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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, September 21, 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 like to report about the Government's response to the heavy rainfall, etc. caused by Typhoon No, 15. First, let me explain the current situation. Due to the effects of Typhoon No. 15 and a rain front, heavy rain is falling across a wide region from West Japan to East Japan, and we expect that Typhoon No. 15 may make landfall over Honshu within today. Regarding the so-called "landslide dams" in Iya, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture, the water level measured by a gauge as of 10:00am today was 170cm higher than the landslide dams and it is believed that the water has begun to overflow. The situation is such that the dams can collapse at any moment. In addition, across Japan, the typhoon has flooded rivers and caused mudslides, and more damages are feared as the typhoon progresses. As to the damage, so far it has been confirmed that as a result of this disaster three people have died, two people are missing, and nine people are injured. There are also reports of other damage, including the partial collapse and flooding of houses. We offer our prayers and condolences to those who lost their lives as well as our heartfelt sympathy to everyone who has been affected.

As for the Government, the Information Liaison Office Concerning Heavy Rainfall caused by Typhoon No. 12 and No. 15, which was reorganized by yesterday, has been working hard to respond to the situation including collecting and gathering information. In addition, at 9:00pm yesterday, a joint ministerial meeting was held, at which the Government, the affected prefectures and municipalities joined together and confirmed to take all possible efforts to implement rescue activities and flood prevention activities as well as to prevent the further expansion of damages. Furthermore, the relevant ministries and agencies are continuing to monitor the landslide dams caused by Typhoon No.12. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, we will need to stay on maximum alert for damages resulting from heavy rains, strong winds and high tidal waves across a wide region spanning from West Japan to North Japan. I urge that everyone will continue to pay full attention to information about heavy rainfall and other weather information, and that in the event that evacuation instructions or evacuation advisories are issued, people will try to take appropriate actions including swiftly evacuating to a safe location.



REPORTER:Yesterday, in Afghanistan, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated or killed reportedly in a suicide attack. What is the Government's view on this matter? Also, please explain your thoughts on the impact of this on the peace process in Afghanistan moving forward.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:According to reports, Chairman of Afghanistan's High Peace Council Rabbani died in a terrorist attack yesterday, September 20, in Kabul. This is what has been reported and is not something that has been confirmed by the Japanese Government. I would like to reiterate that we strongly condemn this terrorist attack and that no act of terrorism can be justified. The Japanese Government hopes that Afghanistan will continue to make strides towards achieving stability in the country, including its political process. As to the impact on peace and reconciliation, I understand that at the U.S.-Afghanistan summit meeting held on September 20, President Karzai stated that Afghanistan will continue to take steps towards the stabilization of the country. Japan will continue to support the reconciliation process which will be advanced under Afghanistan's leadership and ownership, and Japan will continue to provide assistance.

REPORTER:I have a related question. As of November last year, at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting as well, the Japanese Government was considering the dispatch of Self-Defense Force (SDF) medical and nursing officers as part of the assistance measures for Afghanistan. Can you tell us what the current status of the considerations is, based on the worsening security situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Ministry of Defense is making careful considerations of this matter.

REPORTER:There are reports that in an interview with the Wall Street Journal prior to his visit to the United States, the Prime Minister indicated that the Government aims to restart nuclear power stations by the summer of next year. He also stated that a lack of electrical power would drag down the Japanese economy. In light of these comments by the Prime Minister, I would like to ask whether the various safety measures that have been announced in the past, including stress tests, which are the prerequisite for restarting operations at nuclear power stations, have any real meaning and if they are not inconsistent with the Prime Minister's comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:In May next year it has been determined that operations at all nuclear power stations, which until the earthquake accounted for 30% of total power generated, will be halted. It is therefore expected that electrical power supply capacity will be significantly reduced, more severely than even this summer. Although this year the power supply shortfall was approximately minus 2.7%, the forecast for next year is that it will be approximately minus 10.0%. I believe that the Prime Minister's comments were made with a view to summer next year, however, with regard to the restarting of operations at each power station, there is absolutely no change in the Government's stated policy, namely that operations will be restarted only after thorough safety checks have been implemented at each power station and furthermore relations of trust have been built up with local governments.


REPORTER:Yesterday, during his visit to the United States, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture Nakaima met with Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and expressed his opinion that the Japan-U.S. agreement and draft plan for integration of the Kadena Air Base were unworkable. I believe that, for the Japan-U.S. agreement to progress, it will be necessary for the Government to continue to seek the understanding of Okinawa Prefecture. At the current point what measures is the government considering effective in gaining the understanding and agreement of Okinawa Prefecture?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Just like previous administrations, the issue of relieving the burden on Okinawa, where many bases are concentrated, is one of the highest priorities for the new administration of Prime Minister Noda. In that sense, with a view to eliminating danger as quickly as possible, the issue of the relocation of the Futenma Air Station in particular is one that the Government is making every effort to resolve, based on the Japan-U.S. agreement. I am well aware that there have been harsh criticisms of the Government's efforts in Okinawa, and during his visit to the United States Governor Nakaima has expressed the position he has maintained to date. The Government's stance at the current point is to continue to provide sincere explanations to the people of Okinawa and to seek their understanding.


REPORTER:There are views that the recent cyber attacks on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., and IHI Corporation have targeted companies related to the defense of Japan. What is the Government's recognition of this situation, including from the perspective of crisis management?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:There have been media reports that in addition to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, there have also been cyber attacks on IHI Corporation and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. These reports are currently being confirmed. The threat of cyber attacks have been growing in modern societies with the development of information and communications technologies is growing. The Government is duly aware of the importance of responding swiftly and appropriately to such attacks. Following the cyber attack on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a cross-ministry liaison meeting of all directors responsible for this issue was held at the Cabinet Secretariat and instructions were reissued, concerning the need to promptly share information within the Government. In terms of content, this includes each ministry and agency requesting all companies involved not only in defense-related contracts, but also other companies that have contracts for other government work, to take measures to respond to the threat of cyber attack. Above all, with regard to cyber attacks on government bodies, and private sector companies engaged in the defense industry or key infrastructure-related operations, it is of the utmost importance for the status of an attack to be swiftly detected and its scope and response measures promptly compiled as a means of minimizing damage escalation. The Government will further enhance liaison among all ministries and agencies and also with private sector companies, taking all measures to make a comprehensive response to cyber attacks, including through the development of human resources expert in cyber security.


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