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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, November 15, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The start of Japan-North Korea inter-governmental consultations and the abduction issue
  • Japan's energy policy
  • The passing of actress Ms. Mitsuko Mori


REPORTER: There are some press reports that suggest that the Government is negotiating with North Korea to allow Mr. and Mrs. Yokota, the parents of Ms. Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea, to travel to the country if they so desired. What are the facts behind these press reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Such reports entirely misconstrue the facts of the matter. There is absolutely no basis in fact that the Government is engaged in any sort of consultations with North Korea on this matter, either officially or unofficially.

REPORTER: Today marks the 35th anniversary since Ms. Megumi Yokota was abducted by North Korea. Despite this extremely long period of time the current situation is that there are no specific breakthroughs that would point to a resolution. What is the Government's view of this current situation and what response will be made in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As you note, it was on this day, November 15, that Ms. Megumi Yokota was subjected to abduction 35 years ago. The fact that 35 years have now passed is something that we must take with the utmost seriousness. I believe a memorial gathering is being held in Niigata today to which Senior Vice Minister [of Cabinet Office] Shinkun Haku has been dispatched to attend. The Government has continuously stated the aim of achieving the return of Ms. Yokota and other abduction victims as soon as possible. As it happens, the Japan-North Korea inter-governmental consultations start to take place today and tomorrow after a four-year hiatus and the Government renews its resolve to make every effort on behalf of the abduction victims.

REPORTER: On a related note, I think that the fact that reports have surfaced that suggest the Government is negotiating with North Korea to allow Mr. and Mrs. Yokota to visit North Korea will only bring further unease to Mr. and Mrs. Yokota themselves. You have already noted that talk of them going to North Korea would only be used for propaganda purposes and would serve no purpose in advancing the abduction issue. As Minister for the Abduction Issue, what are your thoughts about the rights and wrongs of such a plan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As you note, and in light of the fact that director-general-level consultations are being held between Japan and North Korea from today, it would be preferable that other reports that would only cause a distraction should be avoided. If such reports have been intentionally circulated then that would be regrettable indeed. The Government intends to apply itself to the inter-governmental consultations in a diligent manner.

REPORTER: Do you think that talk of a visit to North Korea is one that could, or should be discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The consultations start from today and I believe that it will be necessary to bring issues to the table for discussion in a proper and formal manner. These formal discussions will start from today.

REPORTER: Can I confirm that in your previous response you stated that a visit to North Korea by Mr. and Mrs. Yokota should be discussed in the course of the formal consultations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I was not speaking about specific issues, but rather stating my expectations that the Japan-North Korea consultations that start today will result in all issues of mutual concern to both countries being brought to the table for discussion. I was not speaking about any specific topic.


REPORTER: The compilation of the Basic Energy Plan is experiencing difficulties and there appears to be a possibility that future administrations may change the policy of moving away from nuclear power. What are your thoughts concerning this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, with regard to your question about whether the compilation process is facing difficulties, yesterday in the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy a report was given on the ways to advance the Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment, which was decided by the Energy and Environment Council. The committee members provided various opinions concerning the way forward for the Basic Energy Plan, and the plan itself will be further considered and advanced by Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano, in consultation with committee Chair Akio Mimura. It is not the case that the process of compilation has stalled.

REPORTER: The actress Ms. Mitsuko Mori, a recipient of the Order of Culture and the People's Honor Award, has passed away. What are your thoughts on her passing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is very sad. Rather than in my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary, but more personally for me and for orphans nationwide, she was truly one of the first supporters of Ashinaga, a Japanese private organization that provides support to orphans, having once said, "Could it be that I am the Antie of "Ashinaga"? Her passing is truly sad and regrettable. Over many years she was always active in many different areas in the world of Japanese performing arts. As a stage actress she performed many roles, including the superhuman feat of performing in the play Horoki (A Wanderer's Notebook) more than 2,000 times over the course of fifty years. As such, I feel that she was a person who truly gave the people of Japan dreams, courage and hope.

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