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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, August 17, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

  • An overview of the Cabinet meeting
  • The reclassification standards for the FY 2013 budget requests
  • The 8th meeting of the Headquarters for Administrative Reform Implementation
  • A ministerial meeting on the illegal landing on the Senkaku Islands
  • Japan-ROK relations (the Takeshima issue)
  • Presentation of a certificate of appreciation by the Prime Minister to the Japanese National Team of the London Olympics

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, I would like to provide an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 24 general and other measures, as well as the promulgation of laws and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Prime Minister Noda made a statement concerning the reclassification standards for FY2013 budget requests. The Minister of Finance also made a statement on the same matter. Deputy Prime Minister Okada made a statement concerning the requests for personnel quotas in FY2013. The Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement about reflecting the results of policy evaluation in FY2013 budget requests, local government finance in relation to the reclassification standards for the FY2013 budget requests, as well as matters related to local tax with regard to the guidelines on demands for tax reforms for FY2013. Minister Furukawa made a statement concerning the economic trends in FY2012, namely the Cabinet Office's mid-year estimates. I made a statement concerning acting Ministers while Ministers in charge are away on an overseas visit.

This meeting also approved the standards for the reclassification of budget requests for the FY2013 budget. These reclassification standards take into consideration the Strategy for Rebirth of Japan, and place a complete focus on three priority areas centered on "green," including "life" and "forestry and fishery." It has become possible to make significant requests on these priority areas. To that end, and because there is a need to conduct a thorough review of the overall budget, in tandem with taking thorough steps to eliminate situations in which multiple government organizations handle the same duties, efforts are underway toward further and effective coordination with regulation reforms and other tasks. Going forward, under these policies, it is hoped that each ministry and agency will proceed with their work with a view toward budget requests. Please inquire with the Minister of Finance at the Ministry of Finance for details.

Next, the eighth meeting of the Headquarters for Administrative Reform Implementation was held after the Cabinet meeting today. At this session, Deputy Prime Minister Okada provided a report and request for efforts on recommendations for the Advisory Committee on Administrative Reform, and faithful reflection of the results of the review on administrative business in the budget requests. Furthermore, the Headquarters approved the structure for promoting the governmental CIO system. At the same time, a report was made on the FY2012 follow-up results on the "Basic Policy for the Review of Administration and Business of Independent Administrative Institutions." The Headquarters also approved items that require improvements, or items that have not been concluded although the deadline for implementation has passed. Deputy Prime Minister Okada will explain the details at the press conference scheduled for this afternoon.

Next, a ministerial meeting on the illegal landing on the Senkaku Islands was held after the Cabinet meeting. The ministers concerned gathered today to share information on the incident and affirm the measures to be taken going forward. In his opening statement, Prime Minister Noda expressed his regrets at the intrusion into Japanese territorial waters and the illegal landing on Uotsuri Island. Thereafter, the ministers concerned received instructions to work closely together to respond to this incident while maintaining a sense of tension. At the meeting, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management provided an overview of the basic response measures shared during the ministerial meeting as well as a summary of this incident, and the ministers concerned affirmed the future measures and outlook.

Next, I would like to talk about the response measures toward President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak's visit to Takeshima. On August 10, the President visited Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture. The Japanese Government places great importance on Japan-ROK relations. Despite the presence of difficult issues between Japan and the Republic of Korea, including the Takeshima issue, from a comprehensive point of view, the Government has put effort into building up a future-oriented, multilayered Japan-ROK relationship. However, in recent years, the ROK Government has made advancements in the construction of facilities on Takeshima, and key personnel from the ROK Government have made frequent visits to Takeshima. Finally, President Lee Myung-bak, the head of state of the country, visited Takeshima on August 10. These actions by the ROK Government have hurt the national sentiments of the Japanese people, and left a negative impact on Japan-ROK relations. It is clear that Takeshima is an inherent part of Japan's territory, in the light of historical facts and based upon international law. The visit by President Lee Myung-bak to Takeshima shows even more clearly that Takeshima represents a territorial issue between Japan and the Republic of Korea, and that territorial disputes have historically taken place between the two countries. The Japanese Government acknowledges the territorial issue relating to Takeshima as a serious problem for Japan's sovereignty, and intends to respond to the issue with firm measures. As such, with regard to the Takeshima issue, the Government will first take the following measures. First, we will propose the ROK Government to institute proceedings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by a special agreement, and to request conciliation based on the Exchange of Notes Concerning Settlement of Dispute between Japan and the ROK. This is aimed at achieving a calm, fair, and amicable resolution of the Takeshima issue based on international law. With regard to the ICJ, while the Japanese Government has presented similar proposals in the past that have been rejected by the ROK Government, we strongly request the ROK Government to accept the  proposal by the Japanese Government if the Republic of the Korea believes it has justifiable territorial rights  over Takeshima. We are aware that the ROK Government has advocated the concept of "Global Korea," and also make this request in view of the Republic of Korea as an important member of the United Nations (UN) that supports the importance of the rule of law in international society. Furthermore, the Japanese Government will soon hold ministerial meetings on the Takeshima issue with the aim of engaging the entire Government in tackling the issue, and will take prompt steps toward making preparations for strengthening this structure in the future. In the areas that involve the private sector, there are also plans to coordinate efforts aimed at supporting activities such as investigations and research on the Takeshima issue, as well as raising public awareness on the issue. Measures pertaining to President Lee's visit to Takeshima are not necessarily limited to the measures that I have just described. We will continue to review measures in response to actions taken by the Republic of Korea, and the Japanese Government aims to continue making the appropriate decisions, including on further measures to be taken, while taking into account future actions of the Republic of Korea. While the recent visit by President Lee to Takeshima is extremely regrettable, the Japanese Government will continue to put effort into building a future-oriented, multilayered Japan-ROK relationship from a comprehensive point of view. It is our earnest hope that the ROK Government will respond in good faith to the Japan Government's spirit of neighborly friendship.

