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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, November 4, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. Decisions were made on 11 answers to written questions, and the formulation of draft bills, the issuance of Cabinet orders, and personnel decisions were approved. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made a statement concerning emergency grant aid in response to the earthquake damage in Eastern Turkey.

My other announcement is about a meeting of the Ministerial Meeting on Electric Power Sector Reform and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which took place before the Cabinet meeting. The issue of electric power sector reform involves a vast array of points of contention, for example, compensation by TEPCO, the modality of electric power supply, the establishment of nuclear power safety measures, and the institutional reform of the electric power business. While each and every point of contention will be responsibly dealt with by the relevant ministers, because the issues are interrelated, the meeting is being held in recognition of the importance of ensuring coordination among the relevant ministers. At today's meeting, Minister Edano reported on the approval of the Special Business Plan of the Corporation in Support of Compensation for Nuclear Damage and TEPCO. In addition, each minister reported on the progress made in their respective areas. The Ministerial Meeting will be convened as necessary in light of the progress of the respective initiatives. I believe details will be explained at the press conference of Minister Edano.



REPORTER:Prime Minister Noda, who is attending the G20, pledged at the international forum to raise the consumption tax to 10% by the mid-2010s. What are your thoughts on this? Also, can you once again explain your views regarding the Government's initiatives moving forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I believe this is not a new statement. In June of this year, the Headquarters of the Government and Ruling Parties for Social Security Reform compiled a final draft of the proposal for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems. The final draft sets out a policy to gradually raise the consumption tax up to 10% by the mid-2010s, and in accordance with the roadmap presented in Article 104 of the FY2009 Supplementary Provisions of the Tax System Reform Act, to submit the draft legislation on the fundamental reform of the taxation system, including consumption tax, during this fiscal year. This basic policy of the Noda Cabinet has been approved by the Cabinet, and furthermore, Prime Minister Noda said something to this effect in his first policy speech after the launch of the new Cabinet. Therefore, at the G20, I believe Prime Minister Noda was explaining the facts leading up to the present situation based on the existing policy.


REPORTER:I have a question regarding the emission of xenon at Reactor No. 2 of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. While at one time TEPCO said that there may also be a possibility of recriticality, it turned out to be a spontaneous nuclear fission. If it is a spontaneous nuclear fission, I believe the xenon concentration can be speculated in advance. It seems that there was a bit of confusion this time. Regarding this matter, will the Government be raising any issues with TEPCO, and will the Government be issuing any warnings and so on to TEPCO?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I beg your pardon, any what?

REPORTER:Warnings and so on.


REPORTER:Warnings or point it out to TEPCO.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:According to TEPCO's report as of now, the xenon detected were a result of a spontaneous nuclear fission reaction, which occurs due to the existence of substances such as curium -- a reaction which occurs even after a reactor is shut down under normal circumstances, and that it is not a result of criticality with continuous nuclear fission reaction. From here on, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), from the Government's standpoint, will be carrying out thorough verifications and checks. Therefore, I believe it is still too early to make a conclusion. This matter should be judged after NISA makes a final judgment. At this stage, TEPCO has concluded that the xenon were a result of spontaneous nuclear fission.

REPORTER:My question concerns the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). At a previous press conference, I believe there was a discussion about, if Japan were to announce participation in the negotiations, then it is anticipated that preliminary consultations will take place with the United States (U.S.). Can you tell us at this stage what specific items the Government anticipates will be discussed in these preliminary consultations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:You are asking a question on the assumption that Japan is participating in the negotiations. First, if I go into such specifics in my response right now, it will then be speculated that the Government has decided to participate in the negotiations. Therefore, I would like to annotate that your question assumes if Japan participates. Regarding the preliminary procedures at the U.S. Congress, I understand several have taken place to date. Since this is about the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Government, it is not a matter for us to comment on. It is also not a matter about which we are speculating the contents of at this present moment.


REPORTER:Returning to the subject of TPP, in a previous press conference, you said that with regard to healthcare, the lifting of the ban on mixing medical treatments which are covered by health insurance with those which are not, the entrance of for-profit companies into the healthcare sector, and public medical and insurance systems are currently not being discussed. You also said that even if Japan were to participate in the negotiations, you do not imagine that these items will be newly included in the agenda. However, during the interpellation session at the Diet on November 1, Prime Minister Noda said that it cannot be completely denied that if Japan participates in the TPP, participating countries will not ask Japan to deal with the items of concern bilaterally. I believe healthcare is included among the pending issues in Japan-U.S. relations. Is there no possibility of this issue being tabled in the discussions after Japan's participation in the negotiations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:In terms of possibility, Prime Minister Noda responded, I believe at the plenary session, that the possibility of the countries participating in the negotiations to request Japan to deal with the individual pending issues between the two countries cannot be completely denied. However, in that case, Japan will of course clearly set out what is and is not feasible, and deal with bilateral pending issues individually through bilateral consultations, separately from the TPP Agreement negotiations. I reiterate that at this present moment, the lifting of the ban on mixing medical treatments which are covered and not covered by health insurance and the entrance of for-profit companies into the healthcare sector are not included in the discussions of the TPP Agreement negotiations. Furthermore, in terms of possibility, if Japan were to participate in the negotiations and such items were to be raised bilaterally, the Government will naturally ensure that Japan's reassuring and safe healthcare will not be undermined, while this is a hypothetical situation.

REPORTER:While I believe the Government will make attempts to prevent such items from being included, do you have any grounds for assuring this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Since these are negotiations, naturally the Government's stance will be to ensure that this does not happen.

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