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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 3, 2017 (PM)

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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, and others.)


REPORTER: Could you tell us what the Prime Minister said in the first meeting of the new Cabinet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister stated to the effect that he wanted all Cabinet members to recall the resolve of the administration five years ago when we retook the reins of government and to not forget that starting point as we engage in efforts.

REPORTER: I have a related question about your own position. Since the inauguration of the Second Abe Cabinet you have continued to serve as Chief Cabinet Secretary. What are your thoughts about your own role in the Cabinet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Prime Minister himself has stated, this newly reshuffled Cabinet is a “Cabinet of doers.” I consider that my role is to engage wholeheartedly in all aspects so that we can achieve results, along with crisis management. During my time as Chief Cabinet Secretary there have been earthquakes and terrorist attacks. There have also been missile launches and other incidents. In those times we will be well-prepared to protect the people of Japan. I believe it to be of the utmost importance for the entire Cabinet to also engage in such measures on a daily basis with a sense of urgency.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You are continuing to concurrently serve as Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa. With regard to the issue of the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma there is once again legal confrontation between the central and prefectural governments. Can I ask how you intend to achieve a breakthrough in this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, given the extremely severe security environment surrounding Japan, the Abe administration has sought to maintain the deterrence capability of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. At the same time, it has taken steps to alleviate the impact of bases on Okinawa as one of the administration's top priorities, under a basic policy of doing everything that it is possible and also realizing alleviation of the impact of bases in a visible way. In particular, since the start of this administration, we have realized the relocation of 15 aerial refueling aircraft from MCAS Futenma to MCAS Iwakuni. Furthermore, we have achieved the return of the West Futenma Housing Area and 4,000 ha of the Northern Training Area, which equates to 20% of all U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture. Therefore, I believe that since the start of the Abe administration up until today the alleviation of the impact of bases has progressed steadily and in a visible way so that it is now beginning to be felt. However, it is still very much the case that the majority of bases remain concentrated in Okinawa. In addition to further accelerating the alleviation of the impact of bases I consider that it is of the utmost importance to continue to work towards the relocation to Henoko, while providing thorough explanations to the people of Okinawa.


REPORTER: I have a question about the Northern Territories issue. In his press conference earlier the Prime Minister stressed that the new Cabinet is a results-oriented “Cabinet of doers,” so could you tell us once again about the Government's position on how the new Cabinet will work to conclude a peace treaty with Russia with a view to realizing the return of the Four Northern Islands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Last year during President Putin's visit to Japan, a summit meeting was held between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin. On the basis of that summit meeting I believe that progress is being made on issues between Japan and Russia. Keeping Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seko in his position was also another aspect to the Prime Minister's strong desire to resolve this issue. The summit meeting in December last year set out a direction for Japan-Russia relations, including the territorial issue, joint economic activities on the Four Northern Islands and the facilitation of visits to the islands by former residents and others. Japan is seeking to clarify the attribution of the four islands and conclude a peace treaty. It is important to continue to engage firmly in negotiations in accordance with that basic policy.

REPORTER: Now that you have been appointed Minister in charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa, could you tell us in what visible ways you intend to alleviate the burden, other than relocating Osprey training exercises to other bases?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There were many aspects of the agreement of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) that had been promised, but not realized. As I have just mentioned, during the Abe administration, the majority of the Northern Training Area has been returned, which represents the largest return of land since the reversion of Okinawa. We will continue to achieve such results one by one, not in words, but in visible ways.

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