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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, January 12, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: Today in the Government and Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leaders' meeting, Prime Minister Noda announced that he would be reshuffling his Cabinet. Could you tell us of the reasons and purposes for reshuffling the Cabinet at this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Since last year Prime Minister Noda has continued to emphasize three major themes for his Cabinet, which are themes that it is imperative for any cabinet to tackle. In addition the theme of comprehensive reform of the social security and tax systems is something that must be addressed with unwavering resolve. Given the upcoming ordinary session of the Diet, the Cabinet reshuffle is therefore being implemented to bolster the structures of the Government and to ensure that all ministers share a joint resolve and determination.

REPORTER: Do you believe that as a part of bolstering structures, the comprehensive reform of the social security and tax systems will become a major item?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Naturally, as we go forward in the New Year the three major themes as set out by the Prime Minister will continue to be extremely important and concrete challenges, namely full-fledged reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake and also decontamination operations, health management and compensation with regard to Fukushima. Furthermore, given the state of the global economy, the crisis in Europe and sovereign risk, further efforts will be required for the Japanese economy and to extricate the country from a deflationary economic curve. In addition, the comprehensive reform of the social security and tax systems is required, and I believe that the Prime Minister considers that a concerted and robust structure will be required for this purpose.


REPORTER: With regard to economic sanctions on Iran, in a press conference following his meeting with Treasury Secretary Geithner of the United States, Minister of Finance Azumi made a comment concerning the reduction of imports of crude oil from Iran. However, in the press sheet issued following the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mr. Geithner there was no particular mention of a reduction in imports. Are we to understand that the reduction in imports announced by Minister Azumi is a Government policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Was the comment by Minister Azumi in the press sheet?

REPORTER: No, it was made in his press conference.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yes, I see, in his press conference. I believe the comment referred to measures to reduce the share of imports from Iran at the earliest possible stage. However, in the meeting between Mr. Geithner and the Prime Minister, and as I stated in this morning's press conference, this is an issue not only concerning Japan's transactions with Iran, but also one where there are concerns that a surge in the price of crude oil could impact the global economy, and for this reason it is necessary for Japan and the United States to cooperate closely to minimize such an impact. As I stated this morning, there are various measures to this issue, not merely a single response. This is an issue that the Government is currently giving due consideration.

REPORTER: So does this mean that the comments made by Minister of Finance Azumi are not yet confirmed as Government policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yes, that is the case. His comments represent one out of a number of different opinions.


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