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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, October 21, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Following-on from my press conference this morning, I have several announcements to make.

First, with regard to the flooding in Thailand, many logistics were coordinated between the relevant ministries and agencies again today. Concerning the flood damage in Thailand and Japan's response, government officials are scheduled to be holding a press briefing this evening here, at the Prime Minister's Office, regarding the current status of the damage, the measures which have been taken so far for the Japanese people and Japanese companies in Thailand, and the status of Japan's assistance for Thailand. An announcement will be made soon about the press conference time and so on.

My next announcement concerns the Government's preparations for a German satellite that is expected to fall to the Earth, as reported by the media. According to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany's decommissioned x-ray observatory satellite is predicted to reenter the Earth's atmosphere between October 22 and 23, Coordinated Universal Time (CUT), which is minus nine hours Japan time, where upon a portion of it will fall to the Earth without burning up. In response to this situation, the Government established the Information Liaison Office Concerning the Falling of a German Satellite at 1:00pm today within the Crisis Management Center of the Prime Minister's Office in order to strengthen the overall Government's ability to collect and consolidate information regarding this incident and to ensure a thorough response. In preparation for a worst case scenario, the Government is now deliberating response measures, including enhancing communications among related ministries and agencies as well as on information gathering and provision methods. According to DLR, the debris from the satellite does not contain any hazardous substances, and judging from information provided by DLR and other sources, the possibility that the debris will land in the vicinity of Japan and cause harm to citizens is extremely low. So, I ask that citizens remain calm and go about their daily lives as normal. Information about the satellite is regularly updated on DLR's website, and a provisional Japanese translation of that information is also regularly provided via the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's (MEXT) website. The Government will quickly notify citizens in the event of danger to Japan.

Also, today, MEXT, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), and the Cabinet Office's Team in charge of Assisting the Lives of Victims around the Nuclear Power Plant have compiled immediate response guidelines for areas outside of Fukushima Prefecture which have radiation levels higher than the surrounding region, which have been distributed to you. The major points are as follows. (1) A guideline has been created to serve as a reference for municipalities and members of the private sector, etc. in measuring radiation levels. (2) MEXT has been designated as the point of contact if an area with radiation levels higher than its vicinity is discovered. The guidelines specify in what situations people should report to MEXT. (3) It was decided that in certain cases, MOE and the Team in charge of Assisting the Lives of Victims around the Nuclear Power Plant will be contacted by MEXT to work together with the municipalities to support the decontamination work. (4) By "immediate" response guidelines, we anticipate that in principle the guidelines will be in effect until the Act on Special Measures Concerning Handling of Radioactive Pollution fully enters into force on January 1, 2012. For details on materials 1-3, please direct your questions to MEXT. For details on material 4, please direct your questions to MOE and the Team in charge of Assisting the Lives of Victims around the Nuclear Power Plant.

And one final issue. On his recent visit to Fukushima Prefecture, the Prime Minister said that all of his meals prepared at the Prime Minister's Office will use rice from Fukushima Prefecture. As such, rice from Fukushima Prefecture was used starting from today's lunch. Fukushima Prefecture rice was used in the lunch served at the vice-ministerial talks of government ministries held today, which I ate as well.



REPORTER:In his press conference following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Edano stated that the Government is considering establishing a ministerial meeting to deliberate reform of electrical power generation. What is the current status of Government considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I hear that there has been a proposal for a ministerial meeting on the themes of electrical power generation, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and issues relating to immediate supply and demand. The aim is to hold such a meeting by the end of the month, but the schedule has not yet been decided. I believe that the first issues to be discussed will be those immediately relating to supply and demand, for the winter months and then for summer next year.

