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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, December 14, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Bank of Japan's Tankan Survey
  • The Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety
  • Japan-China relations (the Senkaku Islands)
  • The House of Representatives election

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the Bank of Japan's latest Tankan Survey (Short-term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan) released this morning. Could you share with us how the Government views the fact that business sentiment has now deteriorated for two quarters in a row? Also, what is the Government's outlook for the current situation given that the emergency economic countermeasures implemented in October and November have not had any discernible impact in terms of improving the economy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have been informed that the Bank of Japan's diffusion index of business conditions indicated deterioration, particularly within the manufacturing sector, and in terms of outlook it is expected to deteriorate further, especially for small and medium enterprises. I understand that these survey results reflect the recent slowing of the Japanese economy. I also understand that due to high levels of uncertainty surrounding external economic environments including uncertainty in Europe and China, we need to be aware of a potential slowing of overseas economies. For now the Government's response is that we will steadily implement the second round of economic measures, part of the program for accelerating Japan's rebirth, which was recently finalized.

REPORTER: It has been said that moving forward the economy may show some improvement. What is your personal view on this prospect?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The first round of the economic measures were steadily implemented at the end of October while the second round of economic measures will be part of the program for accelerating Japan's rebirth, which I just mentioned.  Moving forward, we will plan, finalize and implement a third round of economic measures, which will involve a full-fledged supplementary budget, in order to ensure that the economic measures are implemented seamlessly. This is the direction I believe we should take.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety that is scheduled to take place this weekend in Fukushima. How will the Japanese Government be approaching this conference and will Prime Minister Noda be in attendance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Firstly, Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba will be hosting the conference and will present the host's speech. I believe that Prime Minister Noda was never scheduled to attend the conference and it is my understanding that arrangements are being made in the expectation that he will not attend.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on the same topic. I believe that this ministerial conference came about as a result of 3.11 after Japan called on the international community to participate in a conference. Given that the Prime Minister is not attending, has the Government decided that there are now more pressing issues that need to be attended to?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: No, the Government never announced that the Prime Minister would be in attendance, and I understand that Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba, the host of the conference, will be our representative.

REPORTER: The conference is about nuclear safety and therefore very important. Does the Japanese Government believe that a speech by the foreign minister will have sufficient weight?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is an international conference that will be jointly held with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Therefore we view this conference as a diplomatic meeting.

REPORTER: Yesterday, a Chinese aircraft violated Japanese airspace above the Senkaku Islands and I understand that the Japanese Government has made a complaint. Could you tell us if there have been any developments such as communications with China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I said yesterday, the Deputy Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau communicated with a Minister-Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo yesterday. Then the Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in Beijing, China communicated with the Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, as I announced yesterday, the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs lodged a protest against the Acting Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Japan. As you can see, the Japanese Government has lodged protests in numerous forms. The Government is making firm protests against China via diplomatic routes. However, understanding that any kind of conflict between Japan and China is of no benefit to either country, Japan will remain calm at all times when addressing this issue. On the other hand, the Japanese Government will of course continue to staunchly respond to any acts that violate our sovereignty in line with relevant domestic laws.

REPORTER: The spokesperson for the Chinese Government stated that an aircraft flying within Chinese territory is normal and is to be expected. How do you view this statement from China, which completely contradicts the Japanese Government's understanding?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: China has expressed their own claims on the Senkaku Islands and stated that they cannot accept the protests from Japan. It is my understanding that protests made by Japan are reported to the Chinese Government. I understand that China has not changed its intention to resolve this issue peacefully through dialogue with Japan, and I also understand that China has expressed this view. In response, Japan has expressed our basic stance toward the Senkaku Islands and stated that we cannot accept China's own claims. We made this point very clear. Please direct any further questions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

REPORTER: China has in the past violated maritime boundaries on many occasions but the recent incident was the first time a Chinese aircraft violated Japanese airspace. How does the Japanese Government assess the intentions of the Chinese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Your question concerns the intentions of the Chinese Government, so I believe it is difficult for me to say anything with certainty. China has been taking unilateral measures, such as the deployment of Government vessels in the surrounding waters, based on its own claims that I mentioned earlier. In light of the communications that took place at the site, I believe that a Chinese Government aircraft, which I believe belongs to the "Haijian" fleet, was deployed with the purpose of violating Japanese airspace to claim sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. As I said during yesterday's press conference and also earlier, the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is merely expressing China's own claims, and the Japanese Government does not in any way accept these claims. Either way, regardless of the situation, the Japanese Government, although I am repeating myself, will remain calm in addressing this matter but will continue to staunchly respond to any acts that violate our sovereignty in line with relevant domestic laws.

REPORTER: I believe that Self-Defense Force radars were unable to detect the entry of the Chinese aircraft into Japanese airspace. There have been concerns that the airspace patrolling and surveillance capacity of Japan is inadequate. Could you share with us the Government's thoughts on preventing future occurrences?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Firstly, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's ground-based radar system has a limited linear distance in terms of height but it is also limited in terms of area within which it is able to detect objects. Radar effectiveness is dependent on these conditions. The aircraft that violated Japanese airspace was not detected by the ground-based radar system; the Government was in fact first notified of the incident by the Japan Coast Guard. The Senkaku Islands are located quite a distance from mainland Okinawa, Kume Island and Miyako Island on which the ground-based radar system is located. Therefore, depending on the altitude of the aircraft, detection by ground-based radar may be difficult, for the reasons I stated earlier. Following the recent violation of airspace over the Senkaku Islands by a Chinese aircraft, the Ministry of Defense is currently discussing the issue, including considering the possibility of more effective utilization of early-warning aircraft, such as the E-2C, or the airborne warning and control system, AWACS. The Government is determined to remain as ready as possible in air defense.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the House of Representatives election to take place the day after tomorrow. According to results of early voting announced by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on Dec 10, the votes received totaled only approximately 80% of the previous election. Firstly, could you share with us how the Government views this? Additionally, it has been speculated that due to the election occurring in December during winter, less people have participated in early voting and there is also a view that fewer people may vote on the day of the election. How do you respond to these opinions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Firstly, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced that the number of people voting early, as of Sunday, was 83% of the last election. If you were to investigate why there was this 17% reduction, it would require in-depth analysis and it may not even be possible to determine the reason. Whatever the case, as I commented in my statement leading up to the election, I believe that we once again need to let citizens know that this is an important election that will determine the future direction of national policy and that all eligible voters are strongly encouraged to exercise their right to vote.

REPORTER: Due to the election being in winter, it is thought that the voter turnout rate may drop, especially in cold regions, due partly to difficulties in accessing polling stations. How do you think this will influence the election?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: If I recall correctly, the general election in 1990 was held in February. Therefore, I suppose I can say that this will be the first winter election in 22 years. I believe that the situation and transportation are significantly different now compared to 1990, and as I stated earlier, the Government would like to continue to encourage all eligible voters to go out and vote, and to exercise their right to vote. The timing of the election should not have any influence on this.


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