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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issue related to the catastrophic situation caused by the typhoon in the Philippines
  • The former Prime Minister Koizumi's speech on energy policy
  • The issue related to the online sale of pharmaceutical products

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to read a statement about the response to the Typhoon in the Philippines. At the request of the Philippines Government, the Government of Japan will dispatch the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) as a Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Team. It is my understanding that later this evening the Minister of Defense will issue an official action order on the international emergency relief activities.

In addition, Japan has kept a stockpile of emergency supplies of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Singapore. For this disaster, we have decided to provide emergency supplies worth approximately 60 million yen to the Philippines, including tarps, mats and other essentials. Specific arrangements will be made with the Government of the Philippines and we will begin the prompt distribution of these supplies as soon as the official decision is made.

As for assistance from Japanese NGOs, I hear that Japan Platform, which provides emergency humanitarian assistance for areas hit by natural disasters, has decided to provide 150 million yen in aid and its member NGOs are currently making arrangements in this regard. Also, the JDR Medical Team arrived in Manila last night and will travel to Leyte Island, one of the hardest hit areas, and commence activities aimed at the start of full-scale relief assistance by the end of today, November 12. The Government of Japan will continue to exert its best efforts to deliver assistance to those in need as soon as possible.

REPORTER: My question is about the dispatch of the SDF announced just now. First, what are the main activities the SDF will be involved in? Second, how many personnel will be dispatched?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: For now around 40 personnel will be dispatched. The timing of the dispatch will be as soon as possible and the Ministry of Defense is making the final arrangements. Also, we expect the team to provide on-site medical and transport assistance. They will begin activities while assessing the situation on the ground.

REPORTER: By as soon as possible, do you mean as early as today?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: They are ready to depart. They are waiting for the completion of coordination with local officials.

REPORTER: Which units will be dispatched and for how long?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: For the time being, around 40 personnel will be dispatched. As the situation on the ground continues to change, I have been informed that around 40 personnel will be dispatched for the moment as a result of coordination with local officials.

REPORTER: Is there any possibility for additional dispatches?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That would be possible depending on the situation on the ground. Naturally I think so.


REPORTER: I would like to go back to the topic of the Philippines. During the press conference this morning, you said that more than 100 Japanese nationals had yet to be accounted for. Has anything changed since then?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As of now, we have confirmed the whereabouts of another three Japanese nationals. So far the safety of 30 of the 133 Japanese nationals on Leyte Island and Samar Island have been confirmed. However, communication with the affected areas remains extremely difficult, and we have had a hard time getting through. I have received reports that communications on the island as a whole are problematic, not specific individuals.

REPORTER: How was their safety confirmed - communication such as telephone call only from outside, or are people actually going around confirming their safety on the ground? Can you tell me about the means by which this is conducted?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It remains very difficult to get through locally by telephone. I understand that the whereabouts of these 30 Japanese nationals were confirmed based on information provided by local authority.


REPORTER: My question is about the press conference held by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Japan National Press Club this afternoon. During his talk, former Prime Minister Koizumi emphasized that the Prime Minister could, if he decided to, immediately achieve zero nuclear power dependence and that he should do so. How do you view this statement, Chief Cabinet Secretary?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding this recommendation, as I said this morning, the Government believes that it is extremely important to promote a responsible energy policy, including a stable power supply. Given that stance, as Prime Minister Abe has said in the Diet and other occasions, he would like to make considerations towards reducing Japan's dependence on nuclear power to every extent possible, and this represents the Government's stance.

REPORTER: During his speech, former Prime Minister Koizumi took into account the things you said just now, and emphasized that nuclear power should be completely eliminated because if nuclear power plants are restarted, it will lead to an increase in nuclear waste despite the fact that no final disposal site has been found as of yet. What does the Abe administration think about this, since it is currently attempting to go with nuclear power?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government should take responsibility and of course deal with this situation.

REPORTER: Mr. Koizumi's statement against nuclear power contrasts with the Government's stance, but he has also made statements at times that appear to encourage the current administration, such as noting that the Prime Minister is one of the luckiest prime ministers on record. Does the Government view Mr. Koizumi's statement as criticism or encouragement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have not heard the speech today, but former Prime Minister Koizumi has his own style, so I believe that Mr. Koizumi is the person speaking based on his own conviction.

REPORTER: Former Prime Minister Koizumi was talking about the political climate today. He noted that the Abe administration and Prime Minister Abe himself are very lucky. Comparing this to the privatization of Japan Post during the Koizumi administration, he said everyone in the opposition party opposed the privatization, but now, everyone in the opposition party is in favor of a zero nuclear power policy. Mr. Koizumi was saying that only the Liberal Democratic Party is against this plan and that compared to the situation concerning Japan Post privatization, the climate is much better for a zero nuclear power policy. Do you have any thoughts on the matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I really do not think that Japan Post should be compared to nuclear power, but in either case, the Government's basic stance is to pursue a responsible energy policy from the perspective of a stable supply and reduce dependence on nuclear power.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the online sale of pharmaceutical products. This evening Rakuten subsidiary Kenko.com is set to bring a lawsuit against the Government of Japan. How does the Government view this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government's view was released in a round-robin Cabinet meeting today, though it has not officially been approved yet. The Government's policy is quite clear that it will approve 99.8% of the online sale of pharmaceutical products. As for the remaining 0.2%, a panel of pharmaceutical experts and doctors that deliberated on the matter in the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare set the direction that online sales would not be acceptable. Following this, the Government has announced these results as policy based on such safety concerns. Therefore, I believe the Government had sufficient evidence in announcing this policy.


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