Finally, I would like to present a cirtificate of appreciation to the Japanese National Team of the London Olympics. The Prime Minister will present a certificate of appreciation to the Japanese National Team of the London Olympics, who have touched the people of Japan deeply and given them courage. He will also present commemorative gifts to the athletes who received medals and broke their personal records. The presentation ceremony is scheduled to be held on Monday, August 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Prime Minister's Office. Please inquire at the Cabinet Affairs Office for details.


  • The Senkaku Islands
  • The Takeshima Issue
  • Minister Furukawa's statement about energy policy

REPORTER: I'd like to ask a question regarding the Senkaku Islands. In the incident involving the collision of a fishing vessel the year before last, the crew members were arrested and detained, but were released without charge. The Government at the time took the position that the decision was the responsibility of the Public Prosecutors Office. Will this matter once again be left to be dealt with by the Public Prosecutors Office, and will there be no political judgment?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, the collision of the Chinese fishing vessel two years ago and this incident are separate situations. Therefore I believe that it is not appropriate to discuss these two incidents on the same terms. It was reported at today's ministerial meeting that with regard to the illegal landing, the Prime Minister's Office was kept informed of each development, and the Prime Minister was consulted and gave the final go ahead before the relevant authorities responded. It was also confirmed at today's ministerial meeting that this was the process.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding Takeshima. Earlier you stated that the Government will also propose conciliation based on the exchange of notes concerning the settlement of dispute between the two countries.  Mr. Gemba, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated that the Government is investigating the possibility of taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), however he did not mention the Japan-ROK exchange of notes when he last spoke on the issue. Could you share with us the reasons for proposing conciliation based on the Japan-ROK exchange of notes?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As you know, there is an exchange of notes concerning the settlement of disputes between Japan and the Republic of Korea. Unless otherwise agreed on in advance, the two governments are to seek to settle disputes through diplomatic routes. In cases where disputes cannot be settled in this manner, the governments are to attempt to achieve resolution through conciliation as per the procedures agreed by the two countries. These territorial disputes over Takeshima have existed since before the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and the Republic of Korea. Judging from the background of the development of this exchange of notes, it is obvious that the two countries were fully aware that the Takeshima issue was covered by the exchange of notes. This is why we have decided to make use of this exchange of notes in addition to the proposal of referring the matter to the ICJ, although we do not yet know what the conciliation process would actually involve. It was not mentioned earlier because I am only announcing it today.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding energy issues. When Minister Furukawa visited Fukushima yesterday, he stated that he would like to see the realization of a society without nuclear power plants. How is this comment from Minister Furukawa, who is also the chairperson of the Energy and Environment Council, likely to affect Government energy and environment discussions and their compilation as policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The minister said that he would like to see the realization of a society that does not depend on nuclear energy, where citizens need not worry. I gather that you are asking if the comment was an expression of the Government's intent to pursue zero nuclear dependency. This is not the case, what the minister meant was that he aspires to build a structure that will see an eventual reduction in nuclear power dependency and realize a society that does not rely on nuclear energy while duly considering the many differing thoughts and opinions on the issue. The foundation of the Government's future energy policy is to reduce our dependence on nuclear power. The direction toward reducing our dependence on nuclear power  in the mid- to long-term is in line with governmental policy. This is how we understood the comments, but they were his comments after all. I would like to add, in regard to energy mix by 2030, that we have proposed three dependency options and are in the process of discussing these options through national debate. Moving forward, this national debate will undergo review, and as the Government, we would like to reach decision as soon as possible.


REPORTER: I believe that it is highly probable that we will see the issue of landings on the Senkaku Islands is more and more escalated. The entire Government is now involved in the Takeshima issue and you also mentioned your intent to hold a ministerial meeting. Though I believe that the Senkaku Islands is a different situation as it is not a territorial issue, I would like to ask if the Government intends to engage in discussions, with the involvement of cabinet members, in the interest of preventing the recurrence of visits and enhancing the effective control of the islands. I believe that the Government once expressed the possibility of nationalizing the islands, and I would like to ask if the Government believes that the necessity of nationalization has been increased due to this latest incident.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, at the end of the meeting today, we confirmed that in the event of a similar situation once again occurring on the Senkaku Islands, we will hold a similar ministerial meeting to share information and confirm the policy with regard to our response. Secondly, with regard to the possibility of nationalization, I can only give you the same response as before, but the Government is in communication with Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the land owner. In the interests of maintaining peaceful and stable control over the Senkaku Islands above all else, the Government is in contact with these parties and is in the process of making a decision on the matter holistically.


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