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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, November 29, 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 first like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 13 general and other measures, and also the promulgation of legislation, cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Prime Minister Noda and Minister of State for Promotion of Local Sovereignty Kawabata made statements concerning the promotion of local sovereignty reforms. The Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning the results of the labor force survey and the results of household budget survey. The Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement on the national ratio of jobs to applicants for October 2011.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Justice made a statement concerning the fourth request for the renewal of the surveillance period for the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult. Minister Furukawa made a statement concerning his visit to the Republic of Korea. The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry made a statement concerning his visit to China.

I have one more item to report. Today, prior to the Cabinet Meeting a meeting of the Ministerial Committee on the Global Warming Issue was held and was chaired by Prime Minister Noda. At this meeting discussions took place and approval was given concerning the Government response to the COP17 Summit which is being held in South Africa from November 28. I believe that Minister of the Environment Hosono has already provided further details concerning this meeting.


REPORTER: You have just mentioned that in the Cabinet meeting Prime Minister Noda made a statement concerning the promotion of local sovereignty reforms. Could you tell us the specific contents of his statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is a little long. Would you like me to read out the Prime Minister's statement on promotion of local sovereignty reforms? "With regard to the introduction of subsidies in the form of block grants, in fiscal 2012, in addition to expanding the scope of projects covered under these subsidies by the prefectures and increasing the amount of subsidies, further subsidies will be introduced for government ordinance-designated cities. I would like to aim for the scale of subsidies to be raised to 800 billion yen, including the increased subsidies to prefectural governments. I would like the ministers concerned to cooperate with Minister Kawabata based on the objectives of the Local Sovereignty Strategy Guidelines and engage in active and speedy efforts to achieve those objectives. With regard to the general abolition of ministerial branch offices, in the meeting of the Local Sovereignty Strategy Council held last week I reiterated my instructions to ministers to promptly conclude discussions toward the transition to broad regional alliances. Currently diligent coordination efforts are underway and I would like to ask the ministers concerned to further accelerate their work towards the creation of policy as stipulated under the Action Plan. In addition, I would like measures relating to centralized road and river management and "Hello Work" (public employment security offices) to be further accelerated. I ask that coordination and arrangements be implemented, led by Minister Kawabata, to ensure that specific policies can be clarified. My administration is steadily achieving results in the area of local sovereignty reforms, but in order to realize further reforms it will be necessary for all Cabinet ministers to make greater efforts. I am prepared to stand at the vanguard of these reform actions. I would like to request that all Cabinet ministers cooperate  with Minister Kawabata, who is the minister responsible for these efforts, towards the thorough implementation of Government policy." This was the statement made by the Prime Minister.

REPORTER: What does the Government know at present about the detection of radioactive cesium levels in rice from Date City, Fukushima Prefecture that exceed the regulation values?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In tests being conducted by the Fukushima Prefectural government, radioactive cesium levels were newly detected that exceed the Government's regulation values in rice produced in Date City. I have been told that shipping restrictions are now being considered for brown rice grown in the former Oguni Village of Date City and in the former Tsukidate Town of Date City, just as they were for the former Oguni Village of Fukushima City. Fukushima Prefecture is currently carrying out an emergency survey, and we will continue to implement an appropriate response while carefully examining the situation, including the results of the prefecture's survey.

REPORTER: On the same topic, nine kilograms of that rice has already been sold to consumers at markets. The last time this happened you reassured us by telling us that the rice in question had not been distributed. What is your response to this situation, however, now that the rice has actually been sold?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The prefecture is currently carrying out a tracking survey to confirm that the nine kilograms of rice were actually sold, so I would like to wait for those results before answering.


REPORTER: This question is with regard to the issue of rice. The survey currently being carried out by Fukushima Prefecture is a sample survey. Does Fukushima Prefecture or the national government intend to consider frameworks such as for surveying all bags of rice in the future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Now, Fukushima Prefecture is carrying out an emergency survey on 12 former municipalities in Fukushima, Date, Soma, and Iwaki Cities. As of yesterday, fliers had been distributed in the areas being surveyed requesting them to refrain from shipping rice until the survey results are available. That is where we stand at present, and we will form a future response based on the results of these surveys.

REPORTER: A local television network has reported that there is anticipation that Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol in December. Canada's withdrawal may impact on the frameworks that contain set numerical targets for developed countries. What is the Government's reaction to this development?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, it has been conveyed that the Foreign Minister denies this news from Canada. As the Prime Minister also commented today, from the perspective of contributing to the international community, Japan intends to meet its target of reducing emissions by 6% during the first commitment period. The decision made today, which has already been reported, is that Japan will not participate in setting targets for the second commitment period, as it does not contribute to constructing a comprehensive framework for the future. Canada, however, has yet to provide a clear stance on this issue, so I would like to refrain from commenting for the time being.


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