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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, November 17, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:Today, pursuant to the provision of Article 20 Paragraph 3 of the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, the Government has imposed restrictions on the shipment of rice produced in 2011 in former Oguni-mura in Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture and issued instructions to this effect to the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture. In addition, the Government has asked the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture to investigate the cause and strengthen the testing of rice harvested in former Oguni-mura and surrounding areas. The test findings will be disclosed promptly. At the same time, with regard to rice produced in former Oguni-mura and other areas whose safety has been confirmed through tests, we will consider lifting their shipment restrictions. As for rice from which radiation levels in excess of the provisional regulation value were detected, this is something that was confirmed through tests conducted before shipment and the rice has not been circulated whatsoever. For details on this matter, please direct your questions to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.



REPORTER:With respect to the issue of rice, this morning you said something to the effect that this was an atypical situation. Based on the test findings, what is the Government's understanding now?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:In Fukushima Prefecture, tests have been conducted in two stages. In the sense that this area was not included, it seemed that the area was in a slightly removed location. Since we can naturally assume that there are other such areas, in saying "to investigate the cause and," we are asking that the cause is investigated to provide a full explanation, taking such areas into account.

REPORTER:I would like to ask the same question from this morning. By imposing shipment restrictions, I believe there will also be further reputational damage as a result of negative rumors spreading that rice from all of Fukushima Prefecture is at risk. Does the Government intend to take any measures once again to prevent...

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:First, the rice which was detected this time with radiation level in excess of the provisional regulation value of 500Bq/kg was confirmed through testing conducted before shipment. Therefore, there is absolutely nothing to worry about with respect to rice which has already been shipped. I would like to make clear that the (contaminated) rice has not been circulated.


REPORTER:I have a related question about rice. According to some reports, once shipment is suspended, then all rice harvested this fiscal year must be discarded. In your opening statement, you said that the Government will consider resuming shipment if safety is confirmed. I would like to confirm. As you mentioned at the beginning, the Government will consider progressively lifting the restrictions if safety is confirmed. Is my understanding correct?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:This case concerns one farming household. While shipment from this farm must inevitably be suspended, if it is confirmed that the other farms are OK, then I believe there is no problem in shipment.


REPORTER:I would like to ask about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In a television broadcast of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano meeting with New Zealand Minister of Trade Tim Groser, the camera picked up the reference materials that Minister Edano was holding, in which it was written that Prime Minister Noda's administration had made the decision to join the TPP negotiations. This issue was even discussed in Diet proceedings like today's Budget Committee meeting. Does this mean that it was the administration's policy to join negotiations from before Minister Edano departed for his trip?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:That was only an assumption, and in fact I believe that the opposite assumption was also included in that document. A decision had not been made at that point, and the document was drafted based on various assumptions before his departure as Minister Edano has already admitted. Therefore, he did not voice that information to Minister Groser as it was written in the document. He discarded other assumptions.

REPORTER:The Prime Minister stated that Japan would enter into consultations toward participating in the TPP negotiations. However, despite having very lucidly affirmed that Japan would participate in these negotiations, there is still an ongoing debate about what the Prime Minister said and did not say - a debate about what was said and what was not said that resembles Japan-United States summit talks is still going on in the Diet. What is your interpretation of the status of discussions following the Prime Minister's statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I commented on this today as well, but as the Prime Minister has answered time and time again, his statement covered exactly as was stated. However, it is my understanding that the United States expressed its own perspective by saying that things will be tabled within the nine-country framework, and that consultations will be carried out on this moving forward.


REPORTER:This is concerning the designation of zones around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station for which it will be difficult for residents to return home for the long-term. In yesterday's Budget Meeting, Minister Edano commented that a forecast for when the zone would be designated needs to be made roughly within the year, meaning that a forecast must be provided within the year. What will be the specific flow of the decision-making process concerning these zones?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:The Government is currently exerting every effort in aim of achieving Step 2 before the yearend. Next, after achieving Step 2, we will have to do everything in our power to implement mid- to long-term countermeasures, including for the removal of melted fuel. This issue that you mentioned of designating long-term no-return zones is an issue that will be considered after the completion of Step 2, including on the necessity for such zones. I believe that we must consider the issue in working toward the end of the year. At any rate, moving forward, we will have to carry out thorough discussions with Fukushima Prefecture and related local governments concerning revisions to no-entry zones and other areas and long-term reconstruction measures.


REPORTER:In his address to the Australian Parliament, United States President Barack Obama commented that his top priority is expanding the United States' presence and missions in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time he also touched on reducing defense expenditures. In relation, I am sure the expected role of Japan will now come into question. How do you take President Obama's comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I think this is a major policy approach of the United States. In terms of reducing expenditures, I believe that this is a fiscal matter. However, Japan understands that the decision is not contradictory to protecting the overall security of the Asia-Pacific region.

REPORTER:Listening to the comments of President Obama, I get the impression that Japan will be asked to fulfill a greater role. What is your view on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA:I do not think that the idea that Japan's role will grow is necessarily correct. Australia had even been considering requesting United States military deployment in the country, so I think that this is a matter of a shift in the U.S. military deployments.


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