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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, October 1, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

  • An overview of the first Cabinet meeting after the Cabinet reshuffle

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am Osamu Fujimura, and I have been reappointed to the position of Chief Cabinet Secretary in the third reshuffled Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. I look forward to working with the many reporters who are here today and the reporters who cover the Prime Minister's Office.

I would like to give an overview of the first Cabinet meeting. First, the basic policy was decided, as is shown in the material in front of you. Next, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made a statement concerning the prior designation of Cabinet Ministers who would serve as the acting Prime Minister pursuant to Article 9 of the Cabinet Act. The following Cabinet Ministers will serve as the acting Prime Minister according to the following order of precedence: first is Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada; second is myself, the Chief Cabinet Secretary; third is Minister for National Policy Seiji Maehara; fourth is Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba; and fifth is Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano. With that, the first Cabinet meeting was concluded.


  • The priority issues for the reshuffled Noda Cabinet
  • The bill on special measures for government bonds

REPORTER: The number of Cabinet portfolios has gradually decreased since the inauguration of the first Noda Cabinet. Could you tell us what you consider your role to be in the new Cabinet and what challenges you should take the lead in addressing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The challenges we face and the actions we will be taking are all detailed in the Basic Policy. I have served as Chief Cabinet Secretary since the first Cabinet of Prime Minister Noda and from the time of the first Cabinet the Prime Minister set out three priority challenges, namely the recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, the fight against the nuclear power station accident, and the revitalization of  the Japanese economy. In addition, the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems has also been set as a priority theme. The first three priority challenges remain only half-complete. In that sense, one important task we face is to work to accelerate recovery and reconstruction, the response to the nuclear power station accident and measures to revitalize the economy. Also, although the bills relating to comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems were passed with the cooperation of the opposition parties, based on the three-party agreement, the establishment of a national council for social security reform must be realized within the space of one year, yet the membership of this council has still not been decided. Therefore, as you can appreciate, there are not just issues outstanding with regard to the comprehensive reform, but also many other issues that we must address from now. At the same time, in consideration of the fact that the consumption tax rate will increase, we must also ensure that the economy is placed on a growth trajectory. The third Noda Cabinet faces many issues that are still unfinished and others that must be tackled, and it will be necessary for us to approach the main themes with due seriousness and diligence.


REPORTER: With regard to the bill on special measures for government bonds, the Prime Minister himself noted that unless this bill is passed, Government coffers are likely to be drained and face a severe situation by the end of the year. I assume therefore that the Prime Minister seeks to avoid a situation in which the extraordinary Diet session is not convened, meaning that the bill would also not be passed. Are we to understand that the Government seeks to convene an extraordinary Diet session within the year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I think that I gave you erroneous figures before, but the fact is that the government bonds account for approximately 38 trillion yen, or 41 to 42 percent of budget income. What the Prime Minister was saying, therefore, is that if the tranche of funding from government bonds remains unappropriated we can see before us in the very near future a severe situation when government funds dry up. We must therefore push to achieve the issuance of bonds, and when you consider that the bonds account for 42 percent of budgetary funding, you can naturally make the assumption that an extraordinary Diet session will need to be convened before the end of the year.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister stated that the Cabinet reshuffle was for the purpose of strengthening Cabinet functions. However, the reshuffle has resulted in almost 10 ministers being changed, including ministers responsible for dealing with the declining birth rate and the abduction issue. How these changes would strengthen the Cabinet's functions is somewhat obscure. Given this situation, how does the new Cabinet intend to respond to the expectations of the people?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Each of the outgoing ministers have, to the extent that I have seen for myself, worked with the utmost diligence and commitment at their respective ministries and agencies. The work that has been accomplished by the previous ministers will be continued for the important issues we face, of which the abduction issue is one. It is therefore not the case that because the minister has changed the work will not be able to be accomplished, but rather that the new ministers will make every endeavor to ensure continuity and further forward momentum.


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