Speeches and Statements by Prime Minister Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet top page

Press Conference by Prime Minister Naoto Kan

17 September 2010
[Provisional Translation]

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: We will now begin the press conference by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. We will begin with an opening statement from the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, please.

Opening Statement by Prime Minister Naoto Kan

To mark the start of my new Cabinet, I have decided to hold this press conference in order to share my thinking on matters including the direction this Kan Cabinet will take from now on with the people of Japan.

Just about one year ago, the first administration of [Prime Minister Yukio] Hatoyama was born through a change of government. Now today, one year later, my reshuffled Cabinet is getting its start. After giving thought to this past year and to the future, I feel that this has been a year of repeated trial and error in many senses, and of trial-and-error Cabinets. And from now on, I intend to build on that trial and error to put individual, specific matters into practice, with the aim of making this Cabinet one that the people will call true to its word. I feel that I would like to make this true-to-its-word Cabinet a reality.

In this process, what must be done first of all, more than anything else, is to address economic issues - the health of the economy, employment, growth and additionally the budget - without allowing ourselves to relax our efforts the slightest bit on the economy. We must not slacken for even an instant.

As you are aware, we have responded to the appreciation of the yen by carrying out the first intervention in currency markets in six-and-a-half years, and at the present time this has been effective to a certain extent. We will press forward steadily with this and other monetary policies, and going further, fiscal policies. In a moment I will speak on this in a bit more detail.

Secondly, with respect to Japan's activities in the international community, I would like to position them solidly [within our policy approach]. I recently attended the [G20] Summit in Toronto, Canada, and I have taken part in various international conferences and met with leaders of other nations. At the end of this month I will travel to the United Nations General Assembly, at which time I am planning to meet with [U.S.] President [Barack] Obama as well.

When we met previously for the first time, our focus was more on deepening our communication and building a relationship of trust. From now on my intention is for us to go a step further, making statements at the national level or in international forums with respect to such matters as how Japan will play its role in the world and how our two nations will deepen their relationship with one another and then putting those statements into practice through our actions.

Another point of focus will be to bring about change in regional sovereignty and the domestic form of our nation. I will not speak at length on this topic, but we will change from the ground up the form of our nation, with vertically divided government and centralization of authority - the centralization of authority we see today, with Kasumigaseki as the center. These are the three main issues on which my administration will focus.

The reshuffling of my Cabinet has brought some new members to it and has changed the duties of some of its members. On the economic front, I have brought Mr. Banri Kaieda on board to serve as Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy. He is a politician I have known personally for some time; he has written a number of books on the economy and tax systems, setting forth a range of his views on such matters. I feel that in him I have secured the services of a person who can serve as a major - how shall I put it? - commanding officer on economic issues.

In the area of diplomacy, Minister for Foreign Affairs [Katsuya] Okada has worked extremely hard. He himself desired strongly to continue in that position, and many around him hoped to see the same, but I expressed my own strong wish that he move from his work in the Cabinet, in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, to the position of Secretary General [of the Democratic Party of Japan], where he can serve as the so-called face of the party, a powerful engine moving it forward. After this, I asked Mr. [Seiji] Maehara to become Foreign Minister. In this sense, with Foreign Minister Maehara, and with Minister of Defense [Toshimi] Kitazawa assuming his post once again, I would like to ensure this strong presence we now have in the area of diplomacy and make it even more solid within the party and the Cabinet.

With respect to regional sovereignty issues, Mr. Yoshihiro Katayama will join the Cabinet as Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications. I believe many people are already aware of his resume. As governor of Tottori Prefecture, he achieved great progress in prefectural reforms, while also making a variety of practicable proposals on the ideal form of the nation and its regions. He has already been serving our DPJ administrations in the capacity of an important advisor, and now he has moved up from this advisory role to play a key part on the team actually implementing policy. I feel that with Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Banri Kaieda, Foreign Minister [Seiji] Maehara and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister [Yoshihiro] Katayama in their new positions, we have a framework in place that can firmly tackle the three major tasks before us.

In addition to this, I intend to take a serious approach to building the relationship between the party and the Cabinet, forming what I am coining a Cabinet of 412 - in other words, working earnestly to create a Cabinet encompassing all 412 DPJ members of the House of Representatives and House of Councillors. At the core of this will be Mr. [Koichiro] Gemba, who is joining the Cabinet as Minister of State for National Policy in addition to serving as the chair of the [DPJ] Policy Research Committee.

