Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida on His Visit to Fukushima Prefecture and Other Matters
March 11, 2023
(On the reconstruction from the East Japan Great Earthquake and the restart of nuclear power plants)
Earlier today, I attended the Fukushima Memorial Event to Commemorate the Victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Prayer for Revitalization hosted by Fukushima Prefecture. With my thoughts turned to the victims of the earthquake, I renewed my determination to realize the reconstruction from the disaster. 12 years since the earthquake disaster, while steady progress has been made in reconstruction thanks to the untiring efforts to date of those concerned, I recognize that circumstances differ from area to area, with some people still forced to live as evacuees. Among the key remaining issues are the psychological care of those affected by the disaster, and particularly in Fukushima, medium- to long-term measures for reconstruction and revival from the nuclear disaster. The Government will carefully listen to the voices of those in the affected areas, and we will act as one in working toward reconstruction under the strong determination that “without the reconstruction of Tohoku, there will be no revival of Japan.”
On energy policies, let me point out that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine since February last year has completely changed the global energy landscape. Under such circumstances, balancing stable energy supply and decarbonization has become one of our key national challenges. In addressing this, we remain committed to our policy of reducing the reliance on nuclear power plants as much as possible while continuing to use necessary level of nuclear energy under the Sixth Strategic Energy Plan decided in the year before last. Also in the Basic Policy for the Realization of GX (green transformation) approved at a Cabinet meeting last month, we clearly referred to how we should reflect on the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that occurred against the backdrop of safety myth and renewed our determination to prioritize the ensuring of safety under any circumstance, based on the recognition that zero-risk doesn’t exist. We proceed with the use of nuclear energy on the premise that the highly independent Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) conducts strict inspections of nuclear power plants to ensure that failure to meet the regulatory standards means that their operations will never be approved, thus prioritizing safety and local understanding. We will continue to provide detailed explanations of such government policies to those in the three affected prefectures and other citizens concerned.
(On the fostering of understanding for the disposal of ALPS treated water)
The disposal of ALPS treated water is an issue that we can never postpone. In April of the year before last, the Government decided on the policy of discharging the water into the ocean on the premise that safety is ensured and that measures against reputational damage are thoroughly implemented. In January this year, at a meeting of relevant ministers, we announced that the specific timing of starting the discharge into the ocean is “expected to be from spring to summer of this year.” In addition, we will abide by the policy of “never proceeding with any disposal without the understanding of the parties concerned” as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry promised to the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations. While any particular group of people will not be regarded as the parties concerned and it is difficult to uniformly determine the level of understanding by particular indicators or numerical figures, we will listen to the concerns of local people, including those in the fishing industry, and the entire government will continue to provide detailed explanations and create opportunities for exchange of opinions. In addition to our initiatives to date to disseminate information through television commercials, as well as web and newspaper advertisements, we will work with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to take further steps to provide information based on scientific evidence and to foster understanding for the disposal.
(On the public dialogue on policies related to children)
Earlier today, I sat down with people who are raising their children in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, as well as those who are providing support for recovery from the earthquake disaster, to hear their various opinions. In Soma City, residents are making community-wide efforts to support child-rearing and providing psychological care for children. Based on the opinions I received in Soma City today and under the leadership of Minister Ogura, we will proceed with the formulation of concrete policies for children and child-rearing. In doing so, as I mentioned today, we will have to make utmost efforts to respect the opinions of those who are actually raising their children that I heard today. Therefore, I would like to continue to have such opportunities to sit down with those who are actually raising their children across the country down the road.
(On the normalization of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia)
I understand that the normalization of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia through the mediation of China has been announced. The Government of Japan is closely monitoring the situation, but given that this is a development between third countries, I would like to refrain from making any detailed comments. In any case, in light of Japan’s energy security, peace and stability in the Middle East region are essential. I believe that Japan also must continue its diplomatic efforts to alleviate tensions and stabilize the situation in the Middle East region, as well as to maintain and strengthen positive relations with the countries of the region.