Monday, May 21, 2012 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
- Restarting operations at nuclear power stations (gaining understanding of the Kansai region for restarting Oi Nuclear Power Station)
REPORTER: At the weekend Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito and Minister of State for the Nuclear Power Policy and Administration Hosono attended a meeting of the Union of Kansai Governments, where they provided explanations. I believe that you will have been provided with a report about this meeting. Do you consider that the Government is gradually gaining the understanding of the Kansai region concerning the restarting of operations at the nuclear power stations?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: To give you the facts of this matter, it is the case that on May 19, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito and Minister Hosono provided explanations to a committee of the Union of Kansai Governments, concerning the background to decisions made with regard to the restarting of operations at the Unit 3 and 4 reactors of Oi Nuclear Power Station. The various prefectural governors and leaders of municipal governments provided their opinions, which were duly taken on board by the Government. Based on these opinions and the developments in Fukui Prefecture and Oi Town, the Government will make a decision concerning the restarting of operations at the Unit 3 and 4 reactors of Oi Nuclear Power Station. Responsibility for the decision will be taken by the Four Ministers on the Issue of Nuclear Power Stations, which is under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
REPORTER: On a related note, do you consider that following this explanation over the weekend, that the Government has completed its procedures to explain the situation to local governments, or will further opportunities to provide explanations be sought?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: There are press reports that the Union of Kansai Governments will make a further request, but at the moment no such request has been received. At such a time the Government will naturally provide responses and therefore the process cannot be judged to have been concluded.
REPORTER: I believe that Mayor Hashimoto of Osaka mentioned a proposal to restart the Unit 3 and 4 reactors during the peak summer period only. What is the Government's response to this proposal?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I hear that the mayor of Osaka proposed temporary restarting of operations at the nuclear power stations. The Government confirmed that our highest priority is to confirm and ensure the safety of the power stations and that a decision has been made regarding the necessity to restart operations. There are factors such as the stringent power supply and demand situation, and also the fact that if all nuclear power stations, which provided 30 percent of power to the Kansai region, remain suspended, it would lead to an outflow of national income due to vastly increased purchases of liquid natural gas (LNG). This rise in fuel costs would result in the necessity to raise power tariffs, having a very real and significant impact on the Japanese economy and people's day-to-day lives. It was with these factors in mind that the decision was made. Accordingly, a temporary restarting of operations that only considers the stringent supply and demand situation is not a scenario that we are contemplating.