This is a position that one year ago I was slated to fill, serving as both Policy Research Committee chair and minister in charge of the National Policy Unit. Just before this took place, though, the Policy Research Committee was abolished, and I was unable to serve in these posts concurrently. Today, in one sense we have realized the plan from a year ago, with Mr. Gemba chairing the Policy Research Committee at the same time that he sits in the Cabinet as National Policy Minister. With these twin positions, we can say that the party and cabinet are no longer separate entities. In a parliamentary cabinet system the political party with the most seats forms a cabinet with its leader at the apex. This is the truest sense of a "ruling party": the Cabinet itself is formed by the majority party. In this most fundamental sense, too, I feel we have entered the stage of bringing our Cabinet of 412 into concrete form.

Furthermore, within this Cabinet of 412 we must create an environment in which we can nurture the young members who will lead our party in the future - that is to say, to foster the younger generation. For this new Cabinet I have asked Mr. [Sumio] Mabuchi to fill the post of Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism formerly held by Mr. Maehara. He has carried out considerable research into road issues, and while we were in the opposition, he pressed the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister from the Liberal Democratic Party to admit to some errors - that is to say, to admit that investigations had actually been undertaken despite claims that they had not. Based on materials held by the government, he proved that doing away with tolls on the nation's expressways would be an extraordinarily effective step to take. In this way he has dealt with the issues to date.

As you will recall, Mr. [Akira] Nagatsuma, who served until today as Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, also dealt with pension issues through his thorough investigations while we were in the opposition.

In sum, the style of our party, so to speak, is for even its members who have served few terms in the Diet to carry out solid investigations, based on which they uncover problems and present them to the nation's people, leading to reforms. I apologize for bringing up my own example as well, but when I once served as Health and Welfare Minister, I took a similar approach - although in this case as a government minister - to the problem of HIV-tainted blood transfusion products. Tapping Mr. Mabuchi as Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister should provide great incentive to our younger members, letting them know that this sort of action is what changes politics in Japan, and the people who use their abilities toward such ends will have the opportunity in our party to do even greater work as part of the Cabinet. I hope that these younger members, and the people of Japan, will view these choices in this light.

I was planning on speaking a bit more on economic and other issues, but rather than my saying these things, I believe it may be better to speak in response to your questions. I will end my opening statement here. Let me stress once more that I hope from this day forth you will refer to my cabinet as a true-to-its-word Cabinet.


CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: We will now move on to the questions. I will indicate who will ask the questions. Before asking your question, please state your media affiliation and name.

Please raise your hand if you have a question. First, Mr. Nishiyama.

REPORTER: Thank you. I'm Nishiyama of the Asahi Shimbun. My question concerns the new lineup of party executives and Cabinet ministers. As a result of this reshuffle, it looks as though no Diet members from Mr. Ichiro Ozawa's group are represented in either the party executive or the new Cabinet. Mr. Ozawa reportedly turned down your invitation to accept the role of Acting President; do you think the new lineup can be fairly described as one likely to achieve the kind of strong party unity you have called for? Some people in the party are wondering whether this reshuffle was intended to remove or exclude Mr. Ozawa's group from positions of influence. Could you give me your views on this, please?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: As I said repeatedly in the run-up to the party leadership election, strong party unity involves putting the right people in the right positions, and building a system in which everyone can put his or her talents and experience to the best use. In that sense, there are still a large number of roles to be appointed, including senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries. Basically, I'd like people to wait until they have seen the whole picture before reaching a conclusion.

Particularly as far as the Cabinet was concerned, the issue of excluding or not excluding members of any given group was not a consideration in the least, and objectively speaking, I do not think that was the case.

In the leadership election, Mr. Ozawa and I were in competition against each other. Of course, voting was by secret ballot, and it is impossible to know for sure who voted for which side. But I am sure that you in the press have done your own research, and from that perspective, as far as I can see, I think there is a pretty good ratio, you know, of both people who may have voted for me and people who may have voted for Mr. Ozawa. The result is what you see; I certainly didn't decide not to include anyone for reasons such as those you suggest.

