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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, March 5, 2012 (AM)

[Provisional Translation]

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the presidential election in Russia. It would appear that Prime Minister Putin has been elected as president. What is the Government's reaction to this result and what impact do you think it will have on diplomatic relations between Japan and Russia, including with regard to the issue of the Northern Territories?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that there was an announcement by the election commission at approximately 5:00am Japan time today that Prime Minister Putin had received about 64 percent of the vote, and although this is not a report which confirms his election, I believe that it is more or less a certainty. As we move forward, the basic policy of the Japanese Government in diplomatic relations with Russia is to develop cooperative relations in every field in order to construct an appropriate relationship as partners in the Asia-Pacific region, which is currently experiencing changes in the strategic environment. With regard to your question about the Northern Territories, I believe that Prime Minister Putin gave a press interview some days ago, in which he pointed out the importance for Japan-Russia relations of reaching a solution to the Northern Territories issue, and expressing his desire to achieve such a solution. I indicated the Japanese Government's hope that this would be the case. With regard to the content of the issues relating to the Northern Territories, the Japanese Government's stance is to continue to engage in inter-governmental consultations in a calm and measured manner, with a view to finding a solution based on the agreements and documents between Japan and Russia as well as the principles of law and justice.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: The National People's Congress of China has recently convened and the proposed defense budget for fiscal 2012 is being increased by 11.2 percent over the previous year, making a 3.5-fold increase in defense expenditure over a ten-year period. Some people have pointed out that other defense expenditure may not be included in the published budget, meaning that the increase is even larger. What does the Japanese Government think will be the impact on the security environment in East Asia, given China's rapidly increasing defense expenditure?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would like to state the Government's position on this matter. In a press conference the spokesperson for the annual session of the National People's Congress, Mr. Li Zhaoxing, has stated that the defense budget for fiscal 2012 is to rise by 11.2 percent over the previous year to 670.2 billion yuan, or approximately US$101.6 billion. Japan has duly noted that the proportion of the increase in defense expenditure has now been in double digits for two consecutive years and will continue to monitor future trends. It remains the case that in the breakdown of China's defense expenditure there still remain some areas that lack transparency and the Japanese Government believes it to be desirable for China to provide greater transparency with regard to national defense policy and military capacity, including on defense expenditure. The Government of Japan will continue to call on China to improve transparency with regard to its defense policy, through dialogue and exchange in the security field.

REPORTER: I have another question regarding China. I believe that the Government of Japan has announced the naming of 39 outlying islands, including the Senkaku Islands. In response to this, the Government of China has announced that it has given names to 71 islands, including the Senkaku Islands, based on the Chinese Law of Island Protection. In so doing, I think that China has demonstrated a stance that the Senkaku Islands are considered to fall under the scope of the Law of Island Protection. What is the Government's view of this matter and what response do you intend to make?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Japan's constantly held basic position is that, there is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based on international law, and they are under the valid control of Japan. Therefore, there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be solved concerning the Senkaku Islands. The statement made by a spokesperson in China that you have mentioned is a unilateral statement and one that the Japanese Government does not in any way accept. Whatever the case, the fact remains unchanged that Japan-China relations are of the greatest importance for Japan, and from a broad perspective there is no change to our intention to promote further specific cooperation in a wide range of fields and deepen our mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. It is not at all desirable for Japan that circumstances surrounding the Senkaku Islands hinder the stable development of Japan-China relations.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Yesterday in an appearance on a program of a private television broadcaster, the Prime Minister stated that the Government is giving consideration to providing financial support to local governments willing to accept debris for processing disposal from the disaster-affected areas. Could you tell us if any specific considerations are being given to this issue within the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Ministry of the Environment is engaged in specific considerations with regard to this matter. The measures being considered are two-fold. The first is central government financial support for expanded and enhanced measurement of radiation and measurements at waste processing facilities, in addition to which, if a request is made by a recipient local government, the central government will work together with the local government in question to implement radiation measurement. The second measure is that the central government will provide financial support for expenses arising from the construction or expansion of waste disposal facilities in order to process debris from the disaster-affected areas. These are the two measures on which considerations have been initiated. Wide-area disposal of debris is an extremely important challenge and it is through such support measures as I have just mentioned that the Government wishes to facilitate the disposal of debris as soon as possible, which will lead to reconstruction of the disaster-affected regions.

(Abridged)

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