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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, December 13, 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 like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 17 general and other measures and the promulgation of a treaty and laws, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology made a statement concerning Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 32nd Olympic Games and 16th Paralympic Games, and the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning the December portion of the special local allocation tax grants of FY2011. Prime Minister Noda made a statement concerning temporary acting Ministers while Ministers in charge are on overseas visits and other matters.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of the Environment made a statement concerning future global warming countermeasures in light of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) (ministerial meeting).

Also, I have one other announcement. Today, the (first) meeting of the Ministerial Meeting on Consultations with Relevant Countries Toward Participation in the TPP Negotiations was held, which was also attended by Prime Minister Noda. At the meeting, in light of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) intersessional meeting which was held in Malaysia among nine countries from December 5 to 9, the Minister for Foreign Affairs gave a report on the findings of the information gathered in relation to the negotiations. Discussion also took place on organizing a structural framework for dealing with the consultations with relevant countries toward participating in the TPP negotiations and the mechanisms for providing information to the people. As a result, it was decided that a strong framework which cuts across the ministries and agencies will be established within the Cabinet Secretariat for advancing government-wide considerations involving all government office and ministries concerned and for determining the national interest from the perspective of the country as a whole. Specifically, the Ministerial Meeting on Consultations with Relevant Countries Toward Participation in the TPP Negotiations was established, which is chaired by the Minister for National Policy and is comprised of the Chief Cabinet Secretary and ministers concerned. Under the Ministerial Meeting, an Steering Group (senior vice minister-level) will be established, which will be chaired by Senior Vice Minister of Cabinet Office Katsuyuki Ishida and will be comprised of Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries, other senior vice ministers concerned, and others. Under the Steering Group, a Ministerial Meeting Secretariat will be set up with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Makoto Taketoshi serving as the Secretary-General. Furthermore, under the Ministerial Meeting Secretariat, three teams will be newly established. They are: 1) the Country Consultation Team, which will be responsible for the consultations toward participating in the negotiations with the nine countries currently participating in the negotiations; 2) the Domestic Coordination and Liaison Team, which will coordinate and liaise with domestic stakeholders; and 3) the Domestic Public Relations and Information Provision Team, which will provide information and spread awareness to people and various organizations on TPP and related items. The new framework consists of around 50 people in total at this starting point, and we plan to increase the number of officials as necessary based on the progress of the consultations. The new teams are expected to be established in the building of the Cabinet Secretariat. With regard to public affairs, it was decided that an appropriate framework will be organized, and steps will be taken from the perspective of providing as much information as possible which the Government of Japan has collected to all of the people and carrying out sufficient national debates on this matter.


REPORTER: This question is concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations team. In a previous press conference you indicated the Government's intentions to have a government representative on the team. Where will the government representative be included within the current structure of the team?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: We intend to request that a government representative participate in the consultations with relevant countries. The representative will join the Steering Group, however there is not a strong need to hold consultations at high level for the time being. We will carefully choose a government representative in the future based on the progress of discussions.


REPORTER: On a different note, a Republic of Korea (ROK) coast guard was stabbed to death after seizing a Chinese fishing vessel for illegally operating off the coast of the ROK. What is the Government's response to this? The incident took place geographically close to Japan, and as such should be of great concern to Japan. Does the Government have any plans to consider new measures, such as strengthening countermeasures to illegal fishing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, in the ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism commented on this - the minister comments to the effect that  that area is host to a truly large number of various incidents, not only to the incident in question. It seems that there are a large number of incidents, and the Minister commented that he is working meticulously to strengthen the current structure with a focus on the Japan Coast Guard. These issues involve each of the related ministries and the Government thus intends to work together to pay close attention to the situation. In terms of a diplomatic route - this concerns the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Japan and China will work to gather information in a proper fashion. As of present, the Government is of the stance to cautiously observe the situation.

REPORTER: In your opening comments you said that the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology reported on the bid for the Tokyo Olympics in the Cabinet meeting. Can you tell us about the specifics of this?


CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Hosting the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is tremendously meaningful in terms of international goodwill and sports promotion. Moreover, this would contribute to assisting reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. As such, the Cabinet has agreed on submitting a bid for Tokyo for the 32nd Olympic Games and 16th Paralympic games in 2020. The Minister's comments were in regards to acquiring the cooperation of each of the other ministers.


REPORTER: It appears that both the House and Senate of the United States have agreed to cut all funding for the transfer of United States Marines stationed in Okinawa to Guam. Please share your views on how the Government will handle the cost for transfer to Guam in light of this development, and whether this will affect the relocation of Futenma Air Station.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: From what information I have available, it appears that on December 12 the United States House and Senate have agreed to cut the some $156 million in construction costs that the United States Government had requested as a budget related to transferring U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa to Guam. Meanwhile, however, Japan and the United States have time and time again confirmed their commitment to the Guam transfer, and it is my understanding that there is no change in the United States' commitment to steadily implement its current agreement with Japan concerning the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including the transfer to Guam. Japan, too, remains firm in that we will work to ensure that the transfer of the U.S. Marines to Guam is steadily carried out in order to quickly reduce the burden on Okinawa while maintaining deterrence. Of course, we will confirm the Japanese budget, checking whether it will be frozen or not, and then implement a proper response - or, making proper decisions - in appropriate timing while taking into account the circumstances at hand.


REPORTER: With regard to the Cabinet's agreement on the Olympics, what process do you envision this to take moving forward? Will there, for example, be some sort of so-called Government guarantee?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: We do not have any plans to make any significant changes compared with how the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games have been handled in the past. We will carry out the procedures in the proper order.

REPORTER: Going back to the TPP, in your opening comments you reported on the information gathering during the meeting in Malaysia. Please tell us more about the details of this.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The information gathering took place in Malaysia from December 5 to December 9. Agreement was made on drafting a negotiations work plan by each working committee by mid-January 2012. Also, there were several other reports, including on plans for five meetings for negotiations in all fields during 2012. It also appears that discussion was carried out on how to handle countries that are newly joining the negotiations, where the nine negotiating countries at present agreed to maintain the traditional policy of not allowing observer participation and not permitting the sharing of treaty proposals with countries before their joining into negotiations was reconfirmed. Agreement was also made on not holding discussions with newly participating countries and countries requesting participation while a negotiation meeting is underway, and that it would be best if bilateral consultations on new participation were held in the capitals of each respective country. This type of information is being collected.


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