Monday, October 3, 2011 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have one item to report, on personnel matters relating to the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister. To date Special Advisor Suematsu has been engaged in measures to deal with the declining birthrate and in measures to prevent suicide in his position as a senior vice-minister of the Cabinet Office. Given his outstanding knowledge and experience, as of today, October 3, it has been decided to appoint Special Advisor Suematsu to the additional portfolio of measures against the declining birthrate and suicide in addition to measures for reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake.
I have one more item to report, concerning the Government's response to cyber attacks. A meeting of the Information Security Policy Council (ISPC) will be held prior to the Cabinet meeting on Friday, October 7, this week. It is planned that in this meeting standardized measures to counter cyber attacks on government organizations and private-sector companies will be discussed.
REPORTER:In the Bank of Japan's quarterly report on business sentiment (Tankan) that was issued earlier, it is noted that there has been a significant improvement in business sentiment, particularly among large companies. What is the Government's view of the results of this survey and what outlook does the Government have for the economy as we move forward?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have not yet seen the detailed figures, but I believe that the report suggests that initial signs of improvement have been seen. However, with regard to the outlook from now, as was reported in the most recent Monthly Economic Report on September 20, while it is expected that the Japanese economy will continue to pick up, there are downside risks that could stem from further slowing down of less resilient overseas economies, and volatile fluctuations in exchange rates and stock prices. Therefore the Government will continue to carefully monitor the situation as we go forward.
REPORTER:With regard to peacekeeping operations (PKO), the study team that was dispatched to South Sudan has recently returned. What is the current status of considerations for a dispatch of personnel to South Sudan, and can you tell us anything about the possibility of an extension of the dispatch of PKO personnel in Haiti, which has been reported by some media sources?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:On October 2 the second study team returned from South Sudan. I have not yet received a report directly from the study team, but I hear that they have been able to implement the required studies and assessments calmly without undue problems. I would like to receive a report on the detailed content of the study mission at an early juncture from the ministries involved, and I expect that they will be compiling such a report as soon as possible. I am also aware of the media reports about the possibility of extending the dispatch of Japanese personnel to the PKO in Haiti for another year. The current plan for dispatch of our personnel remains in accordance with the mobilization period under the initial implementation plan, namely until January 31, 2012. As for Japan's response after that date, the current mandate for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as set by the United Nations Security Council is due to end on October 15 this year. The Government will make a decision on the dispatch of personnel by taking into account the general direction of discussions on MINUSTAH at the UN and the status of reconstruction in Haiti.
REPORTER:It has emerged that at a symposium hosted by the Government concerning the pluthermal plan for the Unit 3 Reactor of Tomari Nuclear Power Station the Government was involved in the posing of staged questions. I believe that the greatest hurdle to the pluthermal plan is gaining local consensus. Do you think that it is now feasible to continue with the plan in its current form?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have recently also received a report concerning the results of an investigation into so-called "staged questions" at a series of explanatory meetings. This is a most regrettable outcome and I would like to offer my apologies to those concerned. I believe that in order to ensure that such an incident does not happen again it will be necessary to formulate and implement preventive measures and make efforts to regain the trust of the public, under the leadership of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano. In addition, I would like to reiterate the point, as has been made in the past, that a decision on the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations will ultimately be made at the political level, following the series of checks including stress tests by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the further confirmation and checks by the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) and also based on whether the understanding of the local community has been attained.
REPORTER:Do you think that this current incident will have an impact on the restarting of operations at Unit 1 and Unit 2 Reactors, which are currently suspended for regularly-scheduled inspections?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:What is ultimately of importance is the understanding of the local community and a decision by the public, and this will become clear when the opinions of the public are sought from now.
REPORTER:I have a question concerning decontamination operations. Yesterday, in talks with the governor of Fukushima Prefecture, Minister for Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accident Hosono stated that the Government will provide financial assistance also to areas that have been exposed to additional radiation dose of more than 1 mSv but less than 5mSv. Are we to understand that this is the policy of the Noda Administration?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:In order to eliminate unease concerning the decontamination of radioactive materials as soon as possible, the current target for additional exposure dose is set at less than 1 mSv annually. The Government will work towards that long-term target, taking responsibility for decontamination efforts. Accordingly, I believe that the statement by Minister Hosono was that while priority areas for decontamination will be set from now, the Government will consider the provision of financial assistance also to regions where the additional exposure dose is less than 5 mSv annually.
REPORTER:On a related note, on September 28, the Ministry of the Environment announced to people responsible in the municipalities of Fukushima Prefecture that no financial measures would be established for regions with less than 5 mSv of additional exposure dose, with the exception of localized areas where exposure doses are particularly high. This announcement was met with opposition. Why does this explanation, provided by the ministry, seem to contradict the message provided by Minister Hosono?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I do not think that these two announcements are contradictory because the fact that the long-term goal is to ensure that additional exposure dose is limited to less than 1 mSv annually, and that the Government will take responsibility in engaging in decontamination operations is incorporated in the Basic Policy for Emergency Response on Decontamination Work , which is the most correct.
REPORTER:In your opening statement,you mentioned that the Information Security Policy Council meeting will be held on October 7. Prior to this Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and other private companies were subject to cyber attacks. However, at the current point there is no obligation for private sector companies to report such attacks to the Government. How does the Government intend to go about collecting information from now?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Within the framework of the Information Security Policy Council, we are planning to establish a working group to enhance cooperation between the public and private sectors. The Government is also proceeding with domestic preparations for the ratification by Japan of the Convention on Cybercrime.
REPORTER:Returning to the issue of decontamination, do the comments made by the minister that the Government will take responsibility for additional exposure dose of more than 1 mSv but less than 5 mSv annually imply that the Government will in fact cover all costs?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The way Minister Hosono stated this point yesterday was that he did not state that the Government would not provide financial assistance, so if you put it the other way round, it would be the case that the Government will cover the costs.
REPORTER:So, are you saying that regardless of the format or scheme that is adopted, the Government will in fact cover 100% of costs for financial assistance to areas where there is additional exposure dose of more than 1 mSv but less than 5 mSv?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Without stipulating a specific percentage, I believe that yesterday Minister Hosono was merely reiterating that the Government would provide assistance to ensure that the long-term target of additional exposure dose below 1 mSv annually is achieved.
REPORTER:I have a point of confirmation concerning the "staged questions" incident. Is there a possibility that if the local community does not agree, the plan could be scrapped or frozen?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Does your question relate to the construction of new power stations, which I have responded to on frequent occasions?
REPORTER:I was referring to the pluthermal plan.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Yes, the pluthermal plan. The concept for the future of pluthermal will be discussed in the Energy and Environment Council, in conjunction with consideration of various renewable energies. This is not something that is related to the recent "staged questions" incident. It is an issue that relates to energy policy as a whole.
REPORTER:So at the very least the pluthermal plan is being advanced, but with regard to whether it can be taken forward further, if you cannot gain the agreement of the local community, is it likely that the plan would be scrapped or frozen?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This is a question based on a single hypothesis, I would say that we are still working on a blank canvas at this moment by putting all hypotheses aside.