REPORTER:If the issues to be discussed in such a ministerial meeting will relate to seasonal supply and demand, I believe that this issue is also being discussed in the Energy and Environment Council. How will discussions be divided between this Council and the ministerial meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Energy and Environment Council is tasked with the large theme of addressing particularly nuclear power generation by August next year. However, the ministerial meeting will probably discuss issues of power generation, TEPCO and supply and demand, which are more immediate and pressing issues, and will go into specifics concerning supply and demand in the winter months and in summer next year. Thus, I think that issues to be discussed are largely different.


REPORTER:There are some press reports that Japan and France will conclude an agreement on the protection of classified information. What are the facts behind these reports and what are the reasons for concluding such an agreement, assuming that the reports are true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I would like to clarify what has been reported in the press. This agreement will be implemented within the scope of domestic laws and ordinances. The contents of the agreement include provisions on the designation of classified information in the receiving country upon receiving information from a state party to the agreement that has been designated as classified. The receiving country will then accord protection equivalent to that applied to the classified information in the providing country, and also restrict access to such information and ensure its protection when information is being transmitted. It is planned that following an agreement at the leader level when Prime Minister Fillon of France visits Japan, the agreement will subsequently be signed, probably on Monday next week, by Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba and the Charge d'Affairs a.i. of France to Japan.

REPORTER:This is only the third such agreement that Japan has concluded, following similar agreements with the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). What is the purpose or aim of concluding a similar agreement with France?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:There has previously been a desire to seek to conclude an agreement between Japan and France concerning measures to prevent the leaking of classified information. However, the conclusion of this agreement does not mean that the scope of classified information subject to penalty in the event of leakage has been expanded or the severity of the penalties has been strengthened. Accordingly, the purpose of the agreement is to confirm the cooperative ties between Japan and France and it is not expected that this agreement will result in a reduction in the volume of information disclosed or disseminated. The merits of the agreement are that it will serve to form a basis from which information sharing and cooperation can be further advanced, thus ensuring the prompt and smooth provision of information from the French Government to the Japanese Government. I believe that it will further strengthen cooperation between Japan and France.

With regard to the previous question concerning power generation, I should add that the Energy and Environment Council will also consider the issue of the best energy mix in relation to power supply and demand. The issues of TEPCO, power generation reform and nuclear power safety will be discussed in the ministerial meeting. The membership of the Energy and Environment Council is different from that of the ministerial meeting with the participation of many other members and therefore the two meetings will be considerably different in character.

REPORTER:You mentioned the situation in Libya in your morning press conference. I would like to ask what support the Government intends to provide for nation building in the new Libya. Also, in his press conference following the Cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Gemba stated that if the security situation stabilizes in Libya it is highly likely that Japan will look to invest in Libya. What are the Government's intentions regarding the potential for future investment in Libya, which is an oil-producing nation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As I stated in this morning's press conference, the Government welcomes and expects moves to stabilize the security situation in Libya as soon as possible and also efforts to launch a unified provisional administration in the near term that will be able to ensure the creation of an environment conducive to full-fledged reconstruction. The statement by Foreign Minister Gemba has been reported in the press and in this statement he mentioned a number of points, including the extreme importance of the Libyan Government seeking to engage in new nation building, and the expectation of the Government of Japan that the conclusion of armed conflict in the country, and efforts to stabilize the security situation will be achieved as soon as possible. The Foreign Minister also stated that the Government of Japan will provide assistance to Libya to ensure that a new Libyan nation is built in which all the Libyan people can participate, while utilizing its experience and technology and cooperating with the international community. However, the specifics of Official Development Assistance (ODA) cooperation will be considered from now.


REPORTER:In ministerial discussions this morning the Prime Minister spoke about the proposal-based policy review, which may come as a surprise for the ministries and agencies. Could you tell us the details of the Prime Minister's statement and the instructions he gave?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:With regard to the implementation of proposal-based policy review, it was Minister Renho who stated that each ministry and agency would be required to provide various documents in advance. It was this requirement for each ministry and agency to provide supplementary documentation that the Prime Minister stated may cause surprise. The point of his comment was that he expects all ministries and agencies to cooperate fully towards the realization of proposal-based policy review.

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