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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, January 24, 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 14 general measures. These included the approval of drafts of three policy speeches among which was the "Policy Speech by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to the 180th Session of the Diet," and the fourth supplementary general account budget for fiscal 2011, the fourth special accounts supplementary budget for fiscal 2011, in addition to the budgets for the general account, special accounts and budget relating to government organizations for fiscal 2012. The meeting also approved draft bills, cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement concerning the draft of the Foreign Policy Speech to the 180th Session of the Diet. The Minister of Finance made a statement concerning the draft of the Fiscal Policy Speech to the 180th Session of the Diet. Minister Furukawa made a statement concerning the Fiscal 2012 Economic Outlook and Basic Stance for Economic and Fiscal Management and also on the inspection of the status of progress on the fiscal management strategy for fiscal 2012 and preliminary mid- to long-term calculations. The Minister of Finance also made statements concerning the fourth supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 and the budget for fiscal 2012 as well as on the basic policy for reform of special accounts.

In ministerial discussions after the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Justice and Minister Matsubara made statements concerning the fourth request for the renewal of the surveillance period for the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult.

I have one more item to report. Today from 5:30pm the 28th meeting of the Information Security Policy Council will be held. The results of the deliberations in the study group to enhance public-private sector cooperation are expected to be reported and discussed. This study group was established last year in October at the previous meeting of the Policy Council in order to consider a response to cyber attacks on companies and other entities that handle sensitive government information, which came to light last year. For your information, the results of the meeting will be briefed to the press by the National Information Security Center following the conclusion of the meeting.


REPORTER: Today marks the first day of an ordinary Diet session since the inauguration of the Noda Cabinet. During the 150-day session there are a number of very important draft bills to be deliberated, including the draft bill to increase consumption tax. Can you give us your thoughts and aspirations at the start of the ordinary Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I have said on frequent occasions since the inauguration of the administration of Prime Minister Noda, the largest issue we face is reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake and the fight against   the nuclear power station accident. Another challenge is a Strategy for Rebirth of Japan under the circumstance of the deflationary economy.  A third very important issue for the ordinary Diet session towards the end of the fiscal year is the comprehensive reform of  social security and tax systems. In addition, there are various draft bills outstanding from the previous session of the Diet. Given that the ordinary session of the Diet starts today, I would like to see Diet affairs launched with a sense of urgency as we move to tackle these numerous and extremely important and momentous issues. In addition I would like to see the draft bills that remain outstanding from the previous Diet session passed, for which cross-party consultations will be required. Furthermore a total of 81 new draft bills will be submitted to the Diet and therefore I would like to apply myself to engaging in thorough discussions during the 150 days of the session and ensuring the passage of these various bills.

REPORTER: The European Union (EU) has agreed to impose sanctions on Iran from July, banning all imports of crude oil. How does the Government view this decision and what do you think will be the impact of this decision on Japan-U.S. consultations concerning the issue of sanctions on Iran?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware that on January 23 the EU Foreign Affairs Council decided on the imposition of further measures against Iran. Japan shares a deep sense of concern with the international community over the Iranian nuclear issue. Based on an approach of dialogue and pressure, the Government of Japan will continue to put pressure on Iran and advance cooperation with the international community, seeking to make every effort towards a peaceful and diplomatic solution to this issue. At the same time it is also important to continue to call on Iran to resolve this issue. The EU has used the expression that the "door is open" to dialogue. With regard to the question of Iranian crude oil, as I mentioned yesterday, Japan has reduced its imports of crude oil from Iran by 40 percent over the past five years and plans to continue to reduce imports. The Government of Japan will respond appropriately while continuing to carefully monitor the situation in Iran, the response of the international community and the impact on the Japanese economy and oil markets. Consultations with the United States took place last week and I hear that the next consultations are scheduled for probably around February. In the forum of those consultations Japan will state its stance and confirm the measures that are in place.


In relation to the previous question from Bloomberg concerning Iran, I stated that the next round of consultations with the U.S. would be held in February. I would like to amend my statement to say that the schedule for the next meeting has not yet been confirmed and is still being coordinated. However it is a fact that the next meeting will be held in the not-too-distant future.

REPORTER: With regard to the case in which radioactive cesium falling as precipitation suddenly increased at the beginning of this month in Fukushima City, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) yesterday sought to confirm the cause of this increase. What will be the Government's response to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have seen the press article you mentioned and I was somewhat confused at the content because it is actually the role of the NSC to analyze the causes of such events. In response to a request from NSC, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the body responsible for taking the measurements of cesium, is confirming the figures and comparing them to others recorded in the prefecture. With regard to the change in the amounts of cesium recorded in precipitation, in addition to the possibility of discrepancies in measurements, there is also the possibility that the change was a temporary one, caused by natural phenomena, such as uptake of cesium carried by the wind. Whatever the case, I am aware that the final analysis and evaluation of this matter will be implemented by the NSC.


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