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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, October 28, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have a number of items to report. Firstly, I will give an overview of today's Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 12 general and other measures, and also the promulgation of legislation, cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications and I made statements concerning the handling of the remuneration review for national public servants. The Minister of Finance made a statement concerning the supplementary budget for fiscal 2011. The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry made a statement concerning the 2011 Annual Report on Energy. The Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement on the results of the labor force survey and the results of consumer price index and household budget surveys. The Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement on the national ratio of jobs to applicants. I joined the Ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Health, Labour and Welfare in making statements concerning the acceptance of Thai employees of Japanese companies in connection with the flooding in Thailand.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement concerning the establishment of regulation values for radioactive materials in food. I made a statement concerning the partial return of Cabinet ministers' remuneration.

Included in the items I have just reported was the acceptance of Thai employees working at Japanese companies in Thailand that have been affected by the floods in that country. The flooding has submerged many industrial zones where Japanese companies have plants and offices located, forcing these companies to halt operations and thus having a serious impact on their business activities. The flood damage is having serious impact not only on the Japanese economy, but also on the economic activities of the ASEAN region as a whole, given the knock-on effect to the supply chain. Japanese companies operating business in Thailand have made a request to the Japanese Government to permit the temporary dispatch to Japan of Thai employees for the purpose of engaging in substitute production activities, from the perspective of maintaining the supply chain and recovering production and business activities in the near term. Given these circumstances, as an emergency temporary measure the Government has decided to permit these Thai employees to work as transfer employees, under certain conditions including that the transfer employees are those who have been employed in factories that are no longer able to function due to flood damage and that the companies dispatching these employees to Japan will ensure their return to Thailand. Instructions have been issued to the ministries and agencies concerned to provide a prompt response to immigration and visa issuance procedures. For specific details concerning the immigration procedures, please direct your questions to the Ministry of Justice. For details concerning the requests submitted by Japanese companies in Thailand, please direct your questions to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Next, at the 3rd Ministerial Meeting on Remuneration-related Matters held today and at the Cabinet meeting that followed, a decision was made relating to the handling of the remuneration review for national public servants. Following the receipt of the National Personnel Authority (NPA) Remuneration Recommendation on September 30, the Government has engaged in earnest considerations, under a basic concept that given the current system in which basic labor rights of national public servants are restricted , the Remuneration Recommendation system of the NPA should be respected. The decision by the Cabinet has been handed to you in printed format and the main points of the decision are as follows. With regard to the remuneration of national public servants, taking into comprehensive consideration that (1) the Special Temporary Draft Bill on the Remuneration of National Public Servants which was submitted as a measure to respond to the stringent fiscal situation facing Japan and to the unprecedented national crisis caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, will, in comparison with the level of remuneration reduction proposed in the recent NPA recommendations, require the construction of stringent measures to reduce remuneration to national public servants, and (2) that furthermore, it is evaluated that in general the draft bill includes the intent and purpose of the other recommendations received from the NPA, the Cabinet has decided to make every effort to achieve the prompt passage of the Special Temporary Draft Bill on the Remuneration of National Public Servants, and not to submit a draft bill for the revision of the General Act on the Remuneration of National Public Servants in order to implement the NPA Remuneration Recommendation. I have issued a statement, which has also been distributed to you, concerning the content of the Cabinet decision today.

Next, I would like to report about the return of ministers' remuneration, a hand-out concerning which has also been distributed to you. From the perspective of having the Cabinet demonstrate due leadership in terms of efforts to secure financial resources for reconstruction, without waiting for the passage of the Special Temporary Draft Bill on the Remuneration of National Public Servants that is currently being deliberated by the Diet, today in ministerial discussions the members of the Cabinet discussed voluntary repayment of their remuneration starting from November, of an amount equivalent to that stipulated in the draft bill that has been submitted to the Diet. For the same purpose, similar discussions will be held in the round robin meetings of Senior Vice Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries that will take place today. In terms of the specific amounts of repayment, currently the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers are repaying 10% of their monthly remuneration, including their Diet expenses but excluding regional allocations. However, from next month it has been decided that the regional allocations and the twice-yearly bonus payments will also be subject to reduction. The Prime Minister will repay 30% of remuneration received from these allocations and bonuses, with Ministers and Senior Vice Ministers repaying 20% and Parliamentary Secretaries repaying 10% of the total. Due to these alterations the total annual amount for repayment will be approximately 12 million yen for the Prime Minister, approximately 6 million yen for Ministers and Senior Vice Ministers, and approximately 2 million yen for Parliamentary Secretaries. In the case of Parliamentary Secretaries in particular, payments for administrative-related duties, excluding Diet member expenses, will be reduced to almost zero. For details please direct your questions to the Cabinet Affairs Office.



REPORTER:I would like to ask about the Ministerial Meeting on Remuneration-related Matters. The Government will not be adopting the NPA Remuneration Recommendation. However, during Diet proceedings yesterday and the day before, an individual from the NPA pointed out the concern that such a decision could infringe on the Constitution. Furthermore, they pointed out that the Special Temporary Draft Bill does not rectify unfair remuneration differences, as it should. How does the Government intend to respond to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have heard that in yesterday's committee meeting the NPA stated their view that the Special Temporary Draft Bill on the Remuneration of National Public Servants does not incorporate their recommendations. From our standpoint, and this is somewhat detail-oriented, but this bill was drafted from the perspective of getting the ball rolling on making sacrifices to secure financial resources to respond to the unprecedented crisis at hand. While taking into consideration the livelihood of public servants, the bill provides a three-stage, slight gradated reduction - ranging from 10%, 8%, to 5% - in accordance with the official responsibility of public servants. If you look at the overall effect that this has, applying this reduction can be considered to flatten the remuneration curve, so it incorporates the concept of a reduction, and as the gradated element also result in the remuneration curve to flatten, a rigorous investigation carried out by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau has determined that this is not unconstitutional, as the NPA has alleged.


