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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would first like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved one general measure, and also the promulgation of cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry made a statement concerning the implementation of the Economic Census for Business Activity for FY2012. The Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement concerning personnel affairs relating to the heads of independent administrative agencies. The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism made a statement concerning a Senior Vice Minister who will assist the work of the minister tasked with ocean policy.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry made a statement concerning his visit to India, Thailand and Myanmar.

Next, I would like to report on personnel matters at the Cabinet Office that were approved by the Cabinet today. As of January 17, it has been decided that Mr. Motomi Inoue, the Director General of the Equipment Procurement and Construction Office of the Ministry of Defense will be appointed to the position of Director General for Okinawa Affairs of the Cabinet Office.

Next, I have a report concerning the Ministerial Council on Monthly Economic Report and other related issues that was held today after the Cabinet meeting. With regard to the current state of the Japanese economy, the overall judgment on the state of the economy remains the same as the previous month, namely that the economy is continuing to pick up gradually while difficulties remain due to the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake. With regard to the prospects for the economy, while it is expected that the economy will continue to pick up gradually, caution is required as there are downside risks for the Japanese economy, stemming from further slowing down of less resilient overseas economies, including the unease the government debt crisis in Europe is causing in the financial system and the impact it is having on the financial and capital markets. For details, please direct your questions to officials in charge of Economic Research of the Cabinet Office.



REPORTER: This question is with regard to your opening statement. January 17 is a very significant day in Japanese history, as it marks the death of over 6,000 people. I was rather surprised that you did not mention this at the beginning of your press conference today. Do you not have any words of remembrance that you would like to extend on this occasion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Well, all right. I will briefly comment on that issue. I, myself, am actually a Diet member from Osaka. The earthquake struck in 1995, right after I was elected. Even for myself the disaster caused a great deal of - 17 years have already passed since then, which makes today, January 17, the 17th anniversary of when the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, a disaster of unprecedented damage, took the lives of more than 6,400 people. I would like to again express my sincerest condolences to those that lost their lives in this earthquake. Thanks to the exhausting efforts of local residents, local governments, and other related parties, this area has been able to achieve dramatic reconstruction over the past 17 years. At the same time, however, it is still necessary to pay attention to  other issues, such as awareness of the affected elderly population and response for creating a more vibrant city. Personally, I have been involved in efforts by a private sector organization called ASHINAGA. This organization constructed the "Rainbow House" in Kobe as a psychosocial care initiative for children. The children from that house must already be high school or university students - the children born after that are already high school students. The organization conducts private sector activities that promote psychosocial care for such children. Japan must treat the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the recent Great East Japan Earthquake as valuable lessons, exploiting those lessons from every possible angle in addressing future disaster prevention countermeasures. In order to fully prepare against future large-scale earthquakes and other natural disasters, the Government of Japan carries out earnest considerations, including ongoing meetings by the Council on Disaster Countermeasures Promotion. We will exert every effort to ensure the continual promotion of comprehensive disaster prevention measures and towards realizing a society where all citizens can live in peace.

REPORTER: Yesterday, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology revealed that, directly following the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, they provided the United States military with the results of a provisional calculation carried out by SPEEDI through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Residents were only provided that information nine days later. This means that residents were subjected to unnecessary radiation for a total of nine days. Please comment on your understanding of this situation.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Recently, an interim report was released by the Investigation and Verification Committee. The report pointed out that the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) did not have the idea of spreading SPEEDI information. Furthermore, according to the investigation conducted, I believe the report also noted that the information was provided to the U.S. military in response to a request. This is still an interim report; however, the related ministries have acknowledged the various points made in the report to an adequate degree within the context of an interim report and are in the process of verifying the information. Ultimately, various response and improvement measures will have to be produced in light of the results of the investigation report.


REPORTER: Concerning the transfer of the U.S. forces in Okinawa, certain news sources reported yesterday that in a meeting between the Prime Minister and acting representative of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)'s Okinawa chapter, Shokichi Kina, the Prime Minister commented that there was room to consider the proposal to integrate functions at Kadena Air Base as one option. Please comment on the authenticity of these reports and what the Government thinks about this proposal.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yesterday, Mr. Kina and others met with the Prime Minister and provided an explanation about the proposal to integrate functions at Kadena Air Base. That is a fact. However, the Prime Minister only heard out the explanation, and did not make any particular comment. Therefore, news such as that the Kadena Air Base integration proposal is an option is simply not true. I hope that at least this much information is properly reported. At any rate, the issue at hand is the relocation of Futenma Air Station. There is no change in the stance of the Cabinet or Government in that we will work to eliminate the danger of Futenma Air Station as quickly as possible in light of the agreements made between Japan and the United States so as to contribute to reducing the burden on Okinawa, which is what we have always said.


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