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Reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake

September 20, 2013(PM)

[Provisional Translation]

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

Q&As

  • The countermeasures against contaminated water

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Regarding the topic of contaminated water measures, there is a proposal surfacing within the ruling parties to establish a special measures act concerning contaminated water issues. Do you think it is better that the Cabinet proposes this act or Diet members?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, the Government has recently announced that it would play a proactive role in fundamentally settling the contaminated water issue without leaving the task up to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). In this context, the Basic Policy for the Contaminated Water Issue was approved on September 3. The current basic view of the Government is that it will make all efforts to deal with this issue, while working closely with the ruling parties in accordance with the Basic Policy.

REPORTER: During today's meeting of the Research Commission on Natural Resources and Energy Strategy of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a draft proposal was presented of the bill for the special measures act, which would make measures to prevent leakages of contaminated water a project directly controlled by the Government. What is your assessment of this move?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Contaminated water is a matter of critical urgency. I assume that the party proposed this draft from the perspective that concerted efforts are needed to deal with the situation. As for the Government, as I noted moments ago, the Basic Policy for the Contaminated Water Issue was approved on September 3. It has been decided that the Government will play a proactive role in installing frozen soil walls and implementing other measures. Accordingly, the Government will take steps to deal with the contaminated water issue while working closely with the ruling parties.

REPORTER: Along with contaminated water, the Prime Minister has also declared that the Government will settle the decommissioning issue. Within the ruling parties, various opinions have been raised regarding the scheme or framework for proceeding with the decommissioning work - for example, the creation of a decommissioning agency or the nationalization of TEPCO. What is the Government's reaction to the discussions taking place at the Project Team (PT) of the ruling parties, and how does the Government intend to move forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to decommissioning, the Prime Minister has instructed TEPCO to decommission Daiichi Nuclear Power Station's Units 5 and 6 amid the strong requests received from the local people. I believe the Prime Minister issued this instruction yesterday with hopes that TEPCO will focus first on and give priority to contaminated water measures. At any rate, as I mentioned moments ago, the fact of the matter is that the Government and TEPCO will exert all possible efforts to do whatever they need to do respectively for intercepting the contaminated water.

REPORTER: Then, with regard to decommissioning, are you saying that talks about establishing a decommissioning agency or various schemes concern the next phase, that the Government will first deal with the immediate issues at hand and then move on to the mid- to long-term challenges?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes. First, we will exert all efforts towards the contaminated water measures. For example, by decommissioning the units, space will be created. In this area, tanks, for instance, can be placed. Various possibilities can be conceived. For now, our focus is on contaminated water measures.

(Abridged)

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