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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved five general and other measures, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning the results of the labor force survey and the results of the household budget survey. The Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made statements concerning the effective ratio of job offers to applicants for August 2014 and concerning cooperation for the campaign of the Central Community Chest of Japan.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Yamatani made a statement concerning the status of the response to the eruption of Mt. Ontake in 2014, among other matters.

I would like to report on a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Council for the Final Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste. Today, a second meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Council for the Final Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste was held. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Obuchi explained the way forward for proceeding with the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste, and listened to the opinions of relevant Cabinet members and others in attendance. The Cabinet reached an understanding that it would not postpone dealing with the issue of high-level radioactive waste and that it would proceed with the necessary steps, while obtaining the understanding of the people and the communities. For more details regarding the content of the meeting, please direct your questions to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

This year, once again, the Government will hold the International Cyber Security Campaign in October to strengthen international coordination on information security. During this period, outreach and information dissemination activities will be undertaken in a focused manner, including the holding of international symposiums, such as the ASEAN-Japan Cyber Security Policy Meeting. In conjunction with this, I will be issuing a message to the people. I ask that as many people as possible take this opportunity to increase their awareness about information security and take further steps to counter cyber attacks. For more information, please ask the National Information Security Center.

During the Cabinet meeting a short while ago, it was decided that Ms. Keiko Tanaka, Corporate Vice President of JATCO Ltd, will be appointed Japanese Ambassador to Uruguay effective October 2. Ms. Tanaka will become the first female Ambassador from the private sector. Her appointment brings the total number of female Ambassadors to five. It is a welcome development that outstanding women are playing an active role by demonstrating their capabilities to the fullest extent, including the appointment of Ms. Tanaka as Ambassador. The Government will continue to proactively facilitate women’s active role.


  • The Japan-North Korea consultations
  • The meeting of Inter-Ministerial Council for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste
  • The eruption of Mt. Ontake

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the Japan-North Korea consultations. Yesterday, the Japan-North Korea consultations in Shenyang, China concluded. What reports has the Government received at this point in time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This evening, after the Japanese delegation returns to Japan, we will be briefed directly by the delegation regarding the results of the meeting. With regard to the meeting, we understand that sincere and serious discussions took place in the morning and afternoon for a total of 4.5 hours. Japan stressed that the abduction issue was an utmost priority, and strongly urged North Korea to swiftly conduct comprehensive and full-scale investigations on all Japanese nationals, including victims of abduction, and notify the results promptly. Ambassador Song Il Ho pointed out that the purpose of the meeting was not for reporting the results of the investigations of the Special Investigation Committee. He offered explanations on the status of the execution of the agreement reached in Stockholm in May, as well as on the Special Investigation Committee. The Japanese side then asked questions. That is all I can say at this moment in time.

REPORTER: I have a related question. During the doorstep interview of Director-General Ihara of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau in China, the Director-General stated that the results of the meeting would of course be reported subsequently to Government leaders. He then expressed the view that the explanation provided to Government leaders will be made public. How will the Government be issuing this information?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will issue this information in an appropriate manner.

REPORTER: Are you considering doing so in a doorstep interview by the Prime Minister, your press conference, or other such means?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We would like to first receive a briefing on the matter, including by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, before making a decision regarding the best means of issuing this information.

REPORTER: Regarding this matter, do you have the impression that some level of progress was made? Is North Korea generally conducting the investigations in good faith or is it not? What is your overall reaction?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from speaking lightly on this matter at this point in time, before I hear the details.

REPORTER: As of yesterday, many things had still not come to light. The meeting failed to decide on the exact timing of the submission of the first report. What is your view regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Those are among the matters we hope to be briefed about today.


REPORTER: My question is in regard to the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Council for the Final Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste which you mentioned earlier. Can you please elaborate a little more on the revision of the basic policy and the progress with the selection of candidate sites?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, no specific locations or matters of that nature were decided. The meeting reached an understanding that through the forum of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy under the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, we will first hold discussions among experts regarding the specific scientific requirements and criteria for the prospective sites for the final disposal. With regard to the process of selecting the sites, what is most important is to obtain the understanding of the relevant communities. Therefore, today, we decided upon a basic framework of taking a series of careful steps in coordination with the National Governors’ Association, prefectures, municipalities, and other parties. We will initiate these full-fledged steps under the leadership of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Once the outlook becomes clear, we will hold another meeting of the Council and proceed with the work.      

REPORTER: If I recall correctly, you initially stated at the time of the first meeting that the basic policy would be revised as early as this spring. What is the reason for the delay? Also, people will ask for responsible explanations with respect to restarting the operations of nuclear power stations. Around when do you hope to start selecting the sites? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is not a matter of coordination really. The issue of the final disposal has remained at a standstill for all this time, and we cannot afford to push this issue back any longer. Therefore, we have decided on a basic framework and will proceed with the work to select the sites. We will ask experts to first determine the requirements and criteria. Then we will be selecting sites that match the requirements and criteria. In principle that is how we will proceed.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the eruption of Mt. Ontake. You stated that during today’s ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Yamatani explained the status of the response. Can you please tell us what was explained? Could you also tell us if the Prime Minister then issued any instructions, and so forth?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to Minister Yamatani’s explanation, today, Minister Yamatani explained to all Cabinet members that the Government has been holding disaster response meetings among relevant ministries and agencies since shortly after the eruption started and that the Government dispatched a survey team headed by State Minister of Cabinet Office Nishimura on the 28th. In addition, Minister Yamatani explained that the Government established an emergency disaster response headquarters chaired by Minister Yamatani at 5 pm on the 28th, as well as a local response headquarters chaired by Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Cabinet Office Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture. State Minister Nishimura gave a briefing on the outcomes of his visit to the disaster site, and on talks with the Governor of Nagano Prefecture and others. Minister Yamatani was present at this briefing and so was I. The Prime Minister then instructed that the exact priority should be saving lives and rescuing people.  

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