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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, April 6, 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 like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved nine general and other measures and also the promulgation of a law, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement concerning the Diplomatic Bluebook 2012. Minister Masaharu Nakagawa made a statement concerning the holding of the Spring 2012 National Traffic Safety Campaign and the "Zero Traffic Accident Fatality Day." Minister Jin Matsubara made a statement concerning the holding of the Spring 2012 Traffic Safety Campaign. The Minister of Finance made a statement concerning the passage of the FY2012 budget, and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made a statement concerning the temporary acting Minister while the Minister in charge is on an overseas visit.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Tatsuo Kawabata made a statement concerning the abolition of ministerial branch offices in principle. The Minister of Finance made a statement concerning a budget implementation survey, among other matters.

I have an announcement regarding personnel affairs, about the personnel who will be succeeding the four people, the three Senior Vice Ministers and one Parliamentary Secretary, who resigned the day before yesterday on April 4. It was decided at today's Cabinet meeting that effective today, House of Representatives member Atsushi Ohshima will be appointed to succeed Senior Vice Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Toru Kikawada, House of Representatives member Miho Takai to succeed Senior Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yuko Mori, House of Representatives member Chinami Nishimura to succeed Senior Vice Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Yoshio Maki, and House of Councillors member Ken Kagaya to succeed Parliamentary Secretary of Internal Affairs and Communications Ryo Shuhama. The attestation ceremony of the Senior Vice Ministers at the Imperial Palace is scheduled to be held at 3:15pm today, and the letter of assignment for the Parliamentary Secretary is scheduled to be given at 4:20pm today.


  • The comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems
  • Restarting of operations at nuclear power stations (new standards)
  • North Korea (possible missile launch)
  • Meeting with the Chief Cabinet Secretary and Senator Jim Webb of the U.S.


REPORTER: After the Cabinet meeting, I believe a meeting related to the comprehensive reform was convened among the relevant ministers. May I ask you to brief us on the exchanges which took place during that meeting or on the decisions which were made if any?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The contents, the details, will be announced at this afternoon's press conference by Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada. However, let me just give you the main points. Based on the recent Cabinet decision regarding the "simple benefits measures" and "comprehensive measures on the redistribution of tax exemption via the allocation of benefits," which sets out that these measures shall be considered under the five relevant ministers, a meeting among the five relevant ministers was held following the Cabinet meeting today. And it was confirmed that a working team comprised of Senior Vice Minister- and Parliamentary Secretary-level members will be established, among other matters.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations. At yesterday's press conference, I believe you said that obtaining local consent is not required under legal and other frameworks. Does this mean that even if there is opposition from areas with nuclear power station, nuclear power stations may be operated by political judgment? Can you confirm this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This will be explained carefully moving forward. Naturally, the Government's stance to seek the understanding of the communities remains unchanged. What I mentioned yesterday was that no certificate of consent or consent has ever been required legally, and therefore, I was stating the facts.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Yesterday, you said that the Government will determine whether consent has been obtained, whether understanding has been obtained. As to the criteria for determining the Government's obtaining of understanding, on what basis will it determine that understanding has been obtained?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: An important element is that first, the nuclear power station fully complies with the safety standards, the outline of which was presented yesterday. Going forward, in the case of Oi Nuclear Power Station, the Government will be verifying whether it is properly in line with the standards. If it is subsequently found that the nuclear power station is squarely in line, this will then be explained in detail also to the communities and their understanding will be sought. This is the stance with which the Government will be moving forward. Ultimately, however, I believe the process will be such that the relevant ministers, the four ministers, will be making the final consideration, and furthermore, that the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry will be giving the final approval.


REPORTER: With regard to this work of verifying  whether Oi Nuclear Power Station is in line with the standards that you mentioned a moment ago, will this work also be done next week onwards at another meeting of the relevant ministers?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This work will be further undertaken tonight as well, at which time a timetable will be decided, including whether it will be next week and onwards. Of course, the standards that were presented yesterday and will be confirmed today are still general standards, and in the future we will of course need to verify whether the nuclear power station is in line with the specific standards. And then I believe the four ministers will also be confirming this.

REPORTER: Also, I have a question regarding the third standard that was newly presented. While the request from municipalities to the Government was for the Government to establish safety standards proactively, this standard requires the nuclear operator to submit an independent plan. With the nuclear operator being asked to submit the plan, there are already many questions being raised about how much collateral the Government can provide. Regarding the third standard, how will the Government be involved in the plan that is to be submitted by the nuclear operator?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government is also involved in ensuring that the plan is fully executed based on the third standard. However, at the very least the fundamental elements should all be cleared in the first and second standards. So far, the Government has set out safety assessments, so-called primary assessment and secondary assessment of stress tests. I believe whether the primary assessment will be cleared by the new first and second standards should be examined by actually applying them.


REPORTER: Regarding the third safety standard, will the Government also be fully supervising rather than just leaving it up to the nuclear operator?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will be giving full guidance, management, and supervision.


REPORTER: Regarding North Korea's missile launch that is expected next week, unlike in the past North Korea has said that it will launch the missile to the south, in the direction of the Philippines. What is the current analysis of the Japanese Government regarding the direction?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The analysis is ongoing, and we still do not know if that is indeed the case. That is what has been announced. I have nothing to report here right now regarding the results of the analysis.


REPORTER: I understand that Senator Jim Webb of the United States (U.S.) visited you today. Can you tell us what exchanges took place regarding the Futenma issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It was a 20-minute meeting with interpreters, so very short. Your question a moment ago only mentioned the Futenma issue. On this, we had a brief exchange. I stated that it was the position of both the Japanese and U.S. Governments to make progress on the relocation of Futenma in accordance with the bilateral agreements reached to date. And Senator Webb said that although he would like to support the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance based on his knowledge and position, it is not his intention to intervene and interfere with the ongoing efforts between the two governments. That was basically all that was said.


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