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Reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake

May 12, 2014(AM)

[Provisional Translation]

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

Q&As

  • The controversy expression by comic on radiation exposure

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the serialized comic Oishinbo. In the comic, the former mayor of Futaba Town, Fukushima Prefecture is portrayed as saying that the reason for his nosebleed is due to exposure to radiation. He also said that people should not live in Fukushima. The comic stirred controversy. What are your thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the comments concern a former mayor who no longer works as a public servant. Therefore, the Government must refrain from commenting. However, the Government understands that, according to specialists in this field, there is no connection between nosebleeds and radiation exposure to local residents caused by the accident in Fukushima. The Government considers the full provision of scientifically accurate information to be highly important and scientifically it has been shown that there is no connection whatsoever. As such, we believe it is important that we thoroughly communicate this information.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to return to the earlier topic of Oishinbo. Does the Government intend to take any action against Shogakukan or the author of the comic?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The issue concerns a former mayor who no longer works as a public servant and therefore the Government must refrain from commenting. As such, we do not have any intention to take any action. In the meantime, the Japanese Government will thoroughly provide scientifically accurate information to the public.

REPORTER:As this issue concerns a comic book, I believe that this can also be viewed as a matter of freedom of expression. Last Friday, Minister of the Environment Ishihara made comments in relation to the comic and said that he cannot at all understand what message the depiction itself is supposed to convey. The interpretation of the comic may be challenging, but how much does the Government intend to evaluate and intervene?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I just said, the Government believes that it is extremely important that we provide scientifically accurate information. We do not consider it to be our place to comment on this publication.

REPORTER: Am I then right to understand that although the Government acknowledges that the comic is clearly wrong, it is choosing not to say anything?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Well as this is a matter of freedom of expression and concerns an individual who is not a public servant, the Government is not in a position to make a comment. However, what is important, as I have said a number of times, is to communicate to people throughout Japan and the world, not to mention Fukushima residents, that according to specialists in this field, there is no relationship between the two incidents mentioned in the comic.

REPORTER: I understand that this issue concerns freedom of expression, which is a tricky subject. That being said, in a sense, this medium, which could potentially have greater influence than we in the media mass could, is using such a depiction as if it were fact. It is expected that the story line of the comic will reach a climax next week and I believe that this is something that the Government should be concerned about.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We believe that the Government should not intervene. I have said this a number of times, but all we can do as the Government is to thoroughly communicate the fact that, according to specialists in this field, there is no relationship between nosebleeds and radiation exposure to citizens following the accident in Fukushima.

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