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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, November 24, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This morning from 9:30am a meeting of the Council for Science and Technology Policy was held. This was the first time for the Council to be convened under the administration of Prime Minister Noda and it also marked the 100th occasion for the Council meeting to be held. At the meeting discussions were held on the important challenges that need to be incorporated into science and technology policy in the future, towards the realization of the Fourth Science and Technology Basic Plan, which was approved by the Cabinet in August this year. For details, please direct your questions to officials in charge of  Science and Technology Policy and Innovation in the Cabinet Office.

Next, I have a report concerning the Ministerial Council on Monthly Economic Report and other related issues that was held today. With regard to the current state of the Japanese economy, although there were some slight differences in the forms of expression used in the previous month, the overall judgment on the state of the economy remains the same, namely that the economy is continuing to pick up while difficulties remain due to the Great East Japan Earthquake. With regard to the prospects for the economy, while it is expected that the economy will continue to pick up, caution is required as there are downside risks stemming from further slowing down of less resilient overseas economies, including the government debt crisis in Europe, volatile fluctuations in exchange rates and stock prices, and the impact of the recent floods in Thailand. For details, please direct your questions to officials in charge of Economic and Fiscal Analysis of the Cabinet Office.


REPORTER: With regard to Europe, which you have just mentioned, Germany has recently auctioned off 10-year government bonds with the result that more than 30% of the bonds issued were left unsold. In the markets there are people who believe that the European financial crisis has entered an even more serious phase. What is the current recognition of the Government with regard to this issue and what response does the Government intend to request of the countries of Europe? Also, to date the Government has been supporting financial stability in Europe through the purchase of European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) bonds. However, will the deteriorating situation have an impact on the assistance being provided to Europe in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The German Government implemented the auction of a new issuance of government bonds on November 23, through which it was planned to procure approximately 620 billion yen. However, bids from investors amounted only to around 400 billion yen. This result can be viewed as an expression of the extreme circumspection among investors concerning the purchase of national government bonds in Euro Zone countries, including those of Germany, which is in comparatively robust fiscal health. This is something that the Japanese Government must continue to monitor as we move forward. Secondly, with regard to your second question concerning assistance provided by the Japanese Government, in today's Ministerial Council on Monthly Economic Report and other related issues the Governor of the Bank of Japan stated that while the problems facing Europe are for Europe to address, Japan would continue to carefully monitor the situation. This stance as expressed by the Governor of the Bank of Japan is also that of the Japanese Government.


REPORTER: Yesterday Chinese vessels made passage through the seas between Okinawa and Miyako. What is the view of the Government with regard to this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: From November 22 to 23, six vessels of the Chinese navy made passage through the Nansei Islands, sailing from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean. During their passage there were no confirmed instances of dangerous activities such as close proximity flights by onboard helicopters, nor did any actions take place that are in contravention of international law. The Government will continue to monitor Chinese military movements, including the movements of Chinese vessels in the sea areas surrounding Japan. These military activities are something that has also occurred in the past.

REPORTER: Still on the subject of the Chinese vessels, what is the Government's view that the passage of these vessels occurred during the visit of Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba's visit to China to engage in foreign ministerial talks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am unable to make a judgment as to whether the timing of the passage of the vessels was coincidental or intentional. At the Japan-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting the foreign ministers of both countries confirmed the agreement concluded at the leader level concerning the construction of a maritime crisis management mechanism. The agreement on the construction of this mechanism was one of the outcomes of the summit meeting held recently, in which it was confirmed that the two countries would engage in coordination to launch a framework for dialogue as a means of nurturing trust between maritime-related bodies and institutions. Specific contents of considerations on this mechanism will be addressed from now.

REPORTER: Yesterday the four-day proposal-based policy review of government programs came to an end. What are your views on the outcomes of this review, given the concerns about its outcomes?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The four-day period for proposal-based policy review of government programs has come to an end, which was aimed at further developing the policy review process. Given the situation that Japan currently faces, including our severe fiscal circumstances, it is necessary to precisely assess not only individual programs but the policies and systems that form the backdrop to such programs. I believe therefore that the four-day proposal-based policy review, which was held in an open environment, provided a forum for detailed discussions, incorporating views and opinions from external perspectives and ensuring that the public have a chance to consider policy together with the Government. The outcomes of this policy review will be for the people of Japan to decide, in view of the progress in reforms that is made from now, and I believe that the policy review process is extremely important as a means of highlighting various policies, measures and systems that have previously been difficult to understand or visualize by the public. The same goes for future policy reviews.


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