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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As the Senior Vice-Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare last year, I can affirm that the Committee of Pension of the Social Security Council has continuously held numerous discussions on this matter. And, on June 30 of this year, the Headquarters of the Government and Ruling Parties for Social Security Reform decided -- let me read out just a little bit of the section on pension -- "To examine the macroeconomic slide, increase in the pension eligibility age, and increase in the upper limit of standard remuneration." It is on this basis that the Committee of Pension of the Social Security Council is now holding discussions. I do believe that any conclusion has been reached yet. My understanding is that the Council has begun discussions, and that discussions will continue and at this point in time no conclusion has been reached.

REPORTER:I have a question related to this issue of pension. In the Government and Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) proposal in June for the comprehensive reform of the social security and taxation system as well, raising the pensionable age to 68 to 70 was included in the options. In line with the three proposals presented by the Council this time, will the Government and ruling party be proceeding with their study with the aim of drafting a legislation for next year's ordinary session of the Diet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe there are some items on which the Council will reach a certain conclusion by the end of the year, but this is not a matter which will yield a conclusion on all items by that time. Thus, I believe this is not a matter involving such a hurried timetable.

REPORTER:Slightly changing the subject, yesterday, the mayor of Tokaimura requested Minister Hosono to decommission the Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Station on the grounds that many people live within the surrounding area and the nuclear power station is aging. Such a request is unusual. Can you tell us your thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I heard from Mr. Hosono yesterday that the mayor of Tokaimura made such a request to Minister Hosono. Currently, in Tokaimura, just one reactor is undergoing a regular checkup and is shut down, and I think the mayor made his statement in relation to the issue of restarting such nuclear power stations. With regard to the restarting of operations, ultimately a political decision will be made based on the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's (NISA) assessment of the stress test carried out by the power station operator and the Nuclear Safety Commission's (NSC) confirmation of its validity, and as I always say, based on the attainment of the understanding of the community and the trust of the people. Ensuring safety and forging relations of trust with the community members are a major premise. For the local municipality, the Government will be out front in carefully explaining measures such as the safety measures, among other matters. Through following this sort of procedure, I believe a decision will be made. Thus, I believe the request was accepted as a request.

REPORTER:If I may ask again about the Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Station. The request was made against the backdrop that more than 30 years have passed since the power station started operations. I would like to ask once again what the current views of the Government are with regard to dealing with the aging of nuclear reactors.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe the reactor in Tokaimura, capable of producing 1.1 million kW of electricity, started operations in 1978. The Government's view is that, as Prime Minister Noda has been saying all throughout, if a nuclear power station passes its lifespan, a new nuclear power station will not be built. Therefore, naturally I believe reactors will disappear after 40 years or 50 years - the lifespan may be different depending on the reactor.

REPORTER:Regarding the issue of comfort women, yesterday the Government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) raised this issue to a panel of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and called on member states to provide remedies. It is believed that the intent is to strengthen the international community's pressure on Japan concerning the right to seek damages. Please tell us the Japanese Government's response and thoughts on these moves.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As the Government has always responded, so-called right to compensation had been vanished. And thereafter, a fund was established and allowances were paid out at the private sector level, which I believe concluded in 2007. However, since then, the Government's stance to continue taking into consideration a follow-up program of this fund has not changed at all.

REPORTER:In response to the earlier question about nuclear power stations, you said at the end something to the effect that while it depends on the respective reactors, naturally you believe that the reactors will be gone. When you say naturally they will be gone, are you indicating that in the future nuclear power stations will be gone from Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Energy and Environment Council is yet to establish a long-term energy policy for the future, which is expected to be decided by August of next year. Therefore, while reactors which have been in operation for 50 or so years will be eliminated, I was not concluding that nuclear power stations will disappear from the Japanese society.


REPORTER:On a different topic, the Myanmar Government has announced that it is to grant amnesty to 6,359 prisoners and release them. Also, it is said that some of those to be freed are political prisoners. What is the reaction of the Government of Japan in response to this move? Also, please comment on future relations with Myanmar, including in terms of economic cooperation.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:According to the media, Myanmar President Thein Sein will release 6,359 prisoners, including numerous political prisoners. We are currently confirming this through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In June of this year, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Makiko Kikuta met, and the Japanese Government intends to continue to demand the Myanmar Government to further advance democratization efforts. Furthermore, the Japanese Government believes that it is important for the Myanmar Government to continue to hold talks with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) that she leads, and that it is vital that more political prisoners are released. In order to provoke this type of positive action, it is important that, rather than isolating the country through sanctions, a channel of communication should be maintained with the Government and tenacious efforts should be made to encourage it. In doing so positive action will be prompted. The Government of Japan intends to continue to utilize every opportunity to approach the Myanmar Government through high-level channels.

REPORTER:With regard to the itinerary for Prime Minister Noda's visit to China, are certain news sources correct in reporting that the Prime Minister is scheduled to make his visit during December?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe that those media reports are simple conjecture based on earlier statements that the Prime Minister would visit China before the yearend. In addition, Minister Koichiro Gemba has personally said that he would like to visit China before the Prime Minister, and when asked whether that visit would take place within the year, Minister Gemba commented that he believed that was the general direction of things. I believe that is why the media reports on the Prime Minister's visit were released. Ultimately, however, we are currently working on coordinating a schedule and no specific schedule has been decided on as of yet.


REPORTER:This also came up in yesterday's press conference in the afternoon, but please confirm what steps are being discussed toward returning Chosun Dynasty "Uigue" archives to the Republic of Korea at the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Summit Meeting.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:If the various circumstances allow, Prime Minister Noda is currently scheduled to visit ROK as early as October 18. The current situation, however, is that no decision has been made yet about whether archives subject to return to the ROK based on the Agreement between Japan and the ROK on Archives are actually to be returned during this visit. In either case, the deadline for the return as specified in the Agreement is around early December, I believe. The Japanese Government and the ROK Government will continue to coordinate with each other so that such archives are returned by an appropriate time.


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