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Reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake

September 19, 2013(PM)

[Provisional Translation]

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

Q&As

  • Prime Minister's decision to decommission reactors five and six of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • 1 year since the launch of the Nuclear Regulation Authority

REPORTER: After inspecting the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Prime Minister Abe ordered the decommissioning of reactors five and six. Could you tell us the reason for ordering the decommissioning now and why the Government has decided to do so?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To date, local residents have strongly urged the Prime Minister and the Government to have the reactors decommissioned. In light of this, after today's inspection I believe that the Prime Minister ordered the decommissioning of reactors five and six, which are currently out of operation, so that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is able to concentrate on addressing the situation following the accident.

REPORTER: Does the Government have any intention to develop an additional scheme, which may include financing support, for TEPCO?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing has been decided regarding the development of a scheme. Understanding that the issue of contaminated water requires extremely urgent action and also requires advanced technology in addition to the ongoing issues, the recent decision reflects the Government's determination to come to the fore in addressing the issues.

REPORTER: I have a question on the same topic. In relation to the decommissioning of reactors five and six, while I can understand the sentiment of local residents, I question whether it is necessary to decommission the undamaged reactors, which have so far been taken out of operation without any problems. I appreciate your intention to concentrate resources on addressing the situation following the accident, but given that the reactors have been taken out of operation without problem, it appears to me that they could be left as is. I cannot see a reason for this decision.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The fact of the matter is that local residents have strongly lobbied the Government over the decommissioning of the reactors. Therefore the Government and TEPCO must work together to thoroughly address the situation following the accident.

REPORTER: Has the Prime Minister made this decision after considering such factors as lost profits compared to if reactors five and six were returned to operation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I said, local residents have been strongly demanding the decommissioning since the accident and I understand that the Prime Minister arrived at this conclusion after considering those opinions and after actually visiting the area.

REPORTER: With regard to the decommissioning of the reactors, were you informed of this decision prior to the doorstep interview with the Prime Minister?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that there were discussions to determine how we can respond to the desires of local residents.

REPORTER: The decision to decommission the reactor was announced immediately after the inspection and it appears to me that the decommissioning does not need to occur at this time.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that the Prime Minister made this decision to focus resources on addressing the situation following the accident.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: In relation to the decommissioning, given the heightening sensitivity of the international community with regard to the contaminated water issue, am I right to understand that today's decision by the Prime Minister to decommission reactors five and six was intended to send a message to the international community saying that Japan is moving toward becoming a nuclear free state?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have not been informed in that much detail, but I can say that the local residents have strongly urged the Government to have the reactors decommissioned. Given this, after visiting the plant today, I understand that the Prime Minister came to a decision and announced that reactors five and six, which are currently not in operation, need to be decommissioned so that TEPCO can concentrate their resources on addressing the accident.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Please allow me to return to the previous topic. I understand that TEPCO will expand its reserves by one trillion yen for decommissioning. What are the Government's predictions for TEPCO as a business moving forward? Also, how does the Government intend to support TEPCO?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At this stage, we are currently undertaking a number of initiatives, including addressing the issue of contaminated water and the decontamination of the site as per the existing scheme. Our priority is to ensure that our current initiatives are continued without interruption.

REPORTER: Earlier you stated that nothing has been decided in relation to an additional plan, but is the fundamental revision of the current scheme a possibility?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We have not made a decision at this stage. At the moment, we are doing our best and exerting every effort under the current scheme.

REPORTER: I believe that if the decommissioning does take place, it will result in a write-off in the order of hundreds of billions of yen. I understand that this was something completely unexpected for TEPCO, and while they have a reserve for decommissioning, it appears to me that unless the Government provides some kind of support, it is an unreasonable and irresponsible statement.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated earlier, I understand that the Prime Minister made today's decision as a result of demands by local residents to have the reactors decommissioned and because the Prime Minister believes that the decommissioning will allow TEPCO to focus its resources on the issues that have followed the accident. The Prime Minister has issued instructions to this end to TEPCO. I have been informed that in response, the CEO of TEPCO stated that he will decide what to do before the end of the year after consulting relevant parties.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: It has been one year since the launch of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. While the authority has produced some results, there are some issues that have gone unaddressed. Could you please share with us the Government's views regarding the future challenges for the Nuclear Regulation Authority?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I recognize the tremendous efforts that have been made to date by the members of the Nuclear Regulation Authority to ensure safety during these very challenging times. However, it is also true that due to the fact that many issues are being faced for the first time, there have been a number of critiques of the Authority. Nevertheless, the Government's stance is that safety comes first, so I therefore anticipate that the Authority will make every effort to ensure safety.

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