As regards party affairs, I did indeed invite Mr. Ozawa and Mr. [Azuma] Koshiishi yesterday to accept the position of Acting President. Mr. Koshiishi said he wished to devote his energies to his position as leader of the DPJ's House of Councillors caucus, and assured me of his firm support in that capacity.

Mr. Ozawa told me that he had for some time led from the front during the recent election and on other occasions, and that because of the considerable physical strain he has been under, he preferred to be excused from the position. However, he assured me of his firm support.

You will therefore see that I had no intention of excluding any particular group in making appointments to the party executive, and I certainly took no action in that direction.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: All right, we'll take the next question now. In the next seat, Mr. Yamazaki.

REPORTER: I'm Yamazaki, of TV Asahi. A new Cabinet and a new party executive are now in place. Under this new lineup, what measures will you be taking in terms of managing affairs in the divided Diet?

For example, are you looking at forging opportunities for joint talks with opposition parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on drawing up a supplementary budget and the main budget in the upcoming extraordinary session of the Diet? How do you intend to proceed?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: As I said earlier, the economy is an issue that we must address, as indeed we are already doing at present. As you may know, I have divided the issues to be addressed into three steps.

Step 1 is already underway, and involves economic measures drawing on a reserve budget of 920 billion yen. Work has already begun on this step, following a decision reached on 10 September.

In Step 2, we will consider taking measures including the supplementary budget.

Step 3 will involve consideration of the economic measures, employment measures and growth strategies to be included in the budget for next fiscal year.

Your question touched on the supplementary budget. I have already received proposals on economic stimulus measures from opposition parties, including the LDP and New Komeito. Because of the party leadership and Cabinet reshuffle over the past two days, I haven't yet had an opportunity to visit my colleagues from those parties personally. But several members of the party executive have already begun to make their visits. First of all, my Cabinet shares the opposition's belief in the need for measures to boost the economy in some shape or form, perhaps including the proposals I have received from the opposition parties, so I think that some form of discussions should be possible.

In this connection, I have received proposals of a general nature on a supplementary budget, regarding the scale and content we should be looking at, for example, and I believe that if talks can produce a path for us to follow - particularly one directly connected to people's lives, and still more so if the content of the proposals relates to economic measures and the supplementary budget - then I think there is certainly a good chance that we will be able to reach an agreement in discussions with the opposition. In any case, these talks are something we are ready to make a start upon right away, from today or tomorrow.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: All right, the next question please. Ms. Takahara.

REPORTER: Takahara, Japan Times. My question is about Japan's relations with China.

The Chinese have been toughening their stance in the clash over the Senkaku Islands, and there has been an upsurge of anti-Japanese feeling among people in China itself. What measures do you intend to take to bring about a breakthrough in the situation, and to improve relations?

Also, Minister for Foreign Affairs [Seiji] Maehara has seemed to take a somewhat tough position on China in the past. Do you believe that relations with China can proceed smoothly with Mr. Maehara?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: In terms of relations between China and Japan, we have experienced a number of issues that have arisen over the course of our history. Fundamentally, however, the basic direction of our relations is moving toward a deepening of our reciprocal strategic relationship. This basic direction was confirmed at my meeting with President Hu Jintao at the summit in Canada, and if anything I think the awareness of this on both sides is growing stronger. Basically speaking, I believe that relations between China and Japan continue to be amicable, so to speak, and will continue to be so into the future.

With respect to individual issues, the various people responsible are working toward resolutions, and personally I would prefer to speak only of the basic position, which is as I have described it.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: All right, we'll take the next question now. From the lady at the front, please.

REPORTER: I'm Igarashi, with the Yomiuri Shimbun. I'd like to ask a further question about the supplementary budget. In terms of a timeframe for submitting the supplementary budget, are you looking at the upcoming session of the Diet?

Also, the LDP and New Komeito seem to be thinking of a large-scale budget, on the order of 4 or 5 trillion yen. What scale of budget do you have in mind?

Furthermore, in addition to economic measures, as Prime Minister you have emphasized the need to rebuild healthy public finances. What timing do you have in mind for starting the multi-party talks on the consumption tax that you previously called for?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: The supplementary budget constitutes the second step of the ongoing three-step process I referred to earlier. In line with that plan, I believe we need to consider compiling and submitting a supplementary budget at some stage.

