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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 25, 2017 (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]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

If circumstances of the Diet permit, Prime Minister Abe will pay visits to Russia and the United Kingdom from April 27-30, with plans to hold a Japan-Russia summit meeting and a Japan-U.K. summit meeting respectively. In the upcoming Japan-Russia summit meeting, based on the summit meeting held in Yamaguchi Prefecture in December 2016 and Japan-Russia interactions thereafter, a frank discussion is planned regarding bilateral relations, including the peace treaty issue, as well as international affairs. During Prime Minister Abe's first visit to the U.K. since Prime Minister May took office, in addition to confirming close Japan-U.K. cooperation in the upcoming G7 Summit at the end of May, an exchange of opinions regarding the U.K.'s withdrawal from the EU and other topics is also planned.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about the schedule for relocating the U.S. military's Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Nago City. The Government has indicated one schedule under which the relocation would be completed by fiscal year 2022 or later, as well as another schedule under which operations would cease at Futenma Air Station within five years of February 2014, which Prime Minister Abe described as being difficult in the Diet. Please share how the Government currently perceives the schedule.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the seawall construction has just started today, and at the current stage I would like to refrain from making a concrete statement on the period when construction will be complete. In any event, the Government will continue to thoroughly consider safety in the construction, and consider the natural environment and living environment of the residents to the maximum possible extent based on the applicable laws, and proceed with construction steadily and quickly to realize the return of Futenma Air Station as soon as possible.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I believe the plan to complete the relocation by fiscal year 2022 or later was a plan agreed upon with the U.S. government. Do you perceive that agreement as still being applicable?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: On this point, it was agreed in a summit meeting discussion between Prime Minister Abe and President Obama in February 2013 to proceed as quickly as possible with the plan to return the U.S. military bases located in the densely populated areas south of Kadena, which contain 80% of Okinawa's population. In April of the same year, a plan for returning approximately 70% of the land area was presented, with the timing of the return indicated for the first time. Within that plan, the return of Futenma Air Station in fiscal year 2022 or later was agreed, and as I have just stated, I believe it is important that we steadily proceed with construction for the relocation and return of Futenma Air Station.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask a question related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the Cabinet meeting this morning, it was decided that the position of Chief Negotiator for the TPP Agreement, which has been vacant, will be assigned to Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Katakami. Amid the search for a solution to implement the TPP without the U.S., what role do you expect the Chief Negotiator to play?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, considering the weighty duties of the Chief Negotiator, the role was decided under the viewpoint of finding the right person for the job, taking into account administrative experience thus far. In any event, a person was selected who can firmly respond to the developments regarding the TPP.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. As part of Prime Minister Abe's visit to Russia, which you mentioned in your opening statement, what discussions do you expect to take place with Russia regarding the Northern Territories issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe there will be discussions centered on the joint economic activities to take place on the Four Northern Islands, which were agreed in the summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Russia is considered to have major influence over North Korea. Do you believe the North Korea issue will be a major theme in the upcoming talks in Russia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: When we consider the current situation, it is likely such an issue will be discussed.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask a question related to Syria. It has been understood that there is the possibility electrical power from a thermal power plant supported by Japan through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is being supplied to military facilities. The Government says it is engaged in emergency and humanitarian support, so how do you perceive the possibility that the electrical power is being used for military purposes? Furthermore, has the Government confirmed the fact until now?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding economic cooperation with Syria, in 2011 Japan decided to put all new economic cooperation proposals, aside from support of an emergency or humanitarian nature, under review, and there is no current change to that policy. Regarding the support for Jandar Power Station you just mentioned, we consider that support to have an emergency and humanitarian nature by providing electricity vital to the lives of Syrian people facing difficult living conditions amid the Syrian crisis. We have carried out this support until now regardless of whether the area is under the control of the Assad regime, and that has been made public. The electrical power produced at the power station is widely distributed to medical, educational, and supply facilities for the Syrian people through the domestic power grid system. I have confirmed that the supply of the electricity is limited to specific facilities.

REPORTER: I would like to make a confirmation. Does that mean you have confirmed if electrical power has been supplied to military facilities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, regarding the destinations of the power supply, electrical power is indispensable for daily life in its use for areas such as healthcare, sanitation, education, and provision of the water supply, and we recognize that supplying electrical power to all the Syrian people is exceedingly important as they face the country's power shortage.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm once more. Does that mean supply to military facilities has been confirmed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, we consider the support for the power station, which provides electricity vital to the lives of Syrian people facing difficult living conditions amid the Syrian crisis, to have an emergency, humanitarian nature.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to North Korea. It seems that a large-scale bombardment exercise took place under the observation of Chairman Kim Jong-un. How does the Government analyze the aims of North Korea in only carrying out these domestic exercises which are not nuclear tests or missile launches?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Maybe it would be best for you to ask North Korea about that. As I have stated, the Government is continually collecting and analyzing information regarding movements of North Korea. However, based on the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from making a comment on the results of that analysis. To go further, the Government will continue closely cooperating with the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, and while strongly demanding that North Korea refrain from provocative actions and comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions, will take all possible measures to secure the peace and safety of Japan with a sense of urgency to be able to respond to any situation and protect the lives and property of our citizens by maintaining an advanced monitoring and surveillance structure.

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