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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 20, 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 concerning the incident in which members of Osaka Prefectural Police dispatched to the construction site for a training facility that is due to be relocated in northern Okinawa Prefecture made discriminatory remarks to the protestors, using a derogatory term used to refer to native peoples. In response to this incident, Governor Matsui of Osaka Prefecture has stated that Osaka Prefectural Police should investigate the matter. However, he also went on to remark that the protestors were being unreasonable and questioned whether their actions were acceptable, suggesting that the protestors were engaging in extreme behavior. These comments could be interpreted as Governor Matsui defending the actions of the members of Osaka Prefectural Police. What is your understanding of this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of the details of what the Governor stated and I do not think that I should comment about specific individual statements made by the head of a local government.

REPORTER: I have a related question. A similar question was asked yesterday, about the background to this incident in Okinawa and how it has prompted opinions that there is inherent discrimination against Okinawa. In Okinawa, it has been pointed out that this recent incident is an expression of such discriminatory attitudes against Okinawa. What is your view on this point? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The comments made by members of the unit dispatched to Okinawa are unforgivable and I expect that the police will make an appropriately strict response, including measures to prevent any reoccurrence. If I were to say anything further, it would be to note that I also serve as Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa and the Abe administration is strongly committed to do everything it can possibly do to achieve results in a tangible manner concerning the alleviation of the burden of the bases on Okinawa. We will face each and every reality and will make every effort to realize results in a tangible manner. With regard to the relocation of the Northern Training Area, the villages of Kunigami and Higashi have examined methods of effectively utilizing the land that is due to be returned and have been requesting its early return and that the area be designated as a national park, with a view to achieving inscription as a world natural heritage site. The decision by the local governments to create a national park was made 20 years ago, but it is something that has yet to be realized. If this land were to be returned it would result in an overall reduction of 20 percent of the total area of bases used by U.S. Forces, and would help to alleviate the burden on Okinawa. The Government is making every effort to steadily advance relocation-related construction, with a view to achieving the return of the base by the end of the year. The Government would like to proceed with the understanding of local residents.

REPORTER: President Duterte of the Philippines is scheduled to visit Japan next week. With regard to the regional situation, including the issue of the South China Sea, President Duterte seems to be moving closer to China. What stance will the Government adopt with regard to the Philippines?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Philippines is an important strategic regional partner for Japan. The President of the Philippines is scheduled to visit Japan next week and the Government would like to use this opportunity to further advance Japan’s strategic partnership with the Philippines.

REPORTER: President Duterte is today meeting with the President of China. It would appear that President Duterte is moving closer to China concerning the matter of the South China Sea. Can I ask for the Government’s opinion on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not aware of what meetings have taken place in China and what specifically has been said, so I would like to refrain from making any comment. In any event, issues concerning the South China Sea are a matter of the utmost concern for the international community, including Japan, as they are directly linked to regional peace and prosperity. There is no change in the Government’s thinking that we must work to ensure open, free and peaceful seas. Accordingly, we will continue to work in cooperation with the international community, including the Philippines.

REPORTER: The mayor of Ishigaki City of Okinawa Prefecture has recently visited you to request enhanced monitoring and surveillance in response to the repeated incursions by Chinese government and fishing vessels in the waters in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands. Can I ask for your thoughts on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In particular, since August between 200 and 300 fishing vessels have entered the waters in the vicinity and they pose a serious threat. The mayor of Ishigaki City requested that monitoring and surveillance structures be enhanced to ensure that people engaged in the fishing industry in Ishigaki can go about their business in safety and with peace of mind. I responded that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory historically and under international law, and the Government intends to respond resolutely and in a level-headed manner in order to firmly protect our territory, territorial waters, and territorial airspace.

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