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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, October 4, 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 two items to report. The first concerns the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations (PKO) in South Sudan, which are referred to as the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). An onsite study team was dispatched to South Sudan from September 24 to October 2, to examine the feasibility of dispatching the SDF. I recently received a report from the Government ministries concerned about the findings of the study team in order to further advance deliberations concerning the dispatch of an SDF Engineering Group to UNMISS, the Government has deemed that it is necessary to additionally confirm the logistical assistance that is in place, including supply routes, as well as sanitary conditions relating to the deployment of SDF personnel to South Sudan from further practical and expert perspectives. For this reason it has been decided to dispatch an additional onsite study team to South Sudan and the neighboring countries of Kenya and Uganda. A decision on whether or not the SDF Engineering Group will actually be dispatched will be made after further considerations within the Government, based on the results of this additional onsite study.

The second item I have to report concerns the international decontamination mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Government seeks to realize the return home at the earliest possible juncture of people who have been forced to evacuate due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and to eliminate the concerns of those affected and of the general public, and therefore is taking responsibility for the implementation of operations to remove and decontaminate radioactive materials. Given the need to advance decontamination activities more effectively, based on an agreement reached with the IAEA the Government decided to accept the dispatch to Japan of an international decontamination mission. Based on a request by the Government, the mission, comprising 12 IAEA and international experts, will visit Japan between October 7 to 15, 2011 to: (1) Provide assistance to Japan in its plans to manage decontamination efforts; (2) Review Japan's decontaminationstrategies, plans and work; and (3) Share its findings as lessons learned with the international community. The IAEA mission will exchange views with the Japanese authorities involved in the decontamination effort. It will also observe the model programs for decontamination being implemented onsite by Japan. In addition, at the end of the mission a report will be compiled by that IAEA, which will be made publicly available. The Government seeks to cooperate with the international community as it gathers knowledge from Japan and overseas to engage in decontamination operations, and it is expected that the acceptance of this IAEA mission will contribute to making these operations more expeditious and effective. For further details please direct your questions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



REPORTER:Could you tell us about the content of the report by the onsite study team based on its findings and also the composition of the second study team that will be dispatched to South Sudan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The report I have just received contains information relating to: (1) the local conditions, including public security; (2) what the expected work content will be for the SDF Engineering Group; and (3) the status relating to logistics and sanitation. The content of the report was compiled on the assumption that it would not be made public, given the need to provide detailed information and maintain relations of trust with other people concerned. At some point in the future it may be possible to release the content of the report, but at the current point I would like to limit the details released to those that I have just announced. The next study team mission is currently being coordinated by the Government ministries and agencies concerned. I expect that it will be similar in format to the study team that returned two days ago.

REPORTER:Today the Biennial Convention of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO) was held and a new policy was announced of leaving out nuclear power in the mid- to long-term. What is the Government's view of this policy and do you think it will have an impact on discussions within the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration, given than RENGO is one of the DPJ's supporters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Today RENGO announced a policy under which it will aim to achieve a society that is not dependent on nuclear power. President Koga of RENGO has stated that it is necessary to reduce dependence on nuclear power in the mid- to long-term and ultimately aim for a society that does not depend on nuclear power. That was the gist of his comments I believe. The Government has already announced that the current Basic Energy Plan, which spanned the period until 2030, will be revised from a clean slate and a new strategy and plan will be announced by summer next year. Based on such perspectives as energy security and cost analysis, we will seek a wide range of opinions from the public concerning the best way for mid- to long-term energy policy to be constructed, and in cooperation with the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy and the New Policy-Planning Council on the Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy, the Energy and Environment Council will consider the various issues calmly. My understanding is that we will seek a wide range of opinions, which will inform our ongoing considerations.


REPORTER:On a different topic, this year during the Autumn 2011 National Traffic Safety Campaign the number of deaths from traffic accidents was 103, the lowest ever figure since statistics first began in 1954. What is your view on this figure, particularly given that you were once an advisor to the Ashinaga (charity foundation for orphans originally founded by former orphans from automobile accidents)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe your question refers to the Autumn 2011 National Traffic Safety Campaign that ran from September 21 to 30. During the period of the campaign there were a total of 103 road-related deaths. This was 29 fewer people than the previous year. However, road-related accidents are causing many injuries and fatalities every month and every day. Since my student days, using a phrase the "war on traffic," I have been involved in activities to provide advice to families who have lost their loved ones, or help orphans to progress through the school system. Ashinaga has now grown and is involved in support for all orphans, not just those from automobile accidents. However, I still feel that the "war on traffic" is not yet over.

REPORTER:On a different subject, President Obama has recently submitted a draft bill to the United States Congress for a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the Republic of Korea and the United States. If this bill is passed it is likely that tariffs on exports of Korean vehicles to the United States would be gradually eliminated, which would further intensify competition between Japanese and Korean automobile manufacturers. Do you think that this recent development will have an impact on discussions concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I am aware that competition with the Republic of Korea is already quite intense, not just relating to automobiles, but also to electrical products. However, I do not think that this will have an immediate impact on the TPP negotiations. Japan is also engaged in comprehensive deliberations concerning the conclusion of FTA with various countries, as well as economic partnership agreements (EPA) and also the TPP, and is advancing considerations on what response needs to be made to each country. Therefore I do not think that the subject you mentioned will have an impact on the TPP itself.


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