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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, August 21, 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 holding of the Ministerial Meeting on the Territorial Issue of Takeshima
  • The establishment of a Ministerial Committee for the System to Nurture the Legal Profession

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Firstly, I would like to give you an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved five general measures and also included some personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers; Prime Minister Noda and myself each made statements concerning our efforts to assist the Ministerial Committee for the System to Nurture the Legal Profession. The Minister of Justice also made a statement concerning the Ministry of Justice's efforts to assist the Ministerial Committee for the System to Nurture the Legal Profession.

Prior to the Cabinet meeting, we held a Ministerial Meeting on the Territorial Issue of Takeshima.  In response to the current situation of Takeshima, including the visit by President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea (ROK), we today held our first Ministerial Meeting on the Territorial Issue of Takeshima  at the Prime Minister's Office, which was chaired by Prime Minister Noda. The attendees of today's meeting included the Prime Minister; the Deputy Prime Minister; the Chief Cabinet Secretary; the Minister for Foreign Affairs; the Minister of Finance; the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; and the Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy. During this meeting, we first heard a report from the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the current Takeshima situation. The Minister then continued, and expressed his intent to make an official proposal to 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.  He stated that it was by these means that Japan can present the validity of its position over the island and have the territorial dispute recognized by the international community. Some statements were later made by some of the cabinet members in attendance. At the conclusion of the meeting, Prime Minister Noda stated that Takeshima is an inherent territory of Japan and the visit by ROK Government officials, including President Lee Myung-bak, is extremely regrettable and that Japan must take resolute measures in response, He also expressed his request for the ROK Government to boldly accept the proposal 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.He then called for thorough discussions of the following three items by all relevant ministries and agencies to enable  speedy response through "all Japan" efforts: first, the strengthening of careful preparation for peaceful solutions to the dispute according to international law and of the communication of the Japanese position to other countries; second, the reinforcing of the governmental structure to respond to the territorial issue of Takeshima; third, thorough consideration of possible measures to be taken. Moving forward, we have decided that these ministerial meetings will be held as the development of the Takeshima situation demands it. Attendees will be decided at the time of each meeting.

I would also like to announce the establishment of a Ministerial Committee for the System to Nurture the Legal Profession in order to discuss the modality of the system. Additionally, at the ministerial meeting following the Cabinet meeting, it was confirmed that a review session to hear the opinions of academics and other individuals will be established. Furthermore, it was confirmed that after drawing from the ideas heard at the review session, some form of conclusion will be formed by August 2, 2013. Later today, the Secretariat is planning to give a briefing in relation to the details of this ministerial meeting. Please ask any questions pertaining to that meeting at the briefing.


  • Japan-ROK relations (the Takeshima issue)
  • The death of a female Japanese journalist in Syria
  • Japan's future energy policy


REPORTER: You mentioned that during the meeting (on Takeshima) some ministers made reports, am I right to understand that these reports included future and additional countermeasures? What were the details of these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The reports did not go into as much detail as you suggest, they were mostly supporting the idea of letting the international community know about the situation rather than confining the matter to Japan, taking this opportunity of recent developments including Japan's proposal to refer the issue to the ICJ .

REPORTER: I believe that the Government is now considering countermeasures to take. On a related topic, during the press conference held a few moments ago, Minister of Finance Azumi mentioned the possibility of discontinuing the expansion of the existing currency swap agreement between Japan and the ROK. Did Minister Azumi make mention of this in a report at the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: No, he did not. Minister Azumi did report to us that he was planning to postpone a meeting planned to be held between the Japanese Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance of the ROK, which I believe was planned to be held this weekend on the topic. However, he did not include anything more in his report, and he did not say that he would make any specific decisions today.


REPORTER: As the Chief Cabinet Secretary, how do you view the shuttle diplomacy as a form of summit diplomacy under this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In essence, I believe that the Takeshima issue, or territorial issues in general, are issues to be solved diplomatically. In that sense, I don't believe that we will be closing diplomatic channels. However, for now the three diplomatic occasions [which involve relevant cabinet ministers] will be closed or postponed [including the meeting on the expansion of the currency swap agreement; setting a bilateral meeting with the ROK on the occasion of ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting on August 29 and 30; and the Council on Science and Technology Policy and the policy dialogue with the Korea National Science and Technology Commission which were scheduled to be held on August 30] .

