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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, October 27, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I would like to discuss the issue of energy strategy, about which I believe a material has been distributed to you. Considerations need to be made both on a new strategy for achieving a best energy mix, as well as on reforming the electricity system that will support this energy mix. With regard to the best energy mix, the Energy and Environment Council will start carrying out full-fledged activities, including preliminary calculations of the nuclear power cost and implementation of immediate measures for ensuring a stable energy supply and demand. As to the issue of the reform of the electricity system, on the other hand, this is an issue which involves an extremely wide range of points of contention: for example, the issue of compensation by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO); the modality of electricity supply; the reformulation of nuclear power safety measures; the review of the nuclear power business framework; and the institutional reform of the electricity business. Naturally, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the ministers in charge of nuclear issues will responsibly examine each and every point of contention. Meanwhile, because the points of contention are associated with each other, coordination among the relevant ministers is essential. Therefore, the Government has decided to launch the Ministerial Meeting on Electric Power Sector Reform and TEPCO, which I will be chairing, with the purpose of undertaking electricity-related measures in an integrated manner. The first meeting is expected to be held in early November. For details, please refer to the document explaining the purpose, which has been distributed to you.



REPORTER:I have a question regarding the easing of the warning against travel to North Korea, which was announced this morning, with respect to soccer. While this is a hypothetical question, if the Government were to ease the warning and allow Japanese people to travel to North Korea, is it really OK to approve travel for everyone? As long as the Government is giving approval, I believe it needs to clarify to a certain extent where to draw the line. Please tell us your thoughts on this.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:You mentioned at the outset that it was a hypothetical question. Nevertheless, I heard your view with interest. Right now, the Japanese and North Korean football associations are still holding discussions. Based on what is worked out between them, I believe the Government as a whole will be considering this matter.

REPORTER:I have a related question. For example, there may be spectators who become violent in North Korea, which I believe has happened in the past. Will the Government be taking any safety measures for Japanese supporters in North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As I said, the Government as a whole will be examining this matter holistically.

REPORTER:The findings of the stress test for Reactor No. 3 of the Oi Nuclear Power Station in Fukui Prefecture will be submitted to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) as early as tomorrow, which will be the first in the country. Can you tell us the flow of assessments after NISA assesses the reactor's validity?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This is about Kansai Electric Power Company's (KEPCO) Oi Nuclear Power Station. The findings of the so-called stress test are expected to be submitted to NISA as early as tomorrow. If the findings are submitted, then first NISA will thoroughly review the findings while ensuring transparency. Then, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) will check its findings. I believe this sort of procedure will be followed.

REPORTER:On the same subject, I believe there were also discussions before about confirming with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). What is the status of this now?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:According to the current procedures, the checks will stop at the NSC.

REPORTER:I have a question concerning the handling of contaminated waste, which is produced as a result of the decontamination of the soil, etc. contaminated by the nuclear power accident in Fukushima. Around when will the Government be able to present a roadmap?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe Minister Hosono responded to this question a moment ago at the House of Councillors' Environment Committee meeting. I believe he referred to it as a roadmap regarding the interim storage facilities for contaminated soil and waste in Fukushima Prefecture. This will be formulated by the end of October. Also, the Cabinet will aim to approve the basic policy on decontamination, not only for Fukushima Prefecture but on decontamination as a whole, in mid-November.


REPORTER:With regard to the ministerial meeting on electric power sector reform, do you plan to include senior members of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This is a ministerial meeting, but as I am the chair, I am planning on having DPJ senior members attend when necessary.

REPORTER:Do you mean to say that, more than having a fixed and official membership, individuals that the chair deems necessary - or when the chair decides that the circumstances require it - will be called on to attend?


