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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER:There are reports saying that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is considering raising electricity prices. Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba has expressed discomfort with the idea. Do you believe that the public's understanding can be obtained regarding the electricity price hike while TEPCO is still in the midst of paying out compensations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This matter will requires approval by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); it is METI that has jurisdiction over this matter. Therefore, under the auspices of METI, I believe careful considerations will be made moving forward. That said, I was in charge of the discussions on the Act to Establish Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation at the House of Representatives Special Committee on Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and as someone who was involved in the deliberations, I believe I can report that the flow of the discussions of the ruling and opposition parties was that electricity prices cannot be increased easily.

REPORTER:Even if TEPCO were to request an increase in electricity prices, the Government will not easily approve the request. Is that your present understanding?


REPORTER:Regarding a slightly different subject, yesterday, I believe Prime Minister Noda had a series of telephone meetings with foreign leaders. During the conversation with Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China, the Premier requested Prime Minister Noda's early visit to China, and Prime Minister Noda gave a positive response. At this time, has any date been proposed for the timing of this visit to China? Also, I believe President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea (ROK) requested a visit to the ROK, and Prime Minister Noda also requested a visit to Japan. Has any schedule been proposed for these visits?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have been told that a request to visit China or the ROK was made during the telephone meetings. I believe Prime Minister Noda's response was that he would like to visit China or the ROK at a mutually convenient time. As to the schedule, I believe that is something that will be worked out from now onwards.

REPORTER:I have a question on foreign policy. In an essay that Prime Minister Noda contributed to a monthly magazine which will be coming out soon, the Prime Minister wrote that there is no need to set forth a grand vision like the East Asian Community (EAC). Is the Noda Cabinet's plan not to touch on the EAC in the future, including the policy speech?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe the last part of what you said was your question. The policy speech is being worked on right now.

REPORTER:I have a related question. I believe the EAC is something that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has been proposing, even in its manifesto. Has Prime Minister Noda withdrawn this proposal? Or is it being put on freeze?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:It is true that the manifesto touches on the future EAC. I think it depends on how long of a timeframe we are talking about. The proposal has not been withdrawn whatsoever.

REPORTER:Starting tomorrow for three consecutive days, the Prime Minister will be in areas affected by disasters. Can you once again discuss the significance of this visit? Also, I believe Mr. Hirano has given a report today, but can you share what was discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Tomorrow, and skipping one day so two days after tomorrow, Prime Minister Noda will be visiting Fukushima and the Sanriku area in Miyagi and Iwate. In between, on September 9, Prime Minister Noda is scheduled to visit the three prefectures which were devastated by Typhoon No. 12. Although I am aware that Minister of State for Disaster Management Hirano gave a report a moment ago, I am not aware of the contents as I was not in attendance. I heard from Mr. Hirano briefly over the phone last evening that Nara and Wakayama have been hit hard by Typhoon No. 12.

REPORTER:It has been one year today since the incident of the Chinese fishing boat collision off the coast of the Senkaku Islands. Since the incident, an unstable situation has continued surrounding territorial rights, including the intrusion of Chinese vessels into Japanese territorial waters at the end of last month. How does the Government intend to address this issue moving forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First, without a doubt the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory both historically and by international law, and at present, Japan has effective control over the territory. In addition, I believe it is the fundamental duty of the Government to fully maintain Japan's territorial integrity, including the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. Every effort is being made at all times, including the development of an arrangement involving the Japan Coast Guard and relevant departments. Also, in terms of Japan's relations with China, during the telephone meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday about which there was a question a moment ago, I understand that the two sides confirmed that it is important that they further strengthen the strategic relationship of mutual benefit and steadily build up mutual cooperation and exchanges in a wide range of areas.

REPORTER:I have a question regarding the new construction of nuclear power stations which the Prime Minister indicated the difficulty a few days ago. At your press conference yesterday, you said that new construction refers to making arrangements from now on to secure the land and to newly construct a nuclear power station. Meanwhile, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hachiro said something to the effect that nuclear power stations cannot be constructed even in areas where nuclear power stations already exist and in the future there will be zero nuclear power stations. I have the impression that there isn't a consistent understanding of new construction within the Government.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:There were some decisions made by the Government at the meeting of the Energy and Environment Council at the end of July. The first was to review from scratch the existing Basic Plan on Energy to have 50% dependency on nuclear power stations by 2030. The next was to reduce the dependency on nuclear power stations. These were the decisions which were made. However, as to the specific roadmap, a thorough plan for both the short-term and mid- to long-term will be discussed and formulated at this Energy and Environment Council, bearing in mind the power supply and demand forecasts for some time to come. Therefore, now is not yet the time in which we can present a conclusion.

REPORTER:If I may confirm, according to what you said yesterday, the Oma nuclear power station, which is currently under construction, is not considered new construction. Is my understanding correct that the construction may be resumed eventually in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Of the 14 nuclear power stations planned to be constructed, three have already started construction or are close to completion. I believe the Energy and Environment Council will be discussing and formulating a vision on this matter as well.



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