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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, November 25, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: On the subject of earthquakes, the Government's Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion has predicted that there is a 30% probability that a magnitude 9 class earthquake could occur within the next 30 years in the region between the offshore area off the northern Sanriku coast and the Boso Peninsula coast. What is the Government's view on the figures that have been announced on this occasion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Do you have any other questions to add?

REPORTER: I have one more question to ask concerning this matter. The figures used in this prediction have been calculated using provisional methods and it is anticipated that these methods will be revised in spring of next year. I believe that the content of national and local government disaster prevention plans will be considerably influenced by the revised methods to be decided next spring, and this raises the possibility that administrative responses to disaster prevention could be delayed. Does the Government have any plans to bring forward the issuance of the predictions of the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion from spring next year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Firstly, with regard to media reports, I hear that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) will be providing a detailed lecture on this issue from 3:30pm today, and I would advise you to seek further information from the experts who will be presenting at that lecture. The Government stance is that predictions have been made based on the current methodology by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which is headed by the MEXT Minister. With regard to your second question, the Council on the Promotion of Disaster Prevention Measures, an expert working group, has been newly established under the auspices of the Central Disaster Management Council. This new working group will examine the response by the Government to the Great East Japan Earthquake in particular, and will summarize the lessons from the recent disaster for the purpose of enhancing and strengthening disaster prevention measures in response to a large-scale earthquake such as an earthquake directly under Tokyo, or a Tokai, Tonankai or Nankai earthquake, and also to damage caused by torrential rains, which occur frequently. Consideration is currently being given to the various structures relating to response to natural disasters and these are being expedited to the greatest extent possible.

REPORTER: The United States ratings agency Standard & Poor's has indicated that without specific progress by the Japanese Government towards achieving fiscal health, there is a possibility that Japanese Government Bonds could be further downgraded. Given that the administration of Prime Minister Noda has indicated a desire to realize the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, what is the Government's view of a body related to the markets making such an observation, and what kind of response is the Government considering in order to ensure the further penetration of measures designed to attain fiscal health?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: With regard to the first part of your question, I have heard that the conclusion drawn is nothing more than that of one private sector company. The second part of your question is more important and the Fiscal Management Strategy stipulates that the primary balance should be brought down to half of the levels of fiscal 2010 as a percentage of GDP by fiscal 2015 at the latest, and that a surplus should be achieved by fiscal 2020 at the latest. This strategy was announced in June last year. In addition, the final draft of the proposal for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, which was completed in June this year, states that consumption tax should be incrementally raised to 10% by mid-2010s and that by ensuring stable financial resources for social security an important milestone will be created towards the simultaneous achievement of stable resources for social security and the realization of sound fiscal health. An explanation of these efforts was provided at the recent G20 Summit and other occasions, and the Government is continuing to seek domestic and international understanding with regard to such efforts. Therefore, my comment to your question at the current time is that the Government seeks to provide due explanations and engage in public relations in order to attain the understanding of the people of Japan as we proceed towards the realization of the comprehensive reform of  social security and taxation systems.


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