Press Conference by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
Monday, October 1, 2012
CABINET PUBLIC AFFAIRS SECRETARY: We will now begin the press conference by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Prime Minister, your opening statement please.
Opening Statement by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
PRIME MINISTER NODA: Over the course of the evening yesterday, Typhoon No.17 passed through Japan, and coupled with the high tide, caused damage throughout the country. I would like to express my sympathies to those who have been affected, and urge the people to continue to exercise caution and vigilance to prevent harm from landslides.
At the recent presidential election of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), I was reappointed as the President of the DPJ. Since then, I have considered carefully the new party and Cabinet structure and have decided to reshuffle the Cabinet today.
This Cabinet reshuffle is intended to further deepen the partnership between the Government and the ruling parties and to strengthen the functions of the Cabinet for addressing the mounting tasks both domestically and internationally.
I would like to announce the members of the third reshuffled Noda Cabinet.
The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Administrative Reform, the Minister for Total Reform of Social Security and Tax, the Minister for Civil Service Reform, and the Minister of State for Government Revitalization will be Mr. Katsuya Okada. He will be staying on in this position.
The Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, the Minister of State for Promotion of Local Sovereignty, and the Minister for Regional Revitalization will be Mr. Shinji Tarutoko. Mr. Tarutoko has long been channeling his efforts as a politician into local sovereignty reform, and has served in key party positions, including Chair of the Diet Affairs Committee and Acting Secretary General. I thus decided to delegate to Mr. Tarutoko the role of leading the local sovereignty reform - the top priority policy of the DPJ.
The Minister of Justice and the Minister for the Abduction Issue will be Mr. Keishu Tanaka. Mr. Tanaka has served in key positions of the Diet and DPJ as a central member of the party and has been engaged in the abduction issue for many years. I thus decided to ask him to take on this vital role of realizing a justice system which is more familiar and accessible to the people and of tackling the abduction issue with responsibility.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs will be Mr. Koichiro Gemba. He will be staying on in this position.
The Minister of Finance will be Mr. Koriki Jojima. I expect that he will fulfill the weighty responsibilities of achieving both fiscal health and economic revitalization. By leveraging his experience as the former Acting Chair of the Policy Research Committee and Deputy Secretary General of the DPJ and his experience taking control of challenging situations with the "twisted" Diet (with DPJ having a majority in the House of Representatives and opposition parties having a majority in the House of Councillors) as the Chair of the Diet Affairs Committee of the DPJ, I believe he will be able to pave open a road to achieve a breakthrough in a variety of issues, including the bill on special provisions concerning issuance of government bonds.
The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will be Ms. Makiko Tanaka. Ms. Tanaka is well-versed in the administration of education, culture, sports, science and technology, having served in such positions as the Director General of the Science and Technology Agency and the Chair of the House of Representatives' Committee on Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. I expect that she will demonstrate her articulation skills in matters of policy.
The Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare is Mr. Wakio Mitsui. He is an expert in the administration of health, labour and welfare, and he played a momentous and important role in compiling the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems. I am convinced that Mr. Mitsui will demonstrate his abilities in leading discussions at a National Council.
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is Mr. Akira Gunji. He will be staying on in this position.
The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Minister of State for the Corporation in support of Compensation for Nuclear Damage, and the Minister for Nuclear Incident Economic Countermeasures will be Mr. Yukio Edano. He will be staying on in this position.
The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will be Mr. Yuichiro Hata. He will be staying on in this position.
The Minister of the Environment, the Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accident, and the Minister of State for the Nuclear Emergency Preparedness will be Mr. Hiroyuki Nagahama. He has been supporting the foundation of the Noda Cabinet from behind the scenes as the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. I firmly believe that Mr. Nagahama shares my conviction that without the rebirth of Fukushima there can be no rebirth for Japan and accordingly move the recovery process along by closely listening to the wishes of the people of Fukushima. I would like Mr. Nagahama to demonstrate his unfailing ability to adapt and his other talents and engage in various work, including debris processing and decontamination and ensuring nuclear safety.
The Minister of Defense will be Mr. Satoshi Morimoto. He will be staying on in this position.
The Chief Cabinet Secretary will be Mr. Osamu Fujimura. He will be staying on in this position.
