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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: Around now the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture is issuing a declaration urging residents to return to their homes in the village. This is the first declaration of its kind by a local government that had been designated as one of the evacuation zones and comes amid concerns by some residents that decontamination operations have not been sufficiently implemented. What is the Government's view of this declaration and does the Government believe that residents can return safely to their homes, considering that the designation of part of the village as an evacuation-prepared area in case of emergency was lifted in September last year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware that at around this time the declaration calling on residents to return home is being issued. I hear that after the announcement at the end of September last year that the designation of evacuation-prepared areas in case of emergency was to be lifted, various efforts have been progressed in the village of Kawauchi. These include efforts to restore the living environment, including administrative functions and infrastructure, as well as the decontamination of schools and other facilities, and proceeding with talks and discussions with local residents. I am aware that the declaration being issued today is an important first step towards achieving the return of residents to their homes, and the Government will continue to provide active support to the efforts being implemented by Kawauchi village. I hear that most of the area in question is generally under the annual radiation dose of 20 mSv. However, decontamination operation will of course continue to be required and a decontamination schedule is expected to begin on a full scale in March or April this year. The Government seeks to support and assist the ongoing efforts in this regard.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the issue of the gas fields in the East China Sea. NHK has confirmed with aerial pictures that flames are rising from the drilling facility in the gas field that is the subject of consultations on joint development between the Japanese and Chinese governments. The sea in the vicinity of this facility has been stained brown for some time and this has prompted repeated concerns that China could be engaging in unilateral development of the gas field. Given that flames have been confirmed as emanating from the facility, what is the Government's view of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Which gas field are you referring to?

REPORTER: The Kashi gas field, that is subject to joint development.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government is aware that in the seas to the west of the central demarcation line there are activities that indicate a possibility that China is engaging independently in resource development. In response to these activities a protest or an approach has already been made to the Chinese government, stating the Japanese Government's stance that unilateral development cannot be sanctioned given a situation in which border demarcations have yet to be agreed. The governments of Japan and China have agreed to engage in concrete cooperation in the East China Sea on the basis that it is a "Sea of peace, cooperation and friendship." It is therefore regrettable that a situation has arisen which required an approach to be made by the Japanese Government, and which goes against the spirit of cooperation in the East China Sea. I am not aware of the details of the images taken by NHK, however, if it emerges that activities are actually being implemented there, it will require a further protest and approach by the Japanese Government concerning such unilateral activities.


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