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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, September 9, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I would first like to give an overview of today's Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved seven general and other measures, and also the promulgation of legislation and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Hosono made a statement on the usage of the Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction Reserve Fund. The Minister for Foreign Affairs made statements concerning measures to freeze the assets of government officials and related people in Syria among other measures, and also on the Government of Japan's relations with the new government of the National Transitional Council of Libya. Minister Renho made a statement on the implementation of Suicide Prevention Week FY2011. Minister Hirano also made a statement concerning the status of response to damage caused by Typhoon No. 12 this year.

In ministerial discussions that followed the Cabinet meeting, I made a statement concerning future efforts for Government revitalization by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Noda. In addition, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry made a statement concerning the conclusion of electricity usage restrictions pursuant to Article 27 of the Electricity Business Act. In addition, I made a request to all Cabinet ministers, that when making television appearances or participating in various discussions in governmental fora, to confirm beforehand the Government's stated policy and ensure that their statements are based on this policy.

Next, I would like to report on personnel decisions that have been approved. As of today, September 9, former president of Surugadai University and current professor of the Law School Research Department of the same university, Prof. Norihiko Narita, has been appointed as Special Advisor to the Cabinet. I would like to report that Prof. Narita has recently received his letter of appointment from the Prime Minister.

Following a period working in the National Diet Library, Prof. Narita has devoted himself to scholarship on Japanese political theory and comparative politics. Given his outstanding wealth of experience and insight relating to electoral and parliamentary systems and also based on his previous appointments, including as president of Surugadai University, he has been chosen to provide information and advice to the Prime Minister concerning the modalities for policy coordination within government and among the ruling parties, and also on electoral system reform.

Special Advisor to the Cabinet Kazuo Inamori will retain his position and will continue to provide guidance and advice on all aspects of government administration from a broad perspective.

In addition, among the 14 other currently serving Special Advisors to the Cabinet, Special Advisors Tadashi Maeda, Naoki Minezaki, Yoshio Kobayashi, and Yusuke Nakamura will retain their positions and will continue to provide advice to the Prime Minister concerning matters in their respective specialist fields. With regard to the remaining ten Special Advisors, at their own request it has been decided that they shall retire from their posts.


REPORTER:In today's Cabinet meeting, or possibly in ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, it has been reported that Prime Minister Noda has stated once again that "without the revival of Fukushima there can be no revival for Japan as a whole," following his visit to the prefecture yesterday, and has given instructions to the Cabinet ministers on a response regarding this issue. Could you tell us about the specific content of the Prime Minister's remarks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:At the end of ministerial discussions, the Prime Minister reported that yesterday he had visited the site of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and also Date City, and had met with the governor of Fukushima Prefecture, as well as engaging in an exchange of opinions with the mayors of the disaster-affected municipalities. The Prime Minister then reiterated that "without the revival of Fukushima there can be no revival for Japan as a whole." He gave instructions to the effect that yesterday he had conveyed to the people of Fukushima that the Government would make every effort to bring the accident to a conclusion and also to engage in decontamination of radioactive materials, and that he wished these efforts to remain uppermost in the minds of all Cabinet ministers.


REPORTER:In relation to the nuclear power station, I believe that the current administration will basically take over the policy of the previous administration concerning the interim storage facility. Can I confirm that under the Noda Administration the Government's policy of situating this interim facility in Fukushima Prefecture remains unchanged?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:When Prime Minister Kan visited Fukushima Prefecture on August 27, he indicated that the Government would have no other option but to request that the interim storage facility be located in Fukushima Prefecture and a request was made accordingly. At the current point there is no change to this concept, but given that its realization will require the understanding of the local people, the Government will continue to engage in considerations on this matter, with local consultations continuing to be led by Minister Hosono.

REPORTER:With regard to the scheduling of the two points of future specific considerations and consultations with the local residents, how do you specifically plan to engage in consultations and by when will these be implemented?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The basic concept of Prime Minister Noda is to provide detailed explanations and listen carefully to the direct opinions of local residents. This process is an open-ended one and the content of consultations and dialogue will be spearheaded by Minister Hosono.


