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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 8, 2020 (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]

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. President Bach of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held a press conference after the Executive Board meeting on October 7. With regard to the Tokyo Games, he praised the 52 measures proposed by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to simplify the Games, and stated that the IOC is working on the basis that there will be international spectators. He also expressed the view that there will be the parade of nations during the opening ceremony similar to previous Games. Could you share with us the Government’s view on these comments and, once again, tell us the vision of the Games that you aspire for.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The Government is aware from media reports that an IOC Executive Board meeting was held on October 7 and that President Bach made statements at the subsequent press conference in line with the points you just mentioned. Since September, meetings have been held among the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), and the Organising Committee to discuss novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) countermeasures for the Tokyo Games with a view to reaching an interim arrangement by the end of the year. The Government will continue to prepare for the Games, collaborating closely with the IOC, the Organising Committee, TMG, and other stakeholders in order to realize a safe and secure environment for athletes and spectators alike.
REPORTER: I have a question regarding Typhoon No. 14 (Chan-hom). This morning, an information liaison office was established at the Crisis Management Center at the Prime Minister’s Office. Could you please share with us the current situation, including any damage as well as the preparations and measures taken by the Government?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: First and foremost, Typhoon No. 14 is currently moving north-northwest over the sea east of Amami with a stationary front over the sea south of Japan. There is a possibility that the typhoon will continue to strengthen and may make landfall, approaching western Japan from October 9 to 10 and eastern Japan from October 10 to 11. Due to the effects of the typhoon and weather front, there may be downpours and heavy rains in western and eastern Japan from October 9. Today, the Government convened an Inter-Agency Disaster Alert Meeting attended by Minister of State for Disaster Management OKONOGI Hachiro and established an information liaison office at the Crisis Management Center at the Prime Minister’s Office. The Government is working as one and building vigilance, while collaborating closely with local governments. We have encouraged municipalities to issue evacuation information early and raise awareness among the people, including calling on them to secure places for evacuation when the typhoon approaches. We ask people to pay close attention to the latest weather information announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
REPORTER: […] I have a question regarding yesterday’s meetings of the Mayor of Ginowan City with the Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, respectively. Yesterday, Mr. MATSUGAWA Masanori, Mayor of Ginowan City, held meetings with the Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, respectively. It has been reported that the Mayor made requests concerning the early return of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma and the issue related to fire-fighting foam placed at the air station. Could you tell us what requests were made specifically and how the Government intends to respond to these requests? It has also been reported that the Prime Minister has suddenly responded to the Mayor’s appointment request; what was the reason for that and could you tells us what the Prime Minister stated at the meeting?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Firstly, Mayor Matsugawa of Ginowan City visited my office. He offered his congratulations on my appointment as Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister in charge of Mitigating the Impact of U.S. Forces in Okinawa, followed by his requests, including the early return of MCAS Futenma. I explained the Government’s position to achieve the total return of MCAS Futenma as early as possible by making steady progress on the relocation to Henoko, and to steadily advance measures to promote the development of Okinawa, which includes the utilization of former sites (of the USFJ) that have been returned. I understand that the meeting with the Prime Minister was for the Mayor to offer his greetings following the Prime Minister’s appointment. I do not know anything beyond that.
REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Government’s measures for the airline industry in response to the spread of COVID-19 infections. It has been reported that All Nippon Airways proposed to its labor union to lower the basic salary of employees and not pay lump-sum payment in winter. As the demand for air travel is declining, how does the Government see the business environment of the airline industry and is it considering any additional support measures?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: We recognize that all airlines have been experiencing a significant year-on-year decrease in both the number of flights and passengers, and are facing a severe business environment under such circumstances. In response to this situation, the Government has implemented a series of support measures, such as assistance to the financing of each airline, which includes moratorium of landing fee payments, the crisis response loans of the Development Bank of Japan, and disbursement of Employment Adjustment Subsidies. The Government is also currently implementing the Go to Travel Campaign and working on recovering the domestic tourism demand, while thoroughly preventing the spread of infections. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will take the lead in appropriately responding to the situations, while taking into account the business environment thoroughly and listening to the voices of these airlines.
REPORTER: […] I have a question regarding the border measures of the Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections. It has been reported that the Government is arranging to exempt business travelers and returnees from the 14-day quarantine measure imposed upon entry into Japan if they meet certain conditions. Please tell us the current status of the Government’s considerations.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: We recognize that resuming cross-border travel is essential for revitalizing the economy. At the same time, we need to fully prevent the spread of infection. It is important to consider resuming cross-border travel in a way that prevents the spread of infection. Up to now, we have been engaged in discussions and coordination with relevant countries and regions bilaterally toward allowing the movement of people, such as those necessary for businesses, on an exceptional basis. In addition, we have taken measures including incrementally permitting holders of statuses of residence, mainly long-term residents, to newly enter Japan from countries and regions around the world beginning on October 1, subject to certain conditions such as the 14-day quarantine. The Government as a whole will continue to consider concrete methods for resuming cross-border travel in a way that prevents the spread of infection.
REPORTER: Yesterday, Mayor YAITA Shunsuke of Nishinoomote City of Kagoshima Prefecture expressed his opposition to the Government’s plan to relocate the training for U.S. Forces’ carrier-based aircraft to Mageshima Island. While this is the first time that Mayor Yaita has expressed opposition, the Government has already purchased most of the island and intends to initiate procedures for an environmental impact assessment as early as this autumn, noting that the relocation is essential for Japan-U.S. security arrangements. Please share with us how the Government sees his opposition and the possible impact to the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, as well as how the Government intends to persuade local communities on this issue.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Firstly, we are aware of the fact that the Mayor made such a comment. The Government is advancing its preparations to build a Self-Defense Force (SDF) facility on Mageshima Island, which is to serve as the operating base to defend the southwestern part of Japan and respond to large-scale disasters. This facility is also a candidate for the field carrier landing practice (FCLP), landing drills for carrier-based aircraft, essential for U.S. aircraft carriers to operate constantly in the Asia-Pacific. The Government will strive to build this facility as early as possible. We understand that briefing sessions for local residents and other occasions are scheduled. The understanding and cooperation of the local community is critical for building an SDF facility. The Government will continue to provide careful explanations while listening to the voices of the community members.
REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to the Senkaku Islands. China Coast Guard vessels have repeatedly approached Japanese fishing vessels in Japan’s territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands. Some pointed out the possibility that the fishing information of Japanese fishing vessels is being leaked to China. Could you tell us the facts as the Government is aware of them? If it is true that such information is being leaked, what measures is the Government considering?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The Government is aware of the media reports and has been following developments related to Chinese government vessels. However, we would like to refrain from making comments on each development and disclosing our assessment of them. As I have stated before, the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law, and are under the valid control of Japan. Under the Government’s policy of protecting the lives and properties of Japanese nationals and territorial land, waters, and airspace, the relevant ministries and agencies will continue to work together with a sense of vigilance, striving to collect information and exerting every effort to patrol and monitor the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands.

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