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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The matter of permission for the establishment of the new universities
  • Coordination for former Prime Minister Mori's visit to Russia
  • Economic situations (indexes of business conditions)

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the approval of the establishment of new universities. During Minister [of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology] Tanaka's press conference this morning, the Minister made reference to a conversation she had with you (Chief Cabinet Secretary). Minister Tanaka said that you commented that "I think that it was a wise decision and I have always held this same view" when she informed you of her decision. Could you please confirm that this is what you said?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As the Chief Cabinet Secretary who is responsible for coordinating ministers with the Cabinet, I communicate with ministers over the phone, however I do not wish to elaborate on any details of those communications.

REPORTER: I understand, however this issue has now affected many people and has become very controversial. Your comments are important as they indicate who gave the approval, or perhaps they indicate who received the report. They also tell us if the Prime Minister's Office is performing double checks, although I am aware that the Minister is able to grant approval. Could you please tell us if you give the green light for the decision to reject the applications for the establishment of the three universities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I will not comment on the details of the conversation. However, as far as I have been informed, during Minister Tanaka's press conference, she expressed her intention to investigate the possibility of establishing a new system that will replace the Council for University Establishment and School Corporation and to review the application for the three universities in line with the updated requirements. Approval to establish universities should be left to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), which is responsible for educational administration. Therefore I believe that matters related to the three universities will be appropriately dealt with by the Ministry.

REPORTER: I understand that MEXT should be responsible for dealing with this matter, however what is your view on the fact that despite receiving a report from the Minister, the Prime Minister's Office was unable to perform double checks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: You have mentioned "double checks" a few times, however since when has the Prime Minister's Office had that responsibility? Of course Cabinet is to work as one in administering the Government, however each authorized staff member is also responsible for decisions within the scope of his or her responsibilities within the given ministry.

REPORTER: In relation to this matter, the opposition, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and other minor parties said that Prime Minister Noda should take responsibility for appointing Minister Tanaka. How do you view these comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I cannot see any responsibility that needs to be taken. I believe that MEXT will continue to appropriately deal with the matter of the approval of the three universities.

REPORTER: On the same topic, I will not ask about the details of the conversation, but during this morning's press conference you made a comment to the effect that you did not give approval [to the decision to reject the applicants], however I believe that Minister Tanaka believes that she has been given approval. There seems to be some contradiction. Do you still maintain that you didn't give approval?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is clear to me what was said but I do not wish to share the details of that conversation.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a separate topic about the Russian Federation. It has been reported that former Prime Minister Mori will visit Russia and meet with President Vladimir Putin. Could you share with us how the scheduling is progressing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government is currently arranging a schedule so that former Prime Minister Mori can visit Russia at an appropriate time.

REPORTER: I believe that a visit by the Prime Minister is being arranged for sometime in December. Am I correct to understand that the visit by former Prime Minister Mori is being arranged prior to that in, for example, November, by the end of this month?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government's official answer to the question is that scheduling is currently being arranged.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a different topic. The Cabinet Office earlier released an diffusion index of business conditions (abridged) and revised downward the basic assessment stating "signaling a possible turning point." Provisionally, this indicates that the economy is beginning to slow. What is the Government's opinion on the current state of the economy and does the Government believe that economic measures should be taken?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Although I am not certain that the official index of business conditions has been released, I believe that it is unlikely that the index of business conditions will be upwardly revised. This comes after three consecutive months of negative Monthly Economic Report results. In light of this, on October 17 the Prime Minister provided instructions to act on the most pending issues using means immediately available prior to the opening of the extraordinary Diet session and therefore decided to utilize Government reserves. Furthermore, the Prime Minister also instructed that discussions on the second round of economic measures are to take place before the end of November. The Government is determined to seamlessly implement economic measures.

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