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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Sunday, September 11, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have three items to report to you today. Today a joint meeting of the Reconstruction Headquarters in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Emergency Disaster Response Headquarters, and the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters was held at the Prime Minister's Office. At the meeting a moment of silence was observed to commemorate the passage of six months since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. In addition, various consultations and decisions were made with regard to the status and challenges of recovery from the disaster, a report on the status of efforts for assistance to people affected by the nuclear power station accident, and an additional report from the Government of Japan to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Following that meeting, an extraordinary Cabinet meeting was held to consider the policy speech by the Prime Minister, to be delivered at the opening of the extraordinary Diet session on Tuesday next week.

In addition, although this was already informed in a bulletin yesterday, following a request by Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hachiro, a round robin Cabinet meeting agreed to accept his resignation. I shall be serving as the acting METI minister for the interim.



REPORTER:I would like to ask for your thoughts concerning the resignation of Mr. Hachiro.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:It is highly regrettable. However, one of the issues relating to the resignation concerned comments made by Mr. Hachiro in a press conference, in which he used words and phrases that were truly hurtful to the feelings and sensitivities of the residents of Fukushima Prefecture. I had already pointed out that the words that he chose were inappropriate and I too would like to apologize sincerely to the people of Fukushima. With regard to the other point that has been reported in the press, concerning "off the record comments" made by Mr. Hachiro, there are significant differences between what he actually said and what has been reported. The Prime Minister indicated, I think it was yesterday, that we would like to hear an explanation about this matter from Mr. Hachiro himself. During the meeting to explain this point to the Prime Minister, Mr. Hachiro expressed his intention to resign and therefore it was decided to respect his wish, leading to the resignation.


REPORTER:I believe that at the joint meeting held today the members will have reflected on the course of the previous six months following the disaster and discussed the current status and challenges for recovery. Could you tell us in general what kind of challenges were discussed during the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First of all, in today's meeting, we observed a one-minute silence to commemorate the victims of the disaster. On March 11, I was present in the National Diet Building in my position as acting Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and it was there where I experienced the earthquake when it struck at 2:46pm. Shortly after the quake, an emergency meeting of officials was organized and at just after 3:00pm the DPJ Great East Japan Earthquake Response Headquarters was launched, for which I have served as Secretary General. During the minute of silence held today I spent the time reflecting on all that has happened since that time.

It was also mentioned in the joint meeting today that there have been opinions from some regions, pointing out that it is still too early to use the term reconstruction when recovery is not even completed. I believe that we must respect these opinions and pay heed in the future to the fact that the process is still not exclusively about reconstruction. Indeed, there are still areas where a majority of recovery efforts have to be completed, including the removal of debris. There is also the issue of decontamination operations in Fukushima. The minister responsible for decontamination reported to the meeting that this remains as a tremendously significant issue. In addition, in terms of reconstruction and the question of how people will go about their lives in the future, including such issues as relocation of communities to higher ground, there are still various regional differences and the ministers responsible for reconstruction issues will work thoroughly to address these regional differences.

REPORTER:Today I believe that the first meeting concerning the abduction issue at which the Prime Minister was present was held. I believe that the new administration will be taking a different approach to this issue in contrast to previous administrations, and may have certain points it wishes to concentrate on, as witnessed by the decision to appoint Mr. Matsubara, who has been involved in the abduction issue to date, to the position of Senior Vice Minister. Can you give us your comments regarding this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Government's basic posture was mentioned at the outset of that meeting by the Prime Minister, at which members of the press were present. As we move forward, under the new administration of Prime Minister Noda, the Government is resolved to ensure that all ministers concerned examine the issue closely and make every effort to address it, including taking into account the wishes expressed by the families of the abductees.


REPORTER:The six months following the disaster have for the most part been under the administration of Prime Minister Kan. At the current point all temporary accommodation facilities have yet to be completed, although Prime Minister Kan previously stated that temporary accommodation would definitely be completed by the Obon holiday period in August. This failure to complete temporary accommodation is causing hardship for disaster victims. What does the Noda administration intend to do to deal with this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Within the DPJ I have been participating in the project team for temporary accommodation promotion under the leadership of Mr. Mikazuki. Initially there was a very rigid structure in place when dealing with the various government offices involved, and there were certain aspects of measures that were considerably delayed, but we made progress by constantly urging action. I believe that the current problem is not necessarily a lack of temporary accommodation, but rather differences in various individual needs and whether or not people will use temporary accommodation or not. There are other options in addition to temporary accommodation, including public housing or renting from the private sector, and using these various options I believe that demand for housing has now been almost satisfied. There are still aspects relating to individual choice, with some people preferring not to go and live in temporary accommodation, and in these instances I believe that the local communities will engage in coordination and adjustment.


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