REPORTER:Yesterday, on his visit to the affected areas the Prime Minister expressed a positive stance on the creation of a fund for the purpose of reconstruction. Please tell us about the concrete details of this fund, such as its scale and its specific purpose.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First, I believe that this is a manifestation of the Prime Minister's intention to include such a fund in the third supplementary budget. Today, budget requests for the third supplementary budget are to be received from the ministries, and the fund is also expected to be considered along with the budget. There was even a request for this from the Policy Research Council Chairman of the New Komeito Party yesterday. In consideration of these developments - and I am sure that these matters will also arise in discussions between the ruling and opposition parties - we are now going to begin deliberating the specifics as things advance, such as how large the fund will be or whether a special measures act will be created.

REPORTER:In accordance with the removal of electricity restriction orders, the Government is to allow the restart of operations at nuclear power stations undergoing routine inspections if safety is confirmed. Please comment on how decisions are to be made and what standards nuclear power stations will operate on until the Nuclear Safety and Security Agency is established in April of next year.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:With regard to the issue of ensuring safety at nuclear power stations, in consideration of the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station we are carrying out a response by continuing to do what is possible without waiting for serious revisions in terms of resistance and safety regulation. We have implemented emergency safety measures and employed a safety assessment framework that references stress tests from Europe and with the views of the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC). We intend to continue to implement various response measures that are needed to improve safety, earn the trust of national citizens with regard to safety, and ensure the peace of mind of everyone until the Nuclear Safety and Security Agency - that is still a tentative name - is established in April of next year.

REPORTER:As was reported at the beginning of today's edition of our newspaper, we have discovered that the Russian military launched an exercise in training airspace, where they flew in a large loop that was shaped like the overall Japanese archipelago. What is the Government's take on this and how does the Government intend to respond to this going forward? Also, since the Noda administration has just been established, I get the impression that Russia is trying to assess the stance of the Noda administration. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe that I answered this yesterday, but it is my understanding that two Russian bombardment aircrafts flew near Japanese territory, flying along a path that resembled the shape of Japan. It is also true that Self-Defense Forces aircraft scrambled and responded to this issue. This is not the first time that Russian bombardment aircrafts have circled Japanese territory, but one of the reasons that the Ministry of Defense announced this event as being special is because the Russian bombardment aircrafts flew from the northeast coastline of the Kuril Islands directly over the Tsushima Strait and until the western side of Okinawa Island, then eastbound over the Pacific Ocean passing over the Northern Territories to again fly over the Sea of Japan, making for a long distance flight exercise. Furthermore, after passing over the Northern Territories, the bombardment aircrafts converged with other Russian military aircraft and refueling aircraft and refueled in temporary airspace danger area established by Russia. This was also the first time that this type of Russian refueling aircraft was observed. It is my understanding at present that these reasons led the Ministry of Defense to interpret this incident as being exceptional.


REPORTER:This question concerns the disaster. Population outflow from affected areas is continuing, and in August the number of people that had evacuated outside of their prefecture of residence had reached 56,000. This also includes a large number of children. What is your understanding of this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have heard that it is likely that nearly 80,000 residents have left Fukushima Prefecture as a whole. The Government intends to provide the necessary care - or perhaps I should say response - to citizens where they have traveled. If we are talking about children, then this would be mainly through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and local boards of education.

REPORTER:At the ministerial discussions you commented on the future efforts of government revitalization. What specifically did you report?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Allow me to quickly read out what I reported here.

First, government revitalization is one of the most important issues we face. It goes beyond simply eliminating the wasteful elements of government, and the issue is rising in importance as a way to allow the Government to fully exercise its administrative capacities in working towards disaster reconstruction and new nation-building.

Second, concerning past government revitalization undertakings, efforts including the review of government programs have produced such results as administrative streamlining and government-related organization reform. However, we are only half way there. In order to meet the strong expectations of national citizens with regard to governmental revitalization, it is necessary, and the responsibility of the Cabinet, for the Government to make a unified effort in investigating old and inefficient frameworks and vested interests in all parts of the government, and construct a new government system without fear of change.

Third, the Minister of State for Government Revitalization was asked to exert a greater level of effort than in the past, while all ministers were asked to personally present active and bold stances on reform internally and externally as members of the Noda Cabinet. Also, all ministers were asked for their utmost cooperation in future governmental revitalization efforts.

That is what I said during the discussions.


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