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Statement by the Japanese Press Secretary

10th September, 1996

V. Interim Report of the Special Action Committee on Facilities and Areas in Okinawa (SACO)

I. Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama on the Plebiscite in Okinawa Prefecture on 9 September 1996

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hiroshi Hashimoto: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this Ministry of Foreign Affairs regular press conference. We distributed copies of the provisional translation of the statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama on the plebiscite in Okinawa Prefecture, which the Chief Cabinet Secretary made orally yesterday.

That is the announcement that I wanted to make, and I will be delighted to respond to any questions that you might have.

V. Interim Report of the Special Action Committee on Facilities and Areas in Okinawa (SACO)

Q: On the issue of the Okinawa Referendum, is there any suggestion that the Japanese Government will seek a further reduction in the U.S. presence in Okinawa beyond what was agreed with the Americans in April?

A: In April, the Interim Report was publicized. We are now doing our best to finalize the Report by the end of November. We have to implement what the Interim Report of the Special Action Committee on Facilities and Areas in Okinawa (SACO) in April said about the reduction of forces.

Q: But, you don't anticipate that the Japanese Government will seek further reductions beyond what was spelled out?

A: I cannot say whether it is virtually impossible or not to add more to the Interim Report. But, in any case, it is, for us, very important to implement what the two governments have decided to do. Therefore, we are now concentrating on the implementation of the SACO Interim Report. But, a final report will be publicized by the end of November. So, would you please be patient. Still, we cannot tell whether we can add something more to the Interim Report.

Q: How serious is the disagreement over finding a new location for the helicopter base out at Futenma?

A: Futenma Marine Corps Station is the crucially important issue for us. The Japanese side asked the United States side to give us their technical assessment of possible relocation plans for the Futenma base -- what sort of technical requirements should be met, and so on. After we receive the report from the United States side, we will we begin to know whether it can be relocated to a particular place or not. So, for the time being, there is much speculation about this, but we are simply waiting until the United States side gives us their technical report.

Q: Do you regard the referendum result as reflecting any broad concerns in the Japanese community about the Japan- U.S. Security Alliance?

A: I believe the documents already said what Chief Cabinet Secretary Kajiyama said about this. Already, the Government of Japan knows the sensitivities or the requirements of the Okinawan people on this issue. Therefore, together with the United States Government, we issued the Interim Report, and in line with the Interim Report, we continue to do our best to make a final report, so that the Okinawan people can accept the final offer from the two governments. Today, Governor Masahide Ota of Okinawa Prefecture will meet Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, and we sincerely hope that this meeting will be able to produce a meeting of the minds between the Central Government and Okinawa Prefecture, but we will have to wait and see what the results of the meeting will be.

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