily proceed with the relocation construction work for a majority of the land of the Northern Training Area to be returned at the earliest possible date, and ask for the cooperation of the people in the host communities, including Okinawa Prefecture. With regard to explanations to Okinawa Prefecture, during the intensive consultations last August, I requested Governor Onaga for his cooperation with the return of the majority of the land of the Northern Training Area. Furthermore, during this year’s meetings of the council between the Government and Okinawa Prefecture as well as through direct requests by the Minister of Defense and exchanges via government documents, the Government has explained about the relocation construction on a number of occasions. In addition, as the entrance to this training area is located on a prefectural road, the Government has requested the cooperation of Okinawa Prefecture to take corrective measures against vehicles that have been illegally left on the prefectural road. It is true that Okinawa Prefecture has cooperated with this by, for example, posting warning notices for vehicles that have been illegally left there. Against this backdrop, today the Government started the construction work. We are aware that a resolution against the construction was adopted in Higashi Village or the Takae area. However, we understand that by today understanding has been obtained from the people of the Takae area.     


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