In terms of the timeframe for submission, in a sense this relates to what I was talking about earlier. It's a kind of chicken-and-egg situation. If we submit a supplementary budget and the opposition parties object strongly to our plans, then even if the budget passes the House of Representatives, the debate might take 30 days in the House of Councillors. If that happens, the process could end up taking quite a while from October, for instance. If, on the other hand, we manage to reach an agreement on a certain direction in our talks with the opposition, and are able to draw up a budget that incorporates some of the wishes of the opposition parties, then I think debate in the Diet should go smoothly.

Given this, I think before deciding unilaterally on a timeframe, since I have already received proposals from the opposition parties, I would like to proceed with talks, or exchanges of opinion, and to consider the timeframe for submitting a supplementary budget in the course of those talks.

Your question also touched on the issue of the consumption tax. As you are aware, social security costs are growing at a rate of 1 trillion yen every year, simply from natural growth, and substantial fiscal resources are necessary just to support the system at its current level. As I have often said, this raises an important question. Do we aim for a society that prioritizes security for all, even if it means shouldering a degree of burden? Or do we try to reduce that burden as much as possible, and move down a path that says everything above that minimum level is the personal responsibility of the individual? This is a decision of extreme importance that the nation needs to make together. For this reason, I want to discuss questions of social security and public finances in a unified manner. Within the party, I believe we need to build a forum for discussing these issues centered on the policy research committee. If possible, I would be interested in discussing with the other parties the possibility of making this a cross-party venue.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: Now we would like to take any questions there might be from the foreign press. The gentleman sitting over there.

REPORTER: Foster with the Associated Press. I have a question concerning your planned visit to the United States next week. What will be the key topic of discussion with President Obama? And how precisely do you intend to advance the talks regarding the issue of [relocating Marine Corps Air Station] Futenma?

Also, do you intend to invite President Obama to visit the city of Hiroshima during his trip to Japan this November? And have you yourself given any thought to the possibility of visiting Pearl Harbor?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: During my planned trip to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly session I am also scheduled to meet with President Obama, and from now until my departure for the United States I intend to fully consider what topics we might discuss. Certainly, judging from developments up to now, Japan-U.S. relations will be broadly discussed. Fifty years have passed since the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and there are questions regarding the future role of Japan-U.S. relations as well as how those bilateral relations and the Japan-U.S. alliance should be positioned in the world and within Asia in particular. I hope that my discussion with President Obama will help clarify the future outlook regarding those sorts of issues and that some sort of shared understanding between our two countries will emerge.

Rather than discussing specific issues such as the Futenma relocation, my hope is that President Obama and I will engage in this sort of broad dialogue that can help bring the future outlook into focus.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: Next, the person in the center of the back section, please.

REPORTER: I'm Matsuura with Kyodo News. You suffered a major setback in the July House of Councillors election. It is hard to recall any other prime minister remaining in office after such a poor showing in a national election. You have been re-elected as president of the Democratic Party of Japan, but there is a principled view that you should dissolve the Diet and call a general election to build confidence in your government. What are your thoughts on this view?

If you do decide to not call a general election for now, can it be said that your government has democratic legitimacy?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: The House of Councillors election was indeed a major setback for our party in the sense that we lost a considerable number of seats. I recognized this at the time and continue to view it as a setback. As for the response of the government to that election setback, my own thoughts are as follows. When we consider the tremendous expectations that the Japanese people had for the change of government last September, as well as the powerful public backing that made that change possible, we in the DPJ want to do those things that we were told to achieve through the change in government. Granted, we suffered a big setback in the July election, but if we hope to meet the expectations of last September, the best way to do it, in my view, is for us to continue our governmental efforts. And so I decided to remain in office and seek re-election as the leader of the DPJ.

With regard to this decision, my impression has also been, from a variety of opinions expressed on different occasions by many different people, that there is a desire for the DPJ that took power last September and for my own government resolutely to continue carrying out its agenda. One reason for this view, of course, is that administrations up to now, including LDP-led administrations, have been created and dissolved too frequently.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: Next question please. The person wearing glasses with his hand raised, over there on the far side.

