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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

December 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 would like to ask about the Futenma Air Station decision. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the central government in the lawsuit confirming the illegality of issues surrounding the move of the U.S. military’s Futenma Air Station to Henoko. What is the Government’s response to this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, a decision was announced today by the Supreme Court to dismiss the final appeal made by the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture. By this, the illegality of Governor Onaga’s revocation of the landfill approval was clearly decided by the judiciary, and I believe it shows the Supreme Court fully accepted the central government’s position. The Governor understands that the revocation of the landfill approval, which was declared illegal by the court, will now soon be cancelled. Japan is a country based on the rule of law, and in accordance with the court’s final decision and the compromise reached in March this year, the Government will proceed with the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko in cooperation with Okinawa Prefecture.

REPORTER: Based on the court’s decision, what schedule is being considered to restart the landfill construction at Henoko?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Governor’s revocation of the landfill approval, which has been declared illegal by court decision, must be canceled in a timely manner. We will focus on ascertaining that movement for now.

REPORTER: I have one more question. Governor Onaga has expressed his intention to use a variety of methods to prevent the relocation of the base to Henoko, such as refusing to renew the permission for coral reef development. With the Supreme Court’s decision, does the Government wish to consider the dispute with Okinawa over the relocation settled?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Government’s position was wholly accepted, what can be considered the final decision has been reached as a country based on the rule of law, rather than just the Government.

REPORTER: In regard to the timing of resuming landfill construction, the Prime Minister has been consistent in his intention to have talks with President-elect Trump of the United States soon after he takes office. Do you believe landfill construction will be resumed by the time of the summit meeting with Mr. Trump?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As a final decision has been reached, I believe it is natural Governor Onaga will soon cancel his revocation of the landfill permission. We would like to proceed while watching the movement in that area.

REPORTER: By sending a congratulatory message to Mr. Trump, and expressing his desire to speak with the President-elect, it appears Governor Onaga is hoping for a change in the United States’ perception of the Futenma problem. The Obama administration was driving the policy of relocating to Henoko. Does the Japanese Government expect Mr. Trump to maintain the same position on the relocation to Henoko?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The relocation to Henoko was agreed upon between the U.S. and Japan, in agreement with the local people, as the result of many years of discussion considering the removal of the dangers entailed by Futenma Air Station, preventing its permanence in the current location, and maintaining deterrent. I believe there will be no change in thinking that the relocation to Henoko is the only possible solution between Japan and the U.S.

REPORTER: I have one question. The subject is a bit different, but I would like to ask about Japan-Russia relations. During his recent lecture in Tokyo, Prime Minister Abe expressed his intention to visit Russia early next year out of his desire to further accelerate the improvement of relations. What time period is being considered for this visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister has expressed his intention to attend the 3rd Eastern Economic Forum to be held in September next year. In regard to discussions between the leaders of Japan and Russia, I believe the Prime Minister expressed his desire to meet as soon as possible in the lecture today, and based on that opinion I believe the time period will be arranged through the diplomatic route between our countries. Currently there is no specific time period for a visit. It will be arranged from now.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the comfort women issue. Today, in a press conference a civic group of the Republic of Korea expressed its intention to install a comfort women statue in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan. The civic group argues that Japan has not made any apology or expressed remorse, and Japan’s request to remove the statue is an indication of its lack of remorse. I would like to hear the Japanese Government’s response.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, the movement related to the installation of comfort women statues is entirely incompatible with the position of the Japanese Government. It is very unfortunate such a movement exists. Based on that viewpoint, the Japanese Government is explaining the position of Japan to various stakeholders, and we wish to continue this initiative. The Government has exchanged opinions with many stakeholders until now, and has used those opportunities to explain the Japanese Government’s basic position regarding a wide range of areas and its initiatives. In any case, we will continue to firmly respond and maintain our fundamental position.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question. A proposal to impeach President Park Geun-hye was approved in the Republic of Korea, and opposition is rising to revoke the Japan-ROK agreement made last year which confirmed the resolution of the comfort women issue. Please tell me how the Japanese Government will seek fulfillment of the Japan-ROK agreement.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, I would like to refrain from commenting on the domestic politics of the Republic of Korea. In any case, as the Japan-ROK agreement was mutually agreed upon by both countries, it is important both countries take responsibility to see it implemented. I believe it is important both countries faithfully implement the contents of the agreement.

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