REPORTER:This question is also about the same ministerial meeting. You previously mentioned that the Government would be making the final call concerning the restart of operations at nuclear power stations. Will this ministerial meeting be the body that makes these decisions? Also, I am still unsure as to where efforts to take into account local views will be incorporated into the process. Could you also clarify that?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As mentioned in the previous question, the proposal for Oi Nuclear Power Station will first be submitted to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) tomorrow, in such order. There, NISA will ensure that transparency is maintained - in other words, emphasize the public release of information - as they conduct an examination. Next, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) will make a decision with regard to that assessment. One thing that will be done is - during each stage of this process we will send notifications to the local areas in question. Moreover, the operator will of course provide a thorough explanation to local residents. This will be one aspect of the explanations.

REPORTER:When you say that you will seek local understanding, is this public explanation - I am not sure if explanation, or public announcement, is the correct phrasing, but - that you are referring to? I mean to say that, for instance, will there not be a chance to hear the opinions of local residents?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The concrete details of these explanations and efforts to seek the understanding of locals have yet to be determined, but I believe that explanations will of course be provided to local leaders.

REPORTER:Will the final decision not be made in this ministerial meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This meeting is - you have the table that was distributed to you, right? First, there is the Energy and Environment Council positioned under the National Strategy Council. I believe that a comprehensive decision will be made here, in the Energy and Environment Council, including on acquiring local understanding. That means that decisions will not be made in the ministerial meetings on electric power sector reform and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), but in the Energy and Environment Council.

REPORTER:This question is also in regards to the ministerial meetings on electric power sector reform and TEPCO. With regard to the positioning of the electric power sector reform, which would support the best mix of energy resources, the orientation of power supply and the power rate system are indicated at the bottom left of the table on the right. How will this Council delve into issues related to this reform, such as so-called regional monopolies and a rate system? Also, concerning the conclusions of the Council, by when does the Government intend to complete a reform proposal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As you have just implied, the issue of electric power sector reform encompasses a broad range of reforms. However, we intend to conclude a basic policy by the end of the year, and a reform plan by around summer of next year - a conclusive decision has actually yet to be made about this.To list them in order, we will commence discussion on compensation by TEPCO and modality of nuclear safety measures, and then wide-spanning themes related to electric power, including a revision of the nuclear power business structure. I believe that during these discussions a decision will be made on a specific way to push forward electric power sector reform.

REPORTER:So, the first deadline, or conclusion, will be -

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I hope to hold the first meeting during early November. We will discuss questions concerning that process at that meeting, so at this point my answer is that no decision has been made on any deadlines.

REPORTER:I would like to ask about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has indicated that he expects that it will take around a year before a final agreement is reached. How do you believe this comment impacts discussions being carried out by the Government and ruling parties concerning joining TPP negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The USTR commented that it would take around a year?

REPORTER:That is correct. He said that once a general agreement is made, it would take about a year before a final agreement is reached.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Oh, yes. Did he also say that the general agreement would be reached within the current year?

REPORTER:He said that it would be reached at an early date.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I see. No, I do not believe that comment itself could possibly impact current TPP discussions in a direct manner.

REPORTER:This question is also related to the TPP. In a gathering yesterday, New Komeito Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue expressed rather strong opposition to the TPP, saying that if the decision to participate in TPP negotiations is made, he will no longer be able to accept the Prime Minister. While the cooperation of the opposition parties is vital due to the division in the Diet, how does the Government intend to consider opposition parties' views such as this one in Government discussions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As you know, rather heated debate is also taking place within the DPJ as well. In light of the conclusion of that debate, discussion will be carried out with each party as well as between the parties - perhaps it will entail the three parties - and the Government intends to watch over those discussions.


REPORTER:It appears that a woman from Hyogo Prefecture that married and then divorced a man from the United States was detained in the United States for taking her older daughter back to Japan while the divorce proceedings were still underway, and now she is set for criminal trial. How does the Government's assess this situation? Also, as it seems that the woman was awarded custody by Japanese courts, does the Government intend to respond to this situation in any way?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First, according to the media, the woman was arrested in Hawaii. Of course, from the onset the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice had assessed this situation from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals overseas. Then there are the specific details of her case, and I will not say anything more, but I also see headlines indicating that Japan must quickly join the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention), and we are currently making considerations toward doing so.

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