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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • NISA's re-inspection of Oi and Shika Nuclear Power Stations on their crushed zones within the premises
  • The Senkaku Islands
  • Current situation toward the Japan-EU EPA negotiations
  • A working group for reviewing measures to cope with a major earthquake along the Nankai Trough including its predictability


REPORTER: The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has instructed the re-inspection of Oi and Shika Nuclear Power Stations. With regard to Oi Nuclear Power Station, the Government made a judgment to restart operations on the basis of confirming its safety. I believe a re-inspection which follows this judgment will make people very concerned. I would like to ask two questions. First, what do you personally think about this matter? Secondly, how will the Government be responding to this situation?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe I have given replies to this on a number of occasions in response to questions I have received, including from some time ago. First, regarding Oi Nuclear Power Station, the matter in question is the crushed zone within the premise. There was no indication of an active fault, and several experts expressed the opinion that there was no activity. My understanding is that in order to fully deny that there is activity, experts pointed out that, for example, direct confirmation at the site is necessary just in case. With regard to the crushed zone within the premise of Shika Nuclear Power Station, multiple views were expressed that the fault may be active, and therefore, additional inspection is necessary. NISA is now reviewing the policy of action based on the opinions received from  experts, respectively.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning an issue related to the Senkaku Islands, which is discussed in some news reports. According to the reports, the administration has finalized a policy to establish plan on how to utilize the Senkaku Islands, including the development of a port and the implementation of a resource survey after nationalizing the islands. Can you confirm the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, the reports are not true. The Government is now considering a variety of matters holistically from the viewpoint of continuing to maintain and manage the Senkaku Islands peacefully and stably. The reports that we have finalized a policy to establish a comprehensive utilization plan after the Senkaku Islands are purchased for nationalization are not true at all.

REPORTER: So, at this point in time, you do not have such a plan. However, as long as you have a policy to nationalize the Senkaku Islands, I believe it is natural for the Government to consider how the islands will be utilized after their nationalization. You are saying that you do not have any such plans?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I said a moment ago in relation to nationalization, while you spoke about after purchasing the Senkaku Islands for nationalization, first of all, a variety of considerations are being made regarding nationalization itself, and nationalization has not been decided.


REPORTER: In this morning's Financial Times, it is reported that Europe has decided to go ahead with the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Japan. Has any contact been made with the Japanese Government in this regard? Also, can you explain the views of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe discussions are still yet to take place at the European Commission (EC) - the European Union (EU) equivalent of a Cabinet meeting - on seeking the European Council's approval on the draft negotiating mandate for the Japan-EU economic partnership agreement (EPA). If the negotiating mandate is approved at the EC, then the proposal will be submitted to the EU member countries. The process of seeking the approval of the member countries still remains. If these EU procedures, including the acquisition of the mandate, are settled, then Japan hopes to start negotiations at an early date.

REPORTER: The Cabinet Office will be holding today a meeting of a panel regarding the predictability of a major earthquake along the Nankai Trough, including the Tokai earthquake. Amidst the anticipated difficulties of predicting earthquakes, can you explain the objective of establishing such a panel?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In reviewing the specific disaster prevention measures for earthquakes and tsunamis, the Working Group for Reviewing Measures to Cope with a Major Nankai Trough Earthquake is also studying two legal frameworks: the Act on Special Measures Concerning Countermeasures for Large-Scale Earthquakes; and the Act on Special Measures Concerning Advancement of Countermeasures Against Disasters of Tonankai and Nankai Earthquakes. I believe an issue which will be discussed is whether or not the timing of anticipated major earthquakes can be predicted. However, the understanding is that earthquake predictions are generally extremely difficult to make. There are a variety of debates, including whether the same applies to major earthquakes along the Tokai Trough. Therefore, the Panel is scheduled to hold its first meeting this evening with the purpose of collecting and organizing the present scientific knowledge regarding the predictability of the timing of a major earthquake along the Nankai Trough.


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