The Minister for Reconstruction and the Minister for Comprehensive Review of Measures in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake will be Mr. Tatsuo Hirano. He will be staying on in this position.
The Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Security will be Mr. Tadamasa Kodaira. In these times when stable and vigilant responses to crisis management are demanded, Mr. Kodaira had a long political experience and I believe he will manage even difficult issues in a calm and collected manner. I expect that Mr. Kodaira will also tackle consumer affairs and food security from the public's perspective.
The Minister of Finance, the Minister of State for the New Public Commons, the Minister of State for Measures for Declining Birthrate, and the Minister of State for Gender Equality will be Mr. Ikko Nakatsuka. I would like Mr. Nakatsuka who has worked hard in the area of financial administration as a Senior Vice Minister to continue to assume his duties as a minister. Furthermore, he will be dealing with issues that closely affect the lives of the people, including coping with the declining birthrate.
The Minister for National Policy, the Minister for Ocean Policy, the Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy, the Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, the Minister of State for the Nuclear Power Policy and Administration, and the Minister of State for Space Policy will be Mr. Seiji Maehara. I would like Mr. Maehara, who has worked tirelessly in preparing the growth strategy and has been overseeing policies as a whole as the DPJ Policy Research Committee Chair to exercise his abilities for realizing the Comprehensive Strategy for the Rebirth of Japan and achieving seamless economic measures as a "control tower" for the entire Government.
The Minister for Postal Service Privatization and the Minister of State for Disaster Management will be Mr. Mikio Shimoji of the People's New Party. Postal services reform is in the implementation phase based on the Postal Service Privatization Act. I look forward to Mr. Shimoji's ability to get work done, including strengthening the national disaster management response bearing in mind the Great East Japan Earthquake.
For Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Nagahama who will become minister will be replaced by Mr. Hirokazu Shiba from the House of Councillors. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries Saito and Taketoshi and the Director-General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau will be staying on in their positions.
These are the members of the third reshuffled Noda Cabinet. I expect that those ministers who will continue on in their positions will continue to fully carry out their duties.
From 5 pm today there will be the attestation ceremony of the Cabinet members, at which time they shall officially begin their duties. The first Cabinet meeting is scheduled for 7:15 tonight.
The way forward for the Noda Cabinet is filled with policy challenges that we must overcome. The first of these, lying directly before us, is to deal with the bill on special provisions concerning issuance of government bonds. If we continue as we are then the Government's coffers will be drained, resulting in constraints on the functions of Government, which will unavoidably have an adverse impact on the daily lives of the people of Japan. Another challenge is to carry through the comprehensive reform on social security and taxation systems, which is still unfinished. Based on the recent three-party agreement, we must finalize the issues that remain outstanding with regard to social security, through all-party discussions. It is imperative that we swiftly move to establish a National Council as a forum for discussion.
A second outstanding issue is the reform of the electoral system, including measures to correct the disparity in the relative weight of one vote and to reduce the number of Diet members. This is an issue left outstanding from the previous Diet session that must be dealt with promptly.
Furthermore, since the inauguration of the Noda Cabinet last year, our resolve has remained unchanged to expend all efforts to deal with priority challenges that are still only half-complete, namely the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, the fight against the nuclear power station accident, and the revitalization of the Japanese economy. In addition, there are also many diplomatic and security issues currently facing Japan and it is necessary to continue to address these with a sense of urgency, including in terms of crisis management.
Under the new Cabinet I want the Government and ruling parties to take further concerted action, making maximum efforts as a team to overcome the many domestic and international issues that Japan faces. Ensuring forward momentum through politics that makes decisions is the only way that we can respond to the mandate granted us by the people of Japan.
Today the transfer began of the MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft of the United States military forces from Iwakuni Air Base to Futenma Air Station. My message with regard to this issue was recently announced by the Chief Cabinet Secretary in his press conference. The Government of Japan believes that the safety of the aircraft has been duly confirmed. Furthermore, the operation of these aircraft from now will be premised naturally on safety, and also on maximum consideration being given to those people who live in the vicinity of the air station. At the same time, I keenly feel once more the necessity for all the people of Japan to recognize the burden that has been placed on the people of Okinawa throughout the post-war period.