REPORTER:On a different note, there is news that an agreement on the joint development of rare earths is going to be made at the upcoming summit meeting between Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the Prime Minister on October 31. Are arrangements currently being made toward such a direction? Also, if possible would you please describe what plans are being made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:In October of last year, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan met with Vietnam Prime Minister Dung and agreement was reached that Japan becomes a partner, We are currently making final adjustments to an agreement document related to the specific development of Dong Pao Mine and on an intergovernmental cooperation project so that the document can be signed at the summit meeting next week. This agreement pertains to rare earths.

REPORTER:The Chinese authorities have not approved use of the newly constructed Japanese embassy in Beijing because its floor area is too large. Please comment on how the Government is going to respond to this situation and what impacts this will have on diplomatic relations with China.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The issue of floor area concerns the details of the building and is thus somewhat technical. Currently, final adjustments are being made locally and it is my understanding that this is not to have any implications on our diplomatic relations.

REPORTER:According to certain media sources, today, Prime Minister Noda is to meet again with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima. Please comment on the authenticity of these reports and, if the two are to meet, what they intend to discuss.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Today, Okinawa Governor Nakaima is to pay a personal courtesy call on Prime Minister Noda at around 3:00pm following an official request made at yesterday's meeting of the Okinawa Municipal Council for Military Land Conversion and Base Problems. I have been told that the meeting will be around 30 minutes long. This will be a so-called courtesy call.

REPORTER:I would like to ask about today's meeting of the Council on National Strategy and Policy. I apologize, as this question is rather specific, but when the top officials of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives and the Keidanren are introduced, they are introduced by individual company names. Is it correct to say that these individuals are members of the Council in their respective private capacities, and not under their titles as tops of the business community - or, leaders of these economic organizations? Again, I apologize for the specificity of the question.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I commented on this before in one of my press conferences, but the Council comprises ministerial members and private sector members. With regard to private sector membership, other than the Governor of the Bank of Japan, I believe everyone was introduced as an expert. These individuals are participating under this framework, and not as the representatives of their respective organizations.


REPORTER:This question is with regard to Minister Koichiro Gemba's comments in the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Concerning the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, when asked by a Committee member whether the Government is considering a special measures law in response to the Governor in order to carry out landfill work, Minister Gemba repeatedly answered that at present the Government has made no such decision and that he has no idea. Is the Government considering the possibility of a special measures law?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Government is working in concert and in all sincerity to acquire the understanding of Okinawan residents, as the overall agreement between Japan and the United States is that this transfer will lead to significantly reducing the burden on Okinawa, at least compared to the current situation. We are not considering the idea of implementing a special measures law.

REPORTER:Just to confirm, during the former Kan administration, Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa and then Prime Minister Kan also clearly stated that they were not considering such measures. Is it correct to say that the current administration shares the same stance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Yes. We are not considering the idea of implementing a special measures law now or in the future.


REPORTER:I have a question about the acceptance of Thai workers, which you mentioned in your opening statement. At present, do you know the number of workers who will be accepted and so on?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:We are still actually in the preliminary stage of soliciting the wishes of the respective people in Thailand. We have indeed listened to a variety of opinions, and we currently anticipate that a sizable number will be accepted. As to the length, we are currently thinking along the lines of six months. As of today, I have been told and several thousands of workers from around 30 companies. However, this is uncertain. It depends on how many actually apply.

REPORTER:Was this request made to the Japanese Government by the Thai Government? Or was this request made by the private sector?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe METI will be able to give you more details on this matter. This measure was strongly requested by Japanese private sector companies.

REPORTER:I have another question about this issue regarding Thailand. Is this something that is going to be realized quickly, in a matter of as soon as a few days from now? Also, is there any precedent for accepting people in this way involving emergency visas due to a natural disaster?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Since now operations (in Thailand) have been stopped and the supply chain has been halted, today I asked the relevant ministers to respond to the situation as quickly as possible. I asked them to take prompt action. Also, I believe it can be said that this measure is an extremely ad hoc unprecedented measure. As to whether there is any precedent, I am not quite sure -- that is something I need to look up. However, I believe it can be said that this is an extremely ad hoc and unprecedented measure.

REPORTER:Regarding the reason for the measure, is it indeed because many Japanese companies are in Thailand and the disaster is having an impact on both Thailand and Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As I said in my opening statement a moment ago, this measure is being taken not merely for Japanese companies but also in light of the fact that the flooding is having a major impact on the supply chain in Asia as a whole.


REPORTER:I would like to confirm something with regard to cyber attacks. The other day, you described that the website of the Prime Minister's Office was a target of a cyber attack in September of last year. Have any new cases of cyber attacks against the Cabinet Secretariat or relevant organizations or companies been found since then?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The cyber attack I mentioned the other day was about the cyber attack against the Cabinet Secretariat. Regarding the other ministries and agencies, questions were raised about the respective organizations and I believe they have some cases targeted by cyber attacks.

REPORTER:Also, what does the Cabinet Secretariat intend to do to defend itself?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Each bureau of the Cabinet Secretariat is now taking high level security measures both for its information system and its operations in accordance with the uniform criteria for government organizations. In addition, with regard to staff education, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has established a uniform training program on information systems, and a training program on targeted email attacks is expected to be held soon for about 60,000 people from government agencies, including the Cabinet Secretariat.

REPORTER:Concerning Thailand, this is getting technical, but if the Government's measure is targeted at Thai workers of companies, will non-Thai workers be covered in the measure if there are such persons?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:For now, the measure is for Thai people, for Thai workers working at Japanese companies in Thailand.


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