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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The clash of the U.S. Forces helicopter in Okinawa
  • The issue of contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • Deputy Prime Minister Aso's remarks on the Nazi regime
  • Travel advisories for Yemen
  • Yasukuni Shrine

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the crash of the U.S. Forces helicopter. Has the U.S. provided any new information in response to Japan's request to the U.S. to uncover the cause of the accident?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as a result of this helicopter crash accident, one of the crew members has passed away. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences. Yesterday, in fact, Governor Nakaima of Okinawa visited me, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Defense. In response to this crash accident, the Governor requested the suspension of flights of the same helicopter until the cause of the accident is known, a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident and its prompt disclosure, and that the Government take all possible measures to prevent the recurrence of such accidents and further step up safety management efforts. The Government stated to the Governor that, taking the Governor's request seriously, the Government will urge the U.S. to give maximum consideration to safety and will make utmost efforts to reduce the burden of the U.S. bases on the Okinawan people. No other information in particular has come to light from the U.S. side since yesterday.


REPORTER: I would like to ask two questions regarding the issue of contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. First, I would like to ask whether the Government is making arrangements and considerations with the intention of using Government funds for the countermeasures. My other question is, will Prime Minister Abe, by the end of today, be giving instructions to strengthen these countermeasures? If you can please respond to these two questions.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government considers that dealing with the contaminated water issue is critically important in and of itself, and also in terms of proceeding with the decommissioning work. At the end of May, the Government decided, in order to reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the nuclear reactor building and to prevent the accumulated contaminated water from flowing out, to intercept the water by using frozen soil, by freezing the soil around the building. There is no precedent in the world to create a water-shielding wall with frozen soil, by freezing the soil, on such a large scale. To install this, the Government believes that it must take a step forward to promote or support its realization. Regarding budget matters, I understand that they are currently under review at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. As for the Prime Minister, at today's meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, he is expected to instruct the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to take measures swiftly with regard to the contaminated water.

REPORTER: What is your assessment of the measures that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has taken so far in response to the contaminated water issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe TEPCO is making every effort. However, it is a fact that from the perspective of the people in the affected areas and the people of Japan, there are elements of concern with far little progress being made. Therefore, as I stated earlier, the Government believes that it must take a step forward to support the realization of a water-shielding wall around the nuclear reactor building.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the Diet. The extraordinary Diet session will come to a close today, and it appears that five opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan, intend to compile and submit to the Government a written document seeking the dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister Aso in relation to his remarks pertaining to the Nazi regime. Once again may I ask how the Government will respond to this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to this issue, Deputy Prime Minister Aso has corrected his statement. In this sense, the position of the Abe administration has been clearly shown. Even if such a proposal is submitted, the stance of the Government is clear, and we believe this should not be made into an issue.


REPORTER: I have a question on Yemen. The U.S. Government and other governments have issued travel advisories for Yemen based on information about terrorism. Following this, I believe the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also issued some sort of a travel advisory or strengthened the travel advisory. Can you please explain specifically what kind of information you have obtained?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Due to the nature of this matter, I would like to refrain from giving out the specifics regarding the information Japan has obtained. The U.S. Department of State and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom have urged their citizens to leave the country and have ordered their Government officials, except for emergency response officers, to exit the country. Following this, while Japan has already issued a travel advisory, it is currently releasing "spot information," urging Japanese citizens to leave the country. However, at this point in time, the Government has not considered the closure of the Japanese Embassy in Yemen. Currently, from the 7th to the 12th, the Embassy is closed for the holiday following the end of Ramadan. We have instructed Japanese Embassy personnel to refrain from going out and to stay in their homes.

REPORTER: The other day when a related question was asked to you, you declared that there was no information about terrorism targeted at Japanese people. Does the situation remain unchanged?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that it remains unchanged.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about visits to Yasukuni Shrine. Yesterday, the Prime Minister stated during his press conference that he has no intention of telling ministers to visit or not visit Yasukuni Shrine. In effect, the Prime Minister has once again indicated his intention to leave this decision up to each minister. For example, have you explained this policy of the Abe administration to neighboring countries, in particular, China and the Republic of Korea? Or if you intend to, how will you explain this and seek their understanding? Can you please once again explain these matters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated on numerous occasions at this press conference, whether you are in Japan or outside Japan, people clasp their hands to pray for the repose of the souls of those who sacrificed their precious lives in battle for their country, and people have respect for these individuals. We believe this is the same in any country. In this context, whether or not ministers pay visits as private citizens is up to each minister. We, the Government, will not tell them whether they should go or whether they shouldn't go. Furthermore, we believe there is no need for us to make a point of communicating this to other countries.


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