From that perspective, I intend to make efforts to ensure that the burden is shared across the nation, starting with the relocation of Futenma Air Station at the earliest possible opportunity, and including the reduction of the burden on Okinawa, further actions to enhance the promotion and development of Okinawa, and concrete measures to relocate MV-22 Osprey training operations to the mainland. I ask for the understanding of the people of Japan and the local residents in this regard.
That concludes my opening statement. Thank you.
CABINET PUBLIC AFFAIRS SECRETARY: We will now move on to the Q&A session. When you are called on, we would appreciate it if you could first state your name and affiliation. Mr. Matsuo, please.
REPORTER: I am Matsuo of the Mainichi Shimbun.
You have noted that one of your aims in this Cabinet reshuffle was to strengthen the functions of the Cabinet. This has been a large-scale reshuffle, with 10 of the 18 Cabinet ministers being replaced, as well as persons who were previously executives of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) also entering the Cabinet. In specific terms, what are your views on what was lacking in the previous Cabinet that required a reshuffle to strengthen its functions?
Also, with regard to the appointment of Ms. Makiko Tanaka as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in particular, although you did not mention this in your opening statement, is it the case that her appointment has been made in consideration of Japan-China relations, which are currently deteriorating?
In addition, you have not included any Diet members in your new Cabinet who are close to the three people who stood against you in the election campaign for the presidency of the DPJ. There are some who are criticizing this reshuffle as being one in which loyalties have been rewarded. What do you intend to do from now to relieve tensions within the party and counter any further resignations from the party?
PRIME MINISTER NODA: With regard to your first question about what was lacking in the previous Cabinet, the answer is that nothing was lacking. The previous Cabinet worked diligently to engage in post-disaster reconstruction, the fight against the nuclear power station accident and the revitalization of the Japanese economy. In addition, the Cabinet approved the Comprehensive Strategy for the Rebirth of Japan as a means of overcoming deflation and also approved the Basic Policy for the Reconstruction and Rebirth of Fukushima. These are just some of the accomplishments of the second Noda Cabinet and it was also the members of this Cabinet that achieved the task of surmounting what was the greatest mountain of all, namely the passage of the bills relating to the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems. I believe, therefore, that rather than there having been something lacking, the Cabinet was one that made advances towards significant reforms.
In addition, following the presidential election campaign, which always takes place in September, since the DPJ has become the ruling party it has been the case that Government, party and Diet-related personnel matters have been implemented in a uniform manner, with the aim of achieving a balanced personnel lineup and strengthening the various positions concerned. On this occasion I have implemented this Cabinet reshuffle along these lines, with the intention of strengthening the functions of the Cabinet.
As for the reason for Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Tanaka's appointment, you mentioned Japan-China relations. I would point out to you that I have not appointed her as Minister for Foreign Affairs. As I noted in my opening statement, Minister Tanaka has previously served as the Director General of the Science and Technology Agency and also as the Chair of the House of Representatives' Committee on Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, among other positions and she therefore has a wealth of experience in the field of education. It was with the desire that she engage in bold efforts to deal with challenges such as bullying that I appointed her to the position of Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and not for any reason related to Japan-China relations.
With regard to your observation that none of the other candidates in the presidential election have been appointed as Cabinet members in this reshuffle, not one of these persons indicated a desire to enter the Cabinet in the event that they lost the presidential election. All the candidates have experience of serving as Cabinet ministers and have great strengths and skills. On the basis of the various observations that each candidate made during the presidential election campaign, I believe that government and party administration from now will ensure a unified party structure and also that no further DPJ members leave the party. Rather than it being the case that my colleagues who stood for the presidential election have not been selected as Cabinet ministers, I would say that it is the case their observations and intentions will be duly reflected in administration from now on. I also wish to ensure just such a proper balance with regard to the selection and appointment of senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
CABINET PUBLIC AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Next person, Ms. Houga, please.
REPORTER: I am Houga of TBS.
I have a question concerning a party leaders' meeting with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito Party. You have previously stated that you intend to approach the other parties once their various internal structures are in place following the leadership elections in each party. What sort of schedule do you have in mind for making such approaches?
In addition, the leadership and executive members of the opposition parties have indicated that in the party leaders' meeting to be held from now, they wish to gain a commitment from you regarding the dissolution of the Diet "in the near term." In the previous session of the Diet you stated following the censure motion by the LDP that the situation had changed. Are we to understand, therefore, that in a future party leaders' meeting you will make a statement that is different to your previous stated recognition of the situation?
