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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 16, 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: I have a question regarding the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture. In the lawsuit to confirm illegality relating to the relocation to Henoko, the Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court rendered a judgment in favor of the Government. Can you please share the comments of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In this lawsuit, the Government argued that the Okinawa Governor’s revocation of the landfill approval for the Futenma Air Station relocation project in the coast of Henoko was illegal. We consider that the judgment recognized the argument of the Government, that a judicial judgment was rendered affirming that the Okinawa Governor’s failure to retract his revocation of the landfill approval was illegal. Based on this judicial judgment, the Government will continue to make sincere efforts in line with the purport of the settlement between the Government and Okinawa Prefecture.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The judgment states that the relocation to Henoko will mitigate the burden on Okinawa on the whole, that the relocation of Futenma by reclaiming land will contribute to mitigating the burden of the bases of Okinawa Prefecture and therefore does not go against the popular will to mitigate the burden of the bases, and that there is no other option than to build a replacement facility in Henoko in order to remove the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station. The judgment fully affirms the opinion that the Government has been arguing from before. What is your assessment in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We welcome the fact that the argument of the Government was affirmed. That said, this problem traces back to the need to remove the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station, which is considered the most dangerous military base in the world, and to prevent it from remaining at its current location indefinitely. Taking this into consideration, along with the deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. Alliance, the Government selected Henoko as the relocation site by a Cabinet decision, after both the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture and Mayor of Nago City expressed acceptance of the landfill in Henoko. The Government has been conducting landfill work upon obtaining previous Governor Nakaima’s approval of the landfill. By relocating Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Futenma will have approximately one-third of its current functions. At the same time one-third of the U.S. troops in Okinawa that is said to number 280,000 personnel will leave Okinawa Prefecture and Japan for Guam and elsewhere. As an outcome of this, this is the direction we will be moving towards. In this sense, it will contribute significantly to mitigating the burden on Okinawa. It is the same as what we, the Government, has been arguing in particular.

REPORTER: Do you perceive that the rendering of this judicial judgment will lead to solving the relocation issue, this longstanding dispute between the Government and Okinawa Prefecture?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the terms of settlement between the Government and Okinawa Prefecture, it states that dialogues would be conducted in parallel with the lawsuit, and that if a judicial judgment is ultimately rendered, both parties would respond in good faith in accordance with the text of the judgment. Therefore, the Government will take steps in accordance with these terms of settlement.

Sorry, I said there were 280,000 U.S. personnel in Okinawa, but it is 28,000 personnel. One-third of them will leave Japan for Guam and elsewhere. This is what I meant.


REPORTER: I understand that today, the families of the abductees met with Government officials. As was reported by the Japan Broadcasting Station (NHK) and other sources, I understand that while the families of abductees have been seeking additional sanctions upon each nuclear test conducted by North Korea, this time they requested the Government to separate the nuclear and abduction issues and to resolve the abduction issue first. Can you please share your views regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The abduction issue is the top priority of the Abe administration. Since the inauguration of the Abe Cabinet, the Government has been fully committed to resolving the abduction issue based on the Stockholm Agreement, applying strong pressure on North Korea while at the same time not closing Japan’s window to dialogue, based on the principles of dialogue and pressure and action for action. In any case, considering the feelings of the family members, it is natural that they would have such wishes. We take these wishes seriously and will continue to make efforts.


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