REPORTER: My question pertains to your response a few moments ago; I see that the attendees of today's ministerial meeting include many ministers related to finance and economics. What were the selection criteria?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Today's ministerial meeting was the first one on the issue. We did not have a predetermined list of ministers to be in attendance. The attendees of today's meeting were those who are responsible for ministries that will be required to attend to this matter in some way, and ministers with whom I believed we needed to have a shared understanding to address the Takeshima issue as a nation. Moving forward, these ministerial meetings will be held as the development of the Takeshima situation demands it, and attendees will be determined for each meeting as necessary.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the reinforcing of the government structure to respond to the Takeshima issue. What kind of timeframe are you working to, and exactly what do you have in mind?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This was raised today for the first time by the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet Secretariat will now commence discussions. I can only inform you that we were given this instruction, but I am not in a position to elaborate on details such as when or what it might involve.

REPORTER: Excuse me for changing the subject. With regard to the death of the female Japanese journalist in Syria while she was on a reporting assignment, could you tell us the facts that the Japanese Government has knowledge of?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Reporter Kazutaka Sato and female reporter Mika Yamamoto from The Japan Press, Ltd. had been traveling together with the Free Syrian Army, and had been on assignment at Aleppo in the northern part of Syria. They got caught in gunfire yesterday, in Japan time, and we learnt that the female reporter, Ms. Yamamoto, was killed. We understand that her body has been transported to Kilis in Turkey, a town near the Syrian border. Reporter Sato, who is currently escorting the body, has confirmed the identity of the body. The local Japanese Embassy is now confirming the details. In any case, it is extremely regrettable that a Japanese reporter has been shot and killed by an unidentified person. We strongly condemn the act, and would like to express our deepest condolences to her family.

REPORTER: I would like to raise a question about energy. With regard to the future ratio of nuclear power, under the current status of review, what is the approximate timeframe for the Government to arrive at an actual conclusion? There are some reports that say that the early part of the 2030s is the target period for a nuclear-free Japan. I would like to confirm if these reports are based on fact, and that we are in fact headed in such a direction.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, I do not know how such reports have emerged. As everyone here is aware of, the basic stance now is to reduce our dependence on nuclear power, and it is sure that the goal is to head toward a direction of reducing dependency on nuclear power in the medium-to-long-term. With regard to specific energy policies including dependency on nuclear power - that is, whether it would be zero nuclear dependency, or whether the figure would be 15%, or 20% to 25% - amidst such discussions, we have also received various opinions from the perspective of how to respond to this issue in reality. Starting tomorrow, we will begin to conduct a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative assessment of such opinions from the citizens, through verification meetings. The Government will decide on a strategy in a responsible manner after the verification process. There is no such fact that the discussions have entered into a review process or the Government has decided or is going to decide on one strategy. As to the talk about when the Government would come to a decision and other speculations, I believe that Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Furukawa, who is in charge of the matter, will make an announcement after tomorrow. At the first meeting tomorrow, opinions will be collected from experts on public opinion polls rather than from members of the energy industry, about the aggregation of the survey results from a fair and neutral perspective. This includes issues such as the range of subjects to be verified and an appropriate method of organizing the survey results. The meeting itself will be an open one. The first meeting will be conducted tomorrow, the second one on the following Monday, while the third and subsequent meetings have not yet been scheduled. Through such verification meetings, the various opinions will be summarized and carefully organized while they are being collected and compiled as soon as possible. While we had initially spoken about the timing by August, which is one of the goals we had set, we are not necessarily taking a rigid stance or setting anything in stone.


REPORTER: Could you tell us why the Minister of Defense was not present at the Cabinet meeting today? What are the possibilities that the Minister of Defense would be present at future meetings?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, it is clear that Takeshima is an inherent part of Japanese territory, in light of historical facts and based upon international law, and the territorial issue that has arisen over Takeshima has been acknowledged as a serious problem relating to Japan's sovereignty. The Japanese Government will take a resolute stance in responding to this issue. At the same time, the Japanese Government seeks a calm, fair, peaceful and amicable resolution of the Takeshima issue based on international law, by proposing to institute proceedings before the ICJ by a special agreement, and to request Conciliation based on the Exchange of Notes Concerning Settlement of Dispute between Japan and the ROK. The Cabinet meeting held today involved a discussion of the measures to be taken by the Government, as a whole, from this perspective. As such, only the Ministers concerned were requested to attend the meeting. The Minister of Defense was not asked to attend the meeting because as of this point in time, his presence has not been assessed to be necessary.


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