REPORTER: I'm Ando of the Hokkaido Shimbun. My question concerns the regional sovereignty reforms. You have appointed the former governor of Tottori Prefecture, Yoshihiro Katayama, as the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications. You spoke a moment ago about the choice of your Cabinet members, but could you please elaborate?

Also, given the fact that Mr. Katayama expressed a critical view of the three bills submitted by the DPJ regarding the regional sovereignty reforms, how do you intend to adopt a coherent stance on this issue in future Diet proceedings?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: I am familiar with the ideas of Mr. Katayama from the conversations we have had on numerous occasions and from what he has written, and I think that he is a person who is very energetic when it comes to advancing the efforts aimed at achieving regional sovereignty and decentralization in the truly fundamental sense. My reason for including Mr. Katayama in my Cabinet was not based on this or that individual policy, but rather on a desire to draw on the passion of his fundamental outlook and to use the energy and strength of his ideas in order to make progress toward regional sovereignty.

There will always be different standpoints regarding individual bills and of course no policy will ever be absolutely perfect, but when it comes to becoming a member of this Cabinet the starting point is whether the person fundamentally agrees with the policies of the previous Cabinet. It is fine to have all sorts of discussions subsequently, but it takes place on the basis of that sort of fundamental agreement.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: The next question, then. The person wearing black sitting in the middle, please.

REPORTER: I'm Nanao of Nico Nico Douga. I would like to ask a question on behalf of a viewer.

The question concerns the start of the reshuffled Cabinet. This press conference is taking place in a format that is open, and it is as transparent as could be hoped for. Prime Minister Kan, as the nation's leader, have you considered introducing this same open-style format for the press conferences of each government ministry and agency as part of the basic policy of your administration?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: My own orientation and that of the DPJ is to use a variety of ways to make politics as open as possible.

Various factors need to be considered with regard to specific ideas and the extent of measures, as well as what is possible, but I can say that we feel it would be best for things to be as open as possible.


REPORTER: I'm Matsuyama of the Fuji Television Network. In the new Cabinet, [Satoshi] Arai will be replaced as Minister of State for National Policy by [Koichiro] Gemba, who will concurrently chair the Policy Research Committee. A moment ago you spoke of the need for the National Policy Unit to return to its fundamentals, but I think that the original concept was based on the ambitious idea of working out the broad outlines of policies from the medium- to long-scale perspective, such as in drafting a budget. Gradually, however, that has changed into an advisory role.

Now that Mr. Gemba has been put in charge of the National Policy Unit, what additions do you think will be made to the nature of the organization?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: The comment I made a moment ago refers to my own thinking, as well as thinking reached through consultations with others up until a certain point, at the time that the Cabinet got underway just after last year's change of government. Two days prior to the formation of the [Hatoyama] Cabinet, the premise of our discussions had been that the chair of the Policy Research Committee would also be the Minister of State for National Policy, but that did not end up happening because just prior to the formation of the Cabinet the decision was made to dissolve the Policy Research Committee.

This is the sense in which I said that my decision to ask Mr. Gemba, the chair of the Policy Research Committee, to be the Minister of State for National Policy is a return to the initial concept held last September.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: The person sitting there in the back.

REPORTER: Higo with the Sankei Shimbun. My question concerns why Mr. Ozawa refused the offer to be Acting President of the DPJ.

Prime Minister, why did you propose this post to him in the first place? And does Mr. Ozawa's refusal dampen hopes for unity in the DPJ?

Also, do you intend to offer a different post to Mr. Ozawa?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: The post of Acting President within our party has had - what shall I say? - a different character depending on the particular period.

In fact, I was the President of the DPJ at the time of its 2003 merger with the Liberal Party, but following that merger Mr. Ozawa, who had been the leader of the Liberal Party, became the Acting President of the DPJ. In point of fact he did not attend many meetings, but he did hold the position at the time.

Or, more recently, a few years ago when Mr. Ozawa and I were both running in an earlier DPJ leadership election, after he became President he asked me to undertake the position of Acting President, and I did in fact assume that post. In that position I think that I was able to address a variety of issues, and in that sense, generally speaking, the office of Acting President is a very functional role. This is the perspective from which I asked Mr. Ozawa to be Acting President, thinking that the functional nature of the job made it well suited to him.

