The Daily Manila Shimbun


Abe not mulling replacing new Okinawa minister over gaffes

August 9, 2017

NAGASAKI- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday indicated that he does not plan to replace Tetsuma Esaki as cabinet minister over gaffes that Esaki made just after he took office last week.

"I want him to continue to perform his duties, with even greater concentration," Abe told a press conference in the southwestern city of Nagasaki, rejecting opposition calls for dismissing the minister in charge of issues related to Okinawa Prefecture and the Northern Territories.

"He's working proactively as the minister," Abe said, referring to Esaki's visit to Okinawa from Tuesday for talks with Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and others.

Esaki came under fire for reportedly saying that he would focus on reading out answers prepared by bureaucrats in parliament. The new minister has also said he is an "amateur" on the issue of the Northern Territories, four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands claimed by Japan.

Esaki also called on Tuesday for a review of the Japan-US status-of-forces agreement.

"A little more review" of the pact is necessary, Esaki said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting that followed the crash of an Okinawa-based US Marine MV-22 Osprey aircraft off the east coast of Australia on Saturday.Jiji Press