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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The UK Prime Minister's Visit to Japan (security and defense cooperation)
  • Restarting of operations at nuclear power stations
  • Former Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit to Iran
  • Consideration on establishing no-return areas in Fukushima
  • Government's proposal to appoint a new member of the Policy Board of the Bank of Japan

REPORTER: There are reports that Prime Minister Noda and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom (UK), who will be visiting Japan next week, will confirm that they will enter into talks for the joint development of weapons at their summit meeting on April 10. Can you verify the facts and discuss the status of the coordination and any other information?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware of the reports. However, specifically, I believe that the leaders will probably confirm that individual cases will be dealt with through security cooperation with the country/countries involved or by making decisions individually based on the international security environment and other factors. As the UK has stated, the UK, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) can be one possible candidate for Japan to consider this kind of joint effort. With the UK, in other words, it is a fact that Japan is holding discussions on the promotion and strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the areas of security and defense, as both leaders agreed at the Japan-UK summit meeting in November of last year as well. However, due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from responding on Japan's specific exchanges with the UK. I would like to say though that nothing has been finalized.


REPORTER: Regarding a different matter, can you explain whether all four ministers will need to have a unanimous opinion on whether or not to restart operations at nuclear power stations when the final political decision is made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Since this is a meeting among four ministers, a decision will be made through consultations among the politicians. A decision will not be made by majority vote or other such mechanisms. A final decision will be made through consultations among the politicians.


REPORTER: Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will be visiting Iran from April 6 to 9. Does the Government plan to hand former Prime Minister Hatoyama a personal letter of some sort or entrust him with a mission of any kind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is not at all the case that the Government requested this. DPJ Supreme Advisor Hatoyama is in charge of foreign policy at the party, and I understand that House of Councillors member Motohiro Ono, I believe, and others will also be visiting Iran with Mr. Hatoyama. In that sense, I understand that this is a diplomatic activity of the party.


REPORTER: I have a question related to the return of residents who were living near the nuclear power station in Fukushima. Today, there are some reports which state that Minister for Reconstruction Tatsuo Hirano has told the relevant communities that areas will be established which residents will not be able to return to. What is the Government's understanding of the facts? Also, is my understanding correct that this view is shared by the entire Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I responded to this briefly also this morning. My response this morning was that, at the recent meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, Minister Hirano made a statement to the effect that measures should be considered, such as restricting residents from living in the areas for an extended period of time, as well as securing a certain amount of space within these areas. I said that when Minister Hirano met with Fukushima Prefecture Governor Yuhei Sato and the leaders of the eight towns and villages in Futaba yesterday, Minister Hirano explained this discussion. As to the specific measures going forward, these are not matters which the Government can decide unilaterally. It is first important that the Government works together and discusses this closely with the relevant municipalities. The Government believes that this needs to be examined in the context of discussing  the vision for the mid- to long-term reconstruction of the entire town in view of 10 years from now or 20 years from now, the relatively distant future.

REPORTER: Is the understanding then that an important proposal for this will need to be studied by the Government as a whole?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yes, we all take seriously the statement made by Minister Hirano at the meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters.

Concerning the minutes I just mentioned for the four ministers' meeting, what we will be disclosing is a summary of the minutes, strictly speaking, which does not include all statements. We will be creating minutes, but whether to disclose it or not will be judged case-by-case.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a supplementary question in regards to the establishment of the areas to which residents will not be able to return for an extended period of time in Fukushima. I believe so far, the Government's policy has been to establish three areas. If the Government were to establish areas which residents cannot return to, I believe this raises questions about consistency with the Government's declared conclusion of the nuclear accident. What is the Government's view on this at this moment in time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, in terms of the on-site issues of the nuclear power station, at the stage of completing Step 2 in December of last year, when it was declared that the nuclear reactors reached a state of cold shutdown, the Government made an unfailing judgment that it will no longer have to ask residents in the vicinity to evacuate, even in the event of an unforeseen situation at the nuclear reactors. And at the meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters on March 31, Minister Goshi Hosono explained and discussed responses for further increasing peoples' confidence in the mid- to long-term measures moving forward. Minister Hirano also believes that this does not have any impact on the assessments conducted so far on the safety of nuclear reactors as was pointed out a moment ago.

REPORTER: If not the safety of nuclear reactors, on the basis of what points does the Government intend to determine which areas are "no-return" areas?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Is the summary of the meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters not released yet? I believe the overview will be presented in there. If I can just say one of them, it is that, while an increasing number of water tanks are being constructed while circulating the water, from a long-term point of view, it is fully possible that there will gradually not be enough room within the premises. Therefore, the surrounding areas will also be necessary. That was one example.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the proposal which has been submitted to the Diet to appoint economist Mr. Ryutaro Kawano as a member of the Policy Board of the Bank of Japan. There are opinions that the opposition party will oppose this at the meeting of the Committee on Rules and Administration of the House of Councillors today. Does the Government intend to withdraw this personnel affairs proposal?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government presented this personnel affairs proposal on the judgment that Mr. Kawano has a wealth of knowledge on the economic and financial matters  and has broad perspectives, and is therefore, appropriate. The Government will need to continue to make further efforts to obtain agreement.


REPORTER: The Daiichi Nuclear Power Station itself is supposed to be dismantled and decommissioned in about a 40-year time span. If the decommissioning measures move forward, will the residents be able to return to the neighboring areas? Can you discuss the consistency or relationship with the decommissioning process?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: At the meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters as well, as part of his explanations, Minister Hosono expressed the view that a new or a more substantive mid- to long-term roadmap will need to be prepared to further increase peoples' confidence in the mid- to long-term measures. Therefore, I believe mid- to long-term measures will be examined further still in this context.


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