In addition, there is currently discussion concerning a delay in the convening of the extraordinary session of the Diet. What coordination efforts will you implement with the opposition parties concerning the convening of the Diet session and around when do you expect it to be convened?
PRIME MINISTER NODA: First of all, with regard to the party leaders' meeting, I would note that I have announced the members of the new Cabinet today, which will be followed by the announcement of the appointment of senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries tomorrow. Around the weekend a meeting of the DPJ Standing Officers Council will be held at which final confirmation of the personnel appointments within the party will be made. Once all these decisions have been made, I would like to implement consultations with the Secretary General of the party and the chair of the Diet Affairs Committee on various issues, including the way forward for the party leaders' meeting. Therefore now is not the time to make a statement on when such talks will be held.
At such a time as party leaders' meeting is realized, as I have indicated earlier, I would like to point out that there are some issues outstanding from the previous Diet session. These include the bill on special provisions concerning issuance of government bonds, the reform of the electoral system, including measures to correct the disparity in the relative weight of one vote and to reduce the number of Diet members, and the early implementation of the measures relating to the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems. As I believe that it is important to first discuss how we should approach these issues, I would like to make a judgment concerning when the next session of the Diet will be convened by taking into account such matters as the degree of communication and interaction with the other parties that can be achieved and whether there is a possibility of forming a degree of consensus on the outstanding issues.
On the occasion of the party leaders' meeting, I will not be making any reference to the timing of a dissolution of the Diet.
CABINET PUBLIC AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Next person, Ms. Hasegawa please.
REPORTER: I am Hasegawa of AFP. I would like to ask a question in relation to territorial integrity, particularly in relation to China.
You have stated that you will solve the territorial issues in line with international law and peaceful principles. In relation to the Takeshima issue involving the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan has proposed to jointly institute proceedings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On the other hand, in relation to the Senkaku Islands, the Government has maintained that it is an inherent territory of Japan and that territorial issues do not exist. In my opinion, I cannot see how a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests can be developed by maintaining this position. If China proposes to jointly institute proceedings before the ICJ, would the Japanese Government agree to take the matter to the court? There is the view that if Japan does not agree, and yet maintains that there is no territorial issue, Japan cannot escape criticism for having taken the same kind of stance that the ROK Government has maintained towards the Takeshima issue. How do you view this?
PRIME MINISTER NODA: Your question seems to include a number of different parts. During my recent address to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, I stated that unfortunately there is now the possibility that nations may collide over territorial and maritime disputes. I also emphasized that when a dispute arises, it is desirable to peacefully resolve the dispute with reason, by utilizing international judicial institutions and that Japan abides by these principles and views them as most important. This is fundamental.
For instance, in relation to the Takeshima issue, the island is an inherent territory of Japan in light of historical facts and based upon international law, however the Republic of Korea has effective control over the island. The Japanese Government has worked to have the ROK Government agree to jointly take the matter to the ICJ, however thus far unfortunately the ROK Government has not agreed to our proposals. It is indeed very unfortunate, but the Japanese Government's position is that we recognize that there is a territorial dispute and that we would like to have it officially recognized that Takeshima is an inherent territory of Japan by an international judicial institution.
On the other hand, the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law and in fact the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan. Therefore, the Japanese Government's position is that there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty.
I stand firmly on this fundamental position. I believe that I must stand firm in this stance. With this understanding, although I understand that China has its own claims, in order to approach the matter with calm and with reason, the most important pressing agenda for the Japanese Government is to investigate how to calm the issue and keep it under control through dialog via the various channels.
Therefore, as there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, Japan will not institute proceedings before the ICJ as we have attempted with Takeshima. So far, China has also not attempted to institute proceedings before the ICJ, nor has there been any sign of movement toward that end. Therefore, I believe that there is no current prospect of having proceedings before the ICJ as you suggested.
REPORTER: What if China does take the matter to the ICJ?
PRIME MINISTER NODA: I have nothing to say on that, as there has been no sign that this will happen.
CABINET PUBLIC AFFAIRS SECRETARY: We are out of time; I would like to bring this press conference to a close.
Thank you very much.