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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, August 26, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The consumption tax
  • The leakage of contaminated water from TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • The situation in Syria
  • Nuclear power policy
  • The Senkaku Islands

REPORTER: With regard to the increase in the consumption tax, from today a large-scale series of interviews is scheduled to be held over a 6-day period with 60 experts and specialists. Could you share with us the aim of this large-scale series of interviews?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on instructions given by the Prime Minister, it has been decided that Deputy Prime Minister Aso, Minister Amari, Governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ) Kuroda, and members of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy will engage in a round of intensive examination meetings, which will start from today, with the aim of hearing the direct views of various experts. From the perspective of realizing a positive cycle between economic revitalization and fiscal consolidation and as part of the comprehensive reform of social security and tax systems, the Government seeks to hear opinions from experts and specialists from a wide range of disciplines in a focused manner, gaining their views on what issues need to be dealt with for economic and fiscal management and what responses need to be made in the future. These opinions will form a source of reference for a comprehensive consideration of the economic situation relating to a rise in the consumption tax. Based on the results of this intensive round of meetings and interviews with experts, the Prime Minister will make a decision with regard to the consumption tax.


REPORTER: On a separate issue, since last week the leakage of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has once again been widely raised in the international community as a source of concern. In your press conference on August 21 you stated that the Government will make every effort to respond to the situation. I would like to ask about the Government's resolve and in what ways it intends to respond to the issue. Also, the other day in the press conference of Governor Inose of Tokyo, an overseas journalist asked whether the current situation would impact the bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. This is a point that is being asked in some quarters, so can I ask for your views with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is highly regrettable that contaminated water has been found to be leaking from water tanks. The current leakage is separate from the structural issue of contamination of groundwater that has been addressed to date, and one of the primary issues with the recent leakage is that management of the tanks, including patrols and management of valves, has not been sufficiently implemented. Whatever the case, as the safe storage of contaminated water with high concentrations of radiation is one of the fundamental prerequisites for the decommissioning of reactors 1 to 4 of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the Government will therefore step forward to ensure that the causes of the current leakage are clarified swiftly and that measures are implemented to prevent reoccurrence. The Government will make maximum efforts to assist in fundamental reforms to the current structure relating to contaminated water. In actual fact I gave instructions two weeks ago to the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to implement all fiscal measures possible, including the utilization of reserve funds, in order to advance swift and fundamental countermeasures. Today the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry is visiting the power station and he will make a decision based on the results of his visit. The current policy of the Government is to do everything possible to ensure that the situation is resolved without further delay. With regard to the bid for the Olympic Games, appropriate information is being provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its overseas missions, as well as on English language websites. Therefore I do not believe that there will be an impact such as that which you have suggested.

REPORTER: With regard to the civil war in Syria there are suspicions that the use of chemical weapons has resulted in the deaths of many Syrian citizens. The United States and the United Kingdom have indicated that if it is true that chemical weapons have indeed been used a severe response will be required. What is the view of the Government of Japan at the current point and what response is being considered?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is aware of the reports about this incident and is gravely concerned. The Government will continue to monitor the situation with the utmost seriousness and expects that the United Nations inspection team that is scheduled to begin an inspection in Syria in the near future will be able to clarify the facts of the incident swiftly. The use of chemical weapons is totally unacceptable in any situation and Japan will continue to make diplomatic efforts in cooperation with the international community towards achieving a swift end to all violence in Syria.

REPORTER: According to a column in today's Mainichi newspaper, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi indicated during a visit to Europe that he is supportive of a zero nuclear power policy for Japan. During Mr. Koizumi's tenure as Prime Minister, you were working closely with him on the Koizumi reforms, among other matters, and now he is stating Japan should set out on a zero nuclear power policy, noting that necessity is the mother of invention. He has also stated that first a decision needs to be announced before anything can be done. What are your views of these comments by Mr. Koizumi?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have read the column you mention and I believe that the views expressed in it are those of former Prime Minister Koizumi himself. In the election pledges of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) we noted that it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the people of Japan have a stable supply of energy and that we would make every effort to achieve that aim, including nuclear power, new energies and renewable energies. With regard to nuclear power, from the perspective that safety is of the utmost importance, Japan has the strictest safety standards in the world, which were announced by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority in April. There is no change to the Government's position that based on a policy of giving the highest priority to safety, we will continue to make every effort to respond to the nuclear power station issue and at the same time seek to develop renewable energies.

REPORTER: So you are saying that nuclear power is considered necessary by the Abe administration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Assessing the situation in realistic terms, our view is to consider the situation from a perspective that prioritizes safety.

REPORTER: One of the pressing issues that the Government faces and one that is still under discussion is a future energy plan, including the ratio of the energy mix accounted for by nuclear power. Against this backdrop COP19 is scheduled to be held in November this year in Poland and the current carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction targets are likely to be difficult to determine. What are your views on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In January this year in a meeting of the Headquarters for Japan's Economic Revitalization, Prime Minister Abe gave instructions to all ministers to conduct a zero-based review concerning the 25% emission reduction target of greenhouse gases prior to COP19 this November and to formulate a proactive diplomatic strategy on global warming, with the aim of contributing to the world by fully utilizing Japanese advanced technologies. Currently preparations are being made for the convening of related review meetings in September and the Government will continue to make concerted efforts to consider this issue.


REPORTER: There are press reports that China is engaged in the construction of its first amphibious assault vessels. What is the Government's awareness of the current situation and what impact do you think it will have on the Senkaku Islands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given the nature of this matter I would like to refrain from going into specific details from my position as Government spokesperson. However, there is no change to the fact that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent territory of Japan, and therefore there is no change to the Government's existing policy of protecting what should be protected and emphasizing what should be emphasized.

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