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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, October 18, 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 a report concerning the handover of archives during the course of Prime Minister Noda's visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK). As a result of the various coordination efforts that have been implemented to date, it has been decided that on the occasion of the Prime Minister's current visit to the ROK, he will hand over a total of five volumes of archives that have previously been earmarked to be handed over to the ROK. I believe that a list of these volumes has been distributed to you. Since the enactment of the Agreement between Japan and the ROK on Archives, coordination efforts have been implemented concerning the appropriate timing for the handover and the Government has duly decided to hand over a number of the archives to coincide with the holding of the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting on this occasion. It is expected that this handover will further enhance cultural exchange and lead to a more mature, future-oriented relationship between Japan and the ROK.


REPORTER:What is the Government's plan concerning the timing of the handover of the remainder of the archives?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:There are approximately 1,200 volumes that remain to be handed over and the timing and manner of the handover will continue to be coordinated with the ROK government.

REPORTER:Does that mean that President Lee Myung-bak is expected to visit Japan before the end of the year, which is the deadline for the Agreement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:It is a question of whether it will be possible for President Lee to visit Japan before the end of Japan, and coordination efforts will continue to be implemented.

REPORTER:The opposition parties have been critical with regard to the handover of the Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty, noting that the handover is one-sided. What is the Government's view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The decision to handover the archives was made on the basis of a statement issued by the Prime Minister, in which it was noted that from the perspective of building a future-oriented relationship, archives originating from the Korean Peninsula that were brought to Japan during the period of Japan's rule through the Governor-General of Korea and which the Government of Japan possesses, will be transferred. In that sense the issue of archives that remain in the ROK is a separate issue and not one that should be considered in parallel with this issue. Such issues will naturally require separate consideration.

REPORTER:So are we to understand that the Government will engage in separate considerations with regard to other archives?


REPORTER:What specific form will such separate considerations take?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I cannot comment on the specifics of such considerations at this time.

REPORTER:Would it involve surveys and research of the archives?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Yes, I believe it would include such measures.

REPORTER:So it will be considered from now?


REPORTER:During his visit to Fukushima Prefecture today the Prime Minister has announced the establishment of a team to support compensation claims, which will function under the auspices of the Corporation in Support of Compensation for Nuclear Damage. Can you explain what the specific role of this team will be and the purpose and background to its establishment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe that a press release about this matter was distributed at 4:00pm today. Today during his visit the Prime Minister has stated that it is necessary to respond sensitively to the issue of compensation, based on the difficulties that the affected residents are directly facing in their daily lives. The Prime Minister has also stated to the effect that for this purpose it has been decided to create teams for onsite consultations, including five specialist members: one attorney-at-law, three public notaries, and one representative of local government. Twenty teams, comprising a total of approximately 100 people will be dispatched to Fukushima to provide a detailed response, thus facilitating empathetic and attentive implementation of compensation payments. I believe the Corporation in Support of Compensation for Nuclear Damage will issue a press release, but in addition to the onsite dispatch of this expert team it has also planned the implementation of a telephone consultation services and the establishment of an office in Fukushima Prefecture.

REPORTER:If you look at this from another perspective it could imply that the current support structure or response by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been insufficient. What are your thoughts on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Just as the Prime Minister has stated, the Corporation in Support of Compensation for Nuclear Damage has been established in order that the Government can provide empathetic and attentive responses to the issue of compensation and to ensure that payments are made swiftly and appropriately. In accordance with this objective the teams have been established to provide attentive and responsive consultation services.

REPORTER:There are reports that in the recent meeting between yourself and the chairman of Hokkaido Electric Power Company, Inc., this afternoon, you stated that from the perspective of ensuring stable energy supply, progress should be made towards the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations. Was this the content of your talks with the chairman of Hokkaido Electric Power Company?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The issue of restarting operations at nuclear power stations that are currently suspended for regular inspection did indeed come up in conversation. I stated, in accordance with what I have stated in the past, that the Government's stance is to realize the restarting of operations only after the tests implemented by power station operators have been assessed by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). These assessments will then be further verified by the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC), following which it will be ascertained as to whether the restarting of operations would have the understanding of local residents and the trust of the general public. After all these processes the Government will come to an overall political judgment on the restarting of operations.

REPORTER:On a related note, in the same meeting it has been reported that you requested that every measure be taken to ensure that there are no power shortages during the winter months. What is the outlook of the Government concerning winter power shortages?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:A meeting is planned for the end of this month to consider the issue of electricity supply and demand. I believe that final agreement and confirmation will be made at that meeting. The situation varies from power company to power company, and I hear that it is anticipated that Kansai Electric Power Company will have a shortfall of several percent in terms of energy supply. Each company from around the country is required to provide accurate data, which will form the basis for the measures to be created by the Government.

REPORTER:It had previously been predicted that there would be a shortfall in electricity supply during the winter months, and at that time the previous Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hachiro had indicated that rather than issuing a government order on electricity usage restrictions, the Government would seek to make a response by which voluntary power saving measures were implemented. At the current point is there no change to this stated position?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I do not think that there will be any significant changes to that policy.

