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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 1, 2017 (AM)

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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
(There were statements on the overview of the Cabinet meeting and on the ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting.)



REPORTER: I believe this is the last time you are giving the usual press conference following the Cabinet meeting under the current third re-reshuffled Abe administration. It has been one year since the administration was inaugurated on August 3 of last year. Looking back on the past year can you please share your thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Abe administration has consistently given top priority to revitalizing the economy. On this basis, the administration launched the three arrows of Abenomics in rapid succession, which has increased the ratio of job offers to applicants to the current 1.51, which is the highest level in 43 years. Furthermore, the number of newly employed people has risen to 1.85 million. The economy is no longer deflationary and is making a steady recovery. The ratio for full-time employees is also over 1. In addition, Japan faces an extremely severe security situation. Accordingly, we are making steady efforts to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the Japanese people while solidifying the Japan-U.S. Alliance. At the same time, I believe it is also true that the explanations from the Government have changed again and again and this has led to public distrust towards the Government. If we receive any inquiries, we will continue to sincerely fulfill our accountability at every such instance. I believe this is essential.

REPORTER: I have a question related to alleviating the impact of U.S. military bases, which you are tasked with. While the Northern Training Area has been returned, I believe there are still challenges to realizing the early return of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma through its relocation to Henoko, partly due to opposition from Okinawa Prefecture. What are your views with regard to alleviating the impact of bases in Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the issue of alleviating the impact of bases in Okinawa, there had been no progress at all for more than 20 years since the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement was reached. It was decided about 20 years ago that MCAS Futenma would be relocated by reclaiming the land off Henoko, with a view to closing and eliminating the dangers posed by MCAS Futenma, which is said to be the most dangerous base in the world, and to maintain deterrence. The situation had remained at a complete standstill since then. However, the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture approved the land reclamation, and this work is now moving along although there have been many twists and turns. In particular, Japan is a law-abiding country. In that respect, the national and prefectural governments must cooperate with each other on this issue and work in good faith to move forward with the land reclamation work in Henoko in accordance with the Supreme Court decision and the purport of the settlement. The Government will make progress one by one towards the relocation to Henoko, while ensuring the safety of the work and giving considerations to the natural environment and the local living environment in accordance with the relevant laws and ordinances.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the comfort women issue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK) set up a working group yesterday to investigate the process that led to the Japan-ROK agreement. It appears that the working group will compile the results of its investigation by as early as the end of this year, which the ROK will draw upon to determine whether to request a renegotiation of the agreement. What is your comment on the establishment of the working group?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government would like to refrain from commenting on every action taken by the Government of the ROK. I would add that Japan and the ROK confirmed in the agreement from 2015 that this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly. It is of utmost importance that both countries steadily implement this agreement that was highly valued by the international community. In this regard, we will continue to seize a variety of opportunities to persistently request the ROK to steadily implement the agreement.

REPORTER: I imagine that an investigation into the Japan-ROK agreement will bring into question the objectivity of the agreement. Will the Government urge the ROK to ensure that Japan’s opinions and information are reflected?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the agreement from 2015 both sides agreed that the issue of comfort women is resolved finally and irreversibly. The Government therefore considers that it is of utmost importance to implement this agreement.


REPORTER: My question is in regard to China’s gas field development in the East China Sea. It has been reported that a new mobile drillship of China was found near the geographical equidistance line between Japan and China in the East China Sea. It seems that China may have already started operations to establish a gas field drilling facility. Can you please tell us what facts the Government is aware of?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we have confirmed that China stopped a mobile drillship on the Chinese side of the waters near the geographical equidistance line between Japan and China in the East China Sea, and is conducting some kind of operation. The Japan Coast Guard issued a navigation warning on July 28 to ensure the safety of the vessels sailing in the area. It is highly regrettable that in disregard of our repeated requests, China continues to conduct unilateral development in these waters when the Japan-China maritime borders in the East China Sea are not delimited. Japan immediately lodged a protest to China through diplomatic channels. Every time we become aware of China’s relevant activities, we ask China to suspend its unilateral development activities and further establish claims as a fait accompli, and we will continue to do so. In addition, the Government will continue to strongly urge China to swiftly resume consultations based on the 2008 agreement regarding Japan-China cooperation on resource development in the East China Sea, and to implement this agreement as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: You stated that the Government immediately lodged a protest. Was there any response from China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that China responded based on its own assertions. As these are diplomatic exchanges I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.


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