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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 7, 2020 (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]

REPORTER: The Prime Minister has just met with Governor Tamaki of Okinawa Prefecture. With respect to the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, Governor Tamaki submitted a series of requests, including the establishment of a forum for consultations with the Government and other stakeholders. Could you please share with us how the Government intends to respond?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Today, Prime Minister Suga held a meeting with Governor Tamaki of Okinawa Prefecture. I understand that, at the meeting, Governor Tamaki offered greetings on the appointment of Prime Minister Suga. With regard to a forum for consultations on MCAS Futenma, while I have no information on what they discussed specifically, frameworks are already in place between the Government and Okinawa Prefecture, such as the Council for Promoting the Alleviation of the Burden of Futenma Air Station. Through such forums for consultation, the Government seeks to listen to the views of Okinawa Prefecture and also tenaciously explain the Government’s position to achieve the total return of MCAS Futenma as early as possible, as well as various initiatives for alleviating the burden of bases in Okinawa.
REPORTER: […] Could you please once again explain the Government’s current policy on the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: With regard to the relocation to Henoko, it is the Government’s recognition that we must avoid the continued use of MCAS Futenma, which is surrounded by schools and residences and is said to be the most dangerous airfield in the world, without leaving the danger unresolved. Accordingly, there is no change in our position to steadily advance the relocation to Henoko and realize the total return of MCAS Futenma as early as possible.
REPORTER: […] I believe that Okinawa faces two issues, namely the promotion of Okinawa’s development and the alleviation of the impact of the bases. I believe those two issues have something in common. As the Chief Cabinet Secretary, how do you intend to approach them?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: For the development of Okinawa, it is necessary to prioritize, in particular, the response to various issues related to the bases, which includes the alleviation of their impacts, and the advancement of measures to promote the development of Okinawa, which includes the utilization of former base sites that have been returned, as critical policy issues, and tackle them in a holistic manner. While I am in charge of mitigating the impact of the U.S. bases as minister, I would like to tackle this issue while closely collaborating with Minister Kono, who is in charge of the development of Okinawa.
REPORTER: […] I have a question about the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that took place yesterday. In the press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is noted that the ministers shared the view to regularize the meeting and hold the next one at an appropriate timing next year. Do you think that one meeting a year is a sufficient frequency to fulfil the objectives of this meeting?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: In the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting yesterday, the four ministers shared the view to regularize the meeting and hold the next one at an appropriate timing next year. Meanwhile, I understand that it does not limit the number of meetings to just once a year. The ministers also agreed to engage in regular consultations at various levels, including the director-general level.
REPORTER: […] In a press interview, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted the necessity to institutionalize cooperation among the four countries and build a security framework in Asia. Although institutionalization was not raised as a topic in yesterday’s meeting, could you tell us the Government’s views on institutionalizing such cooperation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: While we are aware of the press reports, we do not know exactly what he meant by saying “institutionalization.” What I would reiterate is that in the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting yesterday, the ministers agreed to regularize the meeting.
REPORTER: Yesterday, former Prime Minister Abe held a telephone talk with Chancellor Merkel of Germany. This is the first time for a former Prime Minister to hold a telephone talk with a foreign leader after stepping down. It is reported that the telephone talk was held at the request of Chancellor Merkel. Have the contents of the talk been shared with the new administration? Also, I believe this telephone talk demonstrates the diplomatic stature of former Prime Minister Abe. Could you tell us if it is possible that the Government will give specific consideration to cooperation between former Prime Minister Abe and the Suga administration in the field of diplomacy?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Firstly, in the telephone talk between former Prime Minister Abe and Chancellor Merkel yesterday, I understand at least that Chancellor Merkel expressed her appreciation for the cooperative relations between Japan and Germany to date. Former Prime Minister Abe has a tremendous wealth of experience and expertise in diplomacy, gained during the course of his seven years and eight months as a world leader. First and foremost, however, the Government hopes that he will take good care of his health. The Suga administration will continue to make the most of the achievements of the Abe administration and further advance Japan’s diplomacy.

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