REPORTER:Today the Prime Minister is visiting Fukushima Prefecture. Yesterday, the Government and TEPCO announced a revised roadmap for bringing the nuclear power station accident to a conclusion. Given this milestone, could you provide us with the Government's assessment concerning the status of progress towards bringing the accident to a conclusion and also any future challenges?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Yesterday it was announced that Step 2 of the Roadmap towards the conclusion of the nuclear power station accident was expected to be brought forward to about January next year. Although the conclusion of Step 2 will represent significant progress, the next step after that will be of a longer term nature. We must still remain cautious and above all what will need to be examined upon the conclusion of Step 2 is whether or not the Restricted Area can be dissolved. It is hard to imagine that the entire Restricted Area could be dissolved and therefore the Government's stance is to maintain a cautious stance as we move forward.

REPORTER:Today you held a meeting with the Senior Vice Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in which you apparently considered the issue of radiation hot spots. What is the current status of considerations within the Government concerning hot spots?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Today I received a report from three teams, from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Ministry of the Environment, and also the Cabinet Office Team in Charge of Assisting the Lives of Disaster Victims. Today an agreement was concluded among these three government ministries and office. During the course of this week guidelines will be compiled by MEXT that will form a source of reference for measuring radiation volumes, and also preparations for creating and maintaining a consultation/liaison structure will be concluded. The response policy will therefore be announced by the weekend and from next week it is anticipated that the consultation/liaison structure will be put in place. I believe that MEXT has also made an announcement to this effect.

REPORTER:These three Government ministries and office are cooperating in these efforts, but is it the case that basically the overall coordination and consistency will be overseen by MEXT?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Rather than viewing it in terms of consistency, it has been the case to date that MEXT has been largely responsible for measuring radiation at various points and also from the air. The radiation hot spots are part of this process and MEXT will therefore be responsible for the consultation/liaison structure that will be established from now.

REPORTER:With regard to the decontamination of hot spots, I believe that at the current point there has not been any assistance provided from the central government. With the implementation of this new structure, does the Government now intend to embark upon assistance for decontamination of hotspots?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Yes. The Cabinet Office Team in Charge of Assisting the Lives of Disaster Victims and the Ministry of the Environment will work together, and I expected that by this weekend it will be possible for an announcement to be made concerning assistance for decontamination operations.

REPORTER:If you don't mind, I would like to ask a follow-up question to this morning's question regarding the issue of Hokkaido Electric Power Company's involvement in the misrepresentation of public opinion. The president of the company affirmed at a press conference that he has no intention of resigning. With regard to the 30% pay cut, he has also said that this was an appropriate penalty for this matter. Can you please discuss your thoughts on the penalties which have been imposed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:My response will be partially a repetition of what I said this morning. Last week on October 14, a third-party panel of Hokkaido Electric Power Company presented a report. Yesterday, its President Yoshitaka Sato said that he would fully accept the contents of the report and announced the penalties imposed on some members of the company as well as recurrence prevention measures and so on. I believe it is vital that the company appropriately takes recurrence prevention measures and so on moving forward. The Government will not comment on penalties or the like imposed on members of a company.

REPORTER:Concerning a company's penalties, you have said from before that the understanding and trust of the local communities are indispensable to restarting operations, etc. With this latest scandal, however, Hokkaido Electric Power Company has significantly undermined the trust and understanding of the local people. Based on this fact, what is your view about the company's responsibility?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:With regard to this matter, I believe a decision was made based on the company's judgment. How to take the next steps are critical. Moving forward, it is vital that the company takes appropriate recurrence prevention measures, including restoration of trust, and I hope that the company will restore public trust in the process of doing this.

REPORTER:In terms of restoring public trust into the future, do you believe the local community's understanding can be obtained through these latest penalties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This is about the understanding of the local people, and I believe it is not up to me to assess whether the peoples' understanding can or cannot be obtained.

REPORTER:I have a question concerning the Japan-ROK summit meeting. One of the issues between Japan and the ROK is the Takeshima issue. Can you please once again explain the Government's position on the territorial rights over Takeshima?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe the same response is always given. Takeshima is an inherent part of the territory of Japan, and the Government will continue to make persistent diplomatic efforts for a peaceful resolution of the issue of the territorial rights over Takeshima.

REPORTER:In this context, the Government's website and other sources state that the occupation of Takeshima (by the ROK) is an illegal occupation undertaken on absolutely no basis in international law. Do you yourself agree with this recognition?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:My understanding is that Takeshima is being controlled without any legal basis.

REPORTER:Is there a reason that you avoided the words "illegal occupation"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Decisions about what type of language to use at what type of setting also relate to the policy decisions at the time of the respective administrations. In any case, my response was based on a comprehensive judgment.

REPORTER:I would like to ask a question regarding tax increases for reconstruction.


REPORTER:A Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)-New Komeito Policy Research Committee Chairs' meeting was held a moment ago, and at this meeting, it seems that the two sides have begun coordinating to extend the reimbursement period from the current 10 years to around 15 to 20 years. In the Prime Minister's interview yesterday, too, he indicated that it is alright to be flexible as long as it is consistent with the basic concept. Does the Government intend to respect the extension which is currently being discussed between the two parties?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As I always say, discussions are now taking place between political parties, and I believe it is not up to the Government to say this or that while the discussions are still ongoing. We will follow the discussions, wait for a conclusion to be reached, and then summarize our thoughts. I believe there is such a sequence when we go about this.


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