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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 (PM)

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. The meeting approved eight measures, including general measures, and the promulgation of cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense, and I made a statement, respectively, on the implementation of international peace cooperation activities in South Sudan (dispatch of Japanese Self-Defense Force [SDF] personnel as staff officers). Prime Minister Noda made a statement concerning the Senior Vice Minister who will support the Minister in charge of the abduction issue.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Noda and Minister Renho respectively made statements concerning the request for cooperation for the proposal-based policy review of the Government Revitalization Unit as well as on the outcomes of the inspection of the review of administrative programs.

Next, I would like to explain the statement made by Prime Minister Noda at today's Cabinet meeting, which I referred to a moment ago. The Prime Minister made the following four points. First, he said that it was extremely regrettable that the purport of his statement at the Cabinet meeting on September 6 regarding the Senior Vice Minister to support the Minister in charge of the abduction issue was not thoroughly understood, and the fact that this caused confusion at the deliberations, etc. of the Special Committee on North Korean Abduction Issue and Related Matters of the House of Councillors as well as the fact that sufficient procedures were not taken in making the request to the Senior Vice Minister. Second, the Prime Minister said that he takes seriously the discussions held at the Diet on whether or not the abduction issue is of little relevance to the designated tasks of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and has instructed Senior Vice Minister of Cabinet Office Goto to support Minister Yamaoka starting from today in place of Senior Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Matsubara. Third, with respect to the impression that was given by the Prime Minister's statement at the Cabinet meeting, which was that instructions were given to Senior Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Matsubara without going through Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Maeda, the Prime Minister said that procedures will be improved, including asking the relevant minister to make such statements in the future. Fourth, the Prime Minister expressed his apologies for causing an inconvenience to everyone concerned and asked ministers for their cooperation for resolving the abduction issue at the earliest possible date.

Lastly, I would like to speak about the dispatch of staff officers for international peace cooperation activities in South Sudan. Upon the United Nations' (UN) request for Japan's cooperation for the new peacekeeping operations (PKO) in South Sudan following its independence, Japan has been making the necessary arrangements. At today's Cabinet meeting, the work plan, etc. with regard to the deployment of the staff officers were approved by the Cabinet. As for the dispatch of the engineering unit, a request was made at the Cabinet meeting on November 1 to begin preparations and preparations are now earnestly getting underway. For details on the work plan, etc., please direct your questions to the Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters of the Cabinet Office.


REPORTER:The Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration of the House of Representatives will be starting a Diet version of the review of government programs. I understand that the Committee will verify programs and budgets and ask the Government to make improvements. What is the Government's view of these activities? Also, how will the Government be dealing with the conclusions of the Diet's review?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First, I would like to commend and welcome this new initiative of the Diet. With this being a review of government programs, I feel that this method of review of government programs that we initiated after the change in government has also been recognized by the Diet. I believe it is deeply meaningful for the Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration to undertake a review of government programs with the ruling and opposition parties working together, and I believe this will lead to improving the transparency of government administration and to restoring public confidence in politics and government administration. The Government will offer its full cooperation with the deliberations so that the review of government programs by the Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration of the House of Representatives will be a fruitful one. In addition, we would like to draw on the discussions for other processes in the future, such as the budget formulation process. Since the approach and so forth have not yet been decided, as I mentioned a moment ago, my comment as of now is that we would like to draw on the discussions for the future budget formulation process.

REPORTER:I have a question concerning the conflict occurring in northern South Sudan. As of yesterday morning, I believe the Japanese Government could not yet confirm for sure whether it was clashes between Sudan's army and South Sudan's army. Since then, have you been able to confirm anything?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:At this moment, nothing has yet been confirmed. However, since then, a statement of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been released. According to this statement, the Secretary-General expresses deep concern over the escalation of rhetoric between the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan, particularly in regard to cross-border support of rebel groups by the Governments and incursions into one another's territory. He also made a number of other points. The Government of Japan is also concerned about the situation. However, we are still not fully sure of the situation and circumstances in detail and will continue to pay close attention to this.

REPORTER:Related to this, I believe preparations are also now being made for the dispatch of the implementation unit for PKO in South Sudan. Is it still difficult for the Government to obtain information about the local situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As you are aware, this area is 500km or more removed from the capital city of Juba. The study team that was dispatched in advance reported that there are overall no direct threats to the UN and the community members are receptive toward the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). With respect to the dispatch of a SDF engineering unit to South Sudan, the team confirmed that the unit can carry out effective activities while of course paying due attention to ensuring the safety of the personnel. Moving forward, we will take all possible measures to ensure the safety of the personnel at the time of their deployment while paying close attention to the situation.

REPORTER:In dispatching the unit, does the Government intend to further bolster its capacity for collecting information about the area?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Since two staff officers are first being deployed, I believe we will be able to obtain information more directly. Currently, there are people from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and others who are also there, and information is being collected from a variety of routes.

REPORTER:I would like to ask the same question from this morning. The football match between Japan and North Korea finished a moment ago. Have you received any reports about any kind of trouble or accident from the perspective of protecting the Japanese people?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:As of right now, I have not heard anything about any problems in particular. The match took place peacefully, and shall I say, unfortunately, I believe Japan lost 0-1.

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