Unfortunately, however, as mentioned earlier, Mr. Ozawa had to turn down the position due to his physical exhaustion arising from many causes. So for the time being, we face this regrettable situation.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: Now, the next question please. The woman reporter, wearing stripes.

REPORTER: My name is Onuki from Shukan Asahi. I'd like to ask you about your choice of Mr. Okada as Secretary General. I understand that he was very keen on staying on as Minister for Foreign Affairs. What specific roles are you hoping Mr. Okada will play as Secretary General?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: I regard the ruling party's Secretary General, along with the party President and Prime Minister - who happens to be me at the moment - as being what, in colloquial terms, might be described as the two "front men." While I will appeal to the public on the directions the Cabinet is trying to take, the Secretary General can adopt a broader, freer approach on what the party hopes to achieve, including a focus on how we should take our message to the public at election time.

In that sense, the post of Secretary General must serve as a publicly visible symbol of where the party is headed. This is a rather crucial role, since the public will look at the Secretary General and form their judgments on whether they can trust and harbor expectations of the party. In looking around for a person who can fulfill such a role, I couldn't find anyone more suitable than Mr. Okada. I was fully aware that the work of a Foreign Minister is a crucial one, and I continue to believe so now, but at this point in time, there is no one more suited to shouldering the responsibilities of the post than Mr. Okada. That's the reason I asked him to become Secretary General, and ultimately he agreed.

I've seen his press conference on TV or some other medium, and I believe he used the word tenmei [heaven's will] to describe the situation he faced. I think this shows an understanding of why the post was offered to him, that he must put aside his personal desires to stay on as Foreign Minister and accept his new role as the one that destiny has readied for him.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: The next question please. The man wearing glasses, please.

REPORTER: I'm Tanaka of the Mainichi Shimbun. You mentioned a little while ago that in drafting a supplementary budget you'd be willing to incorporate the demands of the opposition parties. To what extent are you ready to incorporate such demands? Will you consult very closely with the opposition, as was the case during the so-called Financial Diet [in 1998], when the Financial Reconstruction Law was enacted? Or will you simply look over the list of submitted demands and make adjustments accordingly? How far do you envision going here?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: I'm sure you'll understand, but the course such a process takes is not something that can be spelled out or proposed in very concrete terms in advance. I'm not sure how things will begin, but one option would be for the respective Policy Research Committee chairs to hold an initial meeting. At any rate, we'd like an opportunity to hear an explanation of the proposals being advanced and also to describe of our own thinking. We can make progress from there. At this stage, we shouldn't be too preoccupied with how the process will unfold or offer a prescriptive formula on the way to get things done. In fact, we don't have fixed ideas on ways to proceed, and I think the shape of our cooperation will emerge as we go along.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: I'll take one more question from the foreign media. The man in glasses and wearing a white shirt, please go ahead.

REPORTER: I'm Ito from AFP, and I'd like to ask about currency intervention. Opposition has been voiced in Europe and the United States to Japan's unilateral intervention in the foreign exchange market. Will this affect Japan's measures to counter the yen's appreciation?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: I'm afraid the question was a bit too brief. Are you asking whether such opposition will have an impact on our policy?

REPORTER: In the light of such opposition, will you temper your efforts to curb the rise of the yen or to intervene from now on, or will you continue with your independent stance?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: Of course, I'm well aware of the fact that people have many different opinions. At the same time, we chose to intervene the other day because we believed that rapid fluctuations in the exchange rate are not desirable. Our basic stance that we will take resolute action in response to such undesirable fluctuations remains unchanged.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: All right, I'll move on to the next question. The person sitting over on this side, wearing the pink necktie.

REPORTER: I'm Yamaguchi of NHK. Prime Minister, you have spoken of wanting to have Mr. [Banri] Kaieda play a key coordinating role for economic matters. But given his support for Mr. Ozawa in the [DPJ] presidential election, aren't you concerned that his views might cause some friction within your Cabinet?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: Naturally there are varying shades of opinion within our party concerning the economy. And there have been a variety of discussions within the DPJ, such as those taking place among the members of a group set up to study ways of overcoming deflation to revive the economy. These different shades of opinions can in fact be seen as the sign of a healthy political party. When it comes time to reach a conclusion, as the governing party or Cabinet, these opinions need to be channelled, in some form or another, into a single direction. Through this process of holding a variety of discussions, which of course are not limited to those involving Mr. Kaieda, there comes a time to solidify our policies as a government, and it is here that I take the final responsibility for the decisions made.

