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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER:It has been reported that a vessel with markings in the Korean script has been sighted off the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. What information does the Government currently have concerning this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Today at 7:26am, a Japanese fishing vessel passing the vicinity reported to the 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters that there was an unfamiliar vessel with markings in the Korean script off the coast of Wajima on the Noto Peninsula. The Japan Coast Guard immediately mobilized a patrol vessel and aircraft and upon investigation and confirmation of the vessel, it was found to contain a total of nine persons, three males, three females and three children. The people on the vessel informed the Japan Coast Guard official that: 1) they had set sail from North Korea and 2) they were in need of rescue. Already the Japan Coast Guard has made a statement, issued by the 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters. In your question did you refer to a "suspicious vessel"?

REPORTER:I referred to a "vessel."

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Yes, a "vessel." The 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters has issued a statement concerning information about the vessel, which is specified as an "unfamiliar vessel," rather than a "suspicious vessel." At the current point, that is the information that the Prime Minister's Office has received.

REPORTER:What will become of the nine people on the vessel, who are now in protective custody?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Japan Coast Guard is currently confirming the facts of the matter and in terms of a response, there are a number of past precedents. My response at the current point is that based on these past precedents, an appropriate decision will be made.


REPORTER:The Prime Minister gave his policy speech to the Diet today, however, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) Tanigaki has criticized the content, stating that it contains nothing creative or innovative. How does the Government respond to these criticisms?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Government is in the position of having expressed its intentions in the policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister. Accordingly, it is possible that the Government would receive some criticisms or praise for this policy stance, and at the current point I do not think that there are additional messages the Government sends out in response to the comments like you just mentioned at this juncture.

REPORTER:On a related note, I believe that there was absolutely no reference to education in the Prime Minister's policy speech. The Prime Minister has stated that in the past administrations he had hoped to serve as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, so why did he omit to mention education in his speech?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Perhaps you did not hear the entire speech, but one of the major themes it contained was "development of human resources." I have been involved in educational matters for many years and it is my belief that the priority purpose and goal of education should be to "nurture and develop people." In that sense, the nurturing of human resources is one of a number of frontiers that the Prime Minister mentioned. What is still fresh in my memory is that in the past there has been reference to "cultivating human resources," but what was referred to today was the "development of human resources." By developing human resources, these people will become a frontier for Japan to reach out to the world and I think that this perspective on education is one that is somewhat different from previous ways of thinking. I think that the Prime Minister was stating this concept in his policy speech.

REPORTER:I think that in the policy speech the Prime Minister focused on relatively short-term challenges, including post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. Does this reflect the Prime Minister's own preferences and focuses?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Since his election as leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Prime Minister has focused on what he sees as the two major crises facing Japan. In his policy speech he reiterated that the most important thing is that all people in the nation, including ruling and opposition parties, the Government, politicians, the National Diet, the bureaucracy and everyone else truly work together as one to overcome these national crises. I think that it is natural to expect that the policy speech should contain some ambitious targets for a future vision for Japan. However, on this occasion, the key point that the Prime Minister wanted to express was his determination to overcome the two major national crises we face, namely the earthquake and tsunami disasters and nuclear accident in the domestic context, and the economic and fiscal crisis in international terms. Beyond these challenges lie other frontiers, which were also mentioned by the Prime Minister.


REPORTER:On a related note, I believe that the Prime Minister referred to the establishment of a new meeting in his policy speech, which was probably "the National Strategy Council". What is the expected schedule for this new grouping and when do you expect that the first meeting will be held?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This is something that was mentioned in the policy speech, but as yet does not have a clearly delineated form. One area is energy policy, the reconstruction of which was clearly laid out in the policy speech. Another issue that the Prime Minister has consistently mentioned is achieving both economic growth and fiscal health, which relates to economic and fiscal policy. Another issue is related to frontier, especially how Japan can reach out to the world and contribute to the international community and all of humankind. These three themes would become pillars as we move forward, but with regard to your question about specifically when a meeting or council will be initiated to address these, I believe more time will be necessary. These considerations will not take a great deal of time but we are not talking about a decision being reached as early as this week or next week.


REPORTER:I have a question on the response to the nuclear power accident. The first round of temporary entry into the restricted area (the no-entry zone) has been completed, and if I am not mistaken, I believe the Government was contemplating the idea of starting the second round as early as the end of this month. From when do you expect residents to be able to make their second round of entry?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:By September 9 of last week, all residents who wished to make a temporary entry into the restricted area have done so in the first round, which began on May 10. As we now make the final arrangements for the implementation of the second round of temporary entry, we would further like to be able to meet the wishes of the residents, for example, to make the entry by their own cars. However, as to the question of from when this will start, the target date will be something like what you just mentioned, but I cannot yet say here that a date has been clearly decided.

REPORTER:You are considering allowing residents to make entries by their personal cars?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Yes. I believe the considerations being made right now for the next round is to allow residents to use their personal cars instead of buses, and if so, details such as how this will be done and in what order.

REPORTER:May I ask one more question? It is again about the response to the nuclear power accident, about lifting the designation of evacuation-prepared area in case of emergency (emergency evacuation preparation zones). I believe, based on the recovery plans received from local municipalities, the Government was considering the lifting of all such designations as early as by the end of this month. What is the status of the considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:You are referring to the evacuation-prepared area in case of emergency, correct?


CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:In lifting the designations, I believe it is necessary that the respective communities establish recovery plans which include plans for the smooth relocation of residents, the resumption of public services such as schools and hospitals, and the decontamination of school grounds. These recovery plans need to be established based on the actual situation of the communities, and considerations are now being made in each municipality. Once these recovery plans are formulated, I suspect all designations of evacuation-prepared area in case of emergency will be lifted. While the plan is to lift the designations at the same time, I cannot immediately say when it will be at this moment in time.


REPORTER:If I may go back to the contents of the policy speech. In reference to the establishment of a new meeting structure, that is, the establishment of "the National Strategy Council", you said that there will be about three pillars. Will security matters not be included in these three?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Recently, I may have said that foreign policy and security were also included in the vision. After that, the Prime Minister and I discussed that the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), trade issues, and foreign policy will naturally be included but that security is indeed a slightly different matter as we have a formal organization for this, the National Security Council. This is where we are right now. We are not yet at the stage in which I can give a clear-cut explanation at this time.

REPORTER:Changing the subject a little, it seems that yesterday the Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture commented on the conditions for restarting the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station. The Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station was shut down upon the request of the Government in May. If I may confirm once again, what is your view on restarting the operations of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Our view, not just of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station, but of all nuclear power stations currently shut down is as was explained in the response of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano in his press conference at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry yesterday. Each and every nuclear power station will be carefully inspected. On that basis, whether or not the nuclear power stations will be restarted is, I believe, an individual matter.

REPORTER:I'm sorry to ask another question. However, meanwhile, when the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station was shut down upon the Government's request, the power station was shut down because of the high probability that the Tokai earthquake will strike Shizuoka Prefecture. In his policy speech today, the Prime Minister said throughout that the operations will be restarted following regular inspections. Then, is my understanding correct that the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station is also one of the nuclear power stations included in this framework?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe that is our understanding.

REPORTER:I apologize for asking a slightly detailed question, but regarding "the National Strategy Council", will the Cabinet be submitting legislation to the Diet for the establishment of this council?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:In principle, the council will not be based on any laws. Up to now, since last year, a variety of councils have been established within the Cabinet Secretariat. I believe this will be one of these strings of councils.

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