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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, October 28, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER:Following on from yesterday's press conference, I believe that Prime Minister met with Governor Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture, a meeting at which you were also in attendance. When he left the Prime Minister's Office Governor Nakaima noted that discussions had concerned promotion and development measures for Okinawa. Could you tell us what matters the Prime Minister spoke about on behalf of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I have the materials used during the meeting, mentioning the Act on Special Measures concerning the Promotion and Development of Okinawa and the Act for the Promotion of Dezoning and Reutilization of Military Land in Okinawa, which are due to expire at the end of March next year. Naturally, the Government will be resubmitting these acts to the regular session of the Diet next year and in the meeting we received relatively detailed requests and petitions concerning their content. As we head towards the end of this year the Government will seek to engage in considerations, particularly with regard to the subsidies in the form of block grants, concerning which budget requests are currently being received. In terms of the contents of legislation, the governor also noted that the policy on Okinawa being drawn up by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is something that could be readily accepted by Okinawa and that he wanted the Government to follow the policies drawn up by the DPJ. He also noted that DPJ policy on Okinawa had been issued at the time when Mr. Okada was Secretary General of the party and that these policies should be continued under Secretary General Koshiishi. He also submitted a request for DPJ members to visit Okinawa to engage in policy consultations.

REPORTER:Was there an exchange of opinions concerning the issue of United States bases?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:There was no discussion on this issue.

REPORTER:The Prime Minister has just concluded his policy speech, and I believe that in this current session of the Diet the deliberations on the third supplementary budget have incorporated requests for taxation increases. From the stage when the third supplementary budget was in the compilation stages and from the time of the appointment of Prime Minister Noda, the stated aim has been to focus on tri-party agreement and attain consensus prior to submission of the draft budget to the Diet. Ultimately this has not been achieved and the extraordinary session of the Diet has now opened with the Prime Minister's policy speech. What are your views on this current situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The tri-party consultations have been continuing for some time and I have received reports from the chairs of the party Policy Research Councils on these consultations. Due to matter relating to printing, work on compiling the draft bill has already begun, but naturally, as I have stated on a number of occasions to date, there is no change to the Government's stance of responding flexibly and based on the results of tri-party consultations.

REPORTER:Do you have the impression that the process of consultation has not run as smoothly as was first envisaged at the start of the administration of Prime Minister Noda?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:No, rather I believe that consultations are proceeding smoothly and in good order.

REPORTER:This is the second policy speech to be delivered by the Prime Minister. Could I ask for your frank thoughts concerning its content?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The most important themes for this extraordinary session of the Diet are reconstruction efforts and the passage of the third supplementary budget. In comparison to the Prime Minister's first policy speech, the policy speech is slightly shorter in length and is relatively forthright in content. Naturally, therefore, his speech focused on the earthquake and the reconstruction of the Tohoku region, which is why he mentioned Hiraizumi, and it also represented the Government's earnest wish to formulate the third supplementary budget for reconstruction, ensure its passage and approval and put it into implementation as soon as possible.

REPORTER:With regard to the policy speech, the opposition parties have observed that there was little reference to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement or to tax increases. The Prime Minister used the word "resolve" or "preparedness" on frequent occasions in his speech. Some people have suggested that by using the word "preparedness" the Prime Minister is actually avoiding stepping forward to make actual decisions. What are your thoughts on this point?


CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First, regarding consumption tax, this will be considered independently of the third supplementary budget and reconstruction budget. Also, in this sense, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not a matter that depends on some measure being taken at the current session of the Diet. There is no change to the fact that thorough discussions are taking place within the Party. The intention was not to explain whether or not Japan will participate in the negotiations.

REPORTER:I have a question on TPP. While of course TPP is not dependent on the Diet ratifying a treaty or some other measure being taken at the Diet, the party is conducting discussions with the aim of reaching a decision by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. Opposition parties are also calling for intensive deliberations to take place ahead of the APEC meeting. In this context, I believe the Prime Minister could have been a little more forthcoming about the reasons why there needs to be discussions and a conclusion must be reached at an early date. Can you say that the policy speech made a sufficient plea in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As I mentioned a moment ago, what the Prime Minister wants this Diet to focus on the most is the third supplementary reconstruction budget. Of course I'm sure it can be said that there are a number of things which might have been taken up. A major emphasis was placed this time on giving focus to the third supplementary reconstruction budget.


REPORTER:Today, the Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) submitted the findings of the stress test of the Ooi Nuclear Power Station's Reactor No. 3 to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). On this basis, what is the upcoming schedule with regard to Government decisions? In particular, KEPCO has a high dependency on nuclear power during the winter, which is giving rise to concerns about electricity supply and demand. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:At 11:30am today, the findings of the stress test concerning Reactor No. 3 of the Ooi Nuclear Power Station, which had been shut down for regular inspections, were submitted to NISA. First, this document has already been made available on NISA's website. While ensuring transparency in this way, I believe a thorough review will be taking place. Moving forward, in order to draw on global expertise, expert opinions will also be sought at international seminars which are participated by foreign experts, and there is one scheduled to be held in the middle of next month. And I cannot say for sure around when, but after this, as I always say, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) will be confirming. As to what kind of conclusion will be reached at this point, I cannot yet say with certainty. And if the NSC gives its OK, then a political decision will be made as to whether the understanding of the community and the trust of the people have been obtained. Through this process, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry will be making the final decision.

REPORTER:How about your views with regard to the coming winter season?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe an announcement will probably be made next week concerning the severe situation with regard to the coming winter season. However, I believe this and Ooi are not directly related. I do not believe there is any hidden agenda in relation to the coming winter season.


REPORTER:I would like to ask a question about the Council on National Strategy and Policy. The Prime Minister has been making references to the garden city concept in his policy speech and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) presidential election, and I believe this is one of his long-term visions. Did the Prime Minister make any comments about his views on the garden city concept at today's meeting? Also, if not, can you please explain the Prime Minister's views on the garden city concept?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First, at today's meeting, it was agreed that the Energy and Environment Council will become a subcommittee of the Council on National Strategy and Policy. Moving forward, we will be deciding what sort of subcommittees will be established in consultation with everyone. I believe global human resources, the garden city concept, and other issues will be covered by the subcommittees. However, nothing specific was discussed about this today.


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