However, there are still more things that I would like to discuss together with Mr. Kaieda. When we listen to opinions from experts, if there are 10 of them we are likely to be given 10 different recommendations, so the question before us is always how to judge among them. This very task will be an important part of Mr. Kaieda's job as Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister, and there are high hopes within our party that he will be able to display his talents in this position.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: For the next question, the woman sitting over there. We're short on time, so please keep the questions as short as possible.

REPORTER: Tokyo Broadcasting System [TBS], Hanaoka. My question concerns your appointments within the DPJ. Mr. [Yukio] Edano, the former Secretary General, has been appointed the Deputy Secretary General. What was your reason for keeping Mr. Edano in the party leadership but demoting him to Deputy Secretary General? And what role do you hope for him to play in his new position?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: After deciding to appoint Mr. [Katsuya] Okada to the position of Secretary General, the question became who would be best to support him. The discussion included who Mr. Okada thought would be best suited to that position, and the outcome was our decision to request that Mr. Edano assume that role.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: All right, our time is nearly up, so I'd like to make this the last question. Yes, you, sir - the gentleman in spectacles.

REPORTER: Fujita, of the Nikkei. I have two questions for the Prime Minister. Firstly, do you envisage the prospect of any future changes in the make-up of the coalition as a result of the upcoming policy discussions on the supplementary budget you alluded to earlier? That's my first question.

Then, secondly, in the light of your earlier comments regarding the "right people in the right positions," would it be fair to conclude from the fact that the number of Cabinet ministers chosen from Mr. Ozawa's faction is in real terms zero, would it be fair to conclude from this that there were none of the "right people" in his group?

PRIME MINISTER NAOTO KAN: In the course of an exchange of opinions or a sincere dialogue on policy matters, I think there is every chance that a consensus might be reached on individual matters, and it may well be that an accumulation of such agreements might lead to a shared agenda on a broader basis.

In that sense, I'm not thinking in terms of what might be acceptable and what is absolutely out of the question. I'm more interested in moving forward with joint discussions on policy.

On the other matter, personally I really don't understand the comments that some of the newspapers have been making to the effect that "zero" Cabinet ministers have been appointed from Mr. Ozawa's group. In fact, today I approached someone who, to put it simply, acts as one of the managers of Mr. Ozawa's group, to ask what range of meaning is implied when people say that such-and-such a person is a member of the Ozawa group. This is because, in fact, some members of the new Cabinet actually recommended Mr. Ozawa [in the party election]. Normally, I'd assume that someone who recommended Mr. Ozawa counted as a member of his group.

So although I'm not asking for a hard-and-fast definition, such as in physics, I do find it hard to understand when people say that someone who personally recommended Mr. Ozawa does not count as a member of his group. So leaving aside questions of defining people as one thing or another, I certainly haven't excluded anyone from my Cabinet on the grounds that he or she may happen to belong to such-and-such a group or anything like that.

So I have asked people to join the Cabinet according to the principle of "the right people in the right positions," but in effect the number of terms a person has served was also a factor. In the case of people who have perhaps only served a year or two since they were first elected, even though they may have great potential, it's not as though this is a written examination where a high score alone can get them through: they have to be able to persuade and win over all kinds of different people. And so for that reason, unless the person in question has debated persuasively on a certain issue or, to go back to the example I gave earlier, has achieved real results by carrying out research in the Diet, then it is very difficult to know what that person's real abilities are. In this sense, when you look at the length of time served, many of the people generally spoken of as belonging to Mr. Ozawa's group are people who have served relatively few terms, but from tomorrow we will be making the overall appointments, including senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries, and I'd really like you to look at the overall picture once that process is complete. Perhaps you'll allow me to say that I don't think it's very helpful of members in the press to deliberately make such a fuss and flap about such distinctions.

CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS SECRETARY: On that note, I'd like to bring this press conference to a close. Thank you very much.