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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, December 15, 2011 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The 11th Ministerial Meeting on the Overseas Deployment of Integrated Infrastructure Systems was held this morning. The attendees were the Prime Minister, myself, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and the Minister for National Policy. The meeting was also attended by Vice Chairman Takashi Kawamura of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) and Chairman Yoshihiro Watanabe of the Japan-India Business Co-operation Committee (JIBCC), in their capacity as experts.

During the meeting a free-flowing exchange of opinions took place with the experts concerning the export of infrastructure to India.

Following the completion of the agenda item relating to India, the Minister for National Policy made a statement concerning the major outcomes and results for 2011 as a whole, the details of which have been distributed to you.

Finally, the Prime Minister gave instructions to the meeting, in which he stated that "Demand for infrastructure will continue to expand, particularly in the Asian region, and Japan must therefore combine its strengths in this field to advance exports of infrastructure packages. We must expend efforts in this meeting to consider further measures to develop space and aviation as well as disaster prevention technologies and the creation of environmentally-conscious model cities. I want the public and private sectors to continue to work together to consider bold strategy." Based on these instructions from the Prime Minister, the ministerial meeting is planned to be held on an ad hoc basis in order to consider the formulation of measures to support specific package infrastructure export projects and develop region and industry-specific strategies.

I have one more item to report. The Council for Science and Technology Policy convened today from 9:20am. Today there was a decision made regarding the results of pre-evaluations for four projects amounting to more than 30 billion yen from among the research and development projects scheduled to be newly implemented from fiscal 2012 as important national research and development projects. Based on the direction, there was also a decision on the process leading up to the formulation of the science and technology-related budget for FY2012, aiming for a clearly defined budget formulation,  and the Council decided to offer the opinions to the Prime Minister and related ministers engaged in discussions on this topic. In addition, a report was received on the status of considerations in the expert study group on promotion of science and technology and innovation policies, which was then discussed. For further details, please direct your inquiries to the officials in charge of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy of the Cabinet Office.



REPORTER: Some news sources have reported that large quantities of enriched uranium that was unaccounted for have been found in waste. Please comment on the authenticity of these reports and whether the Government has reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would like to report on the facts. Last year, under the direction of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), records including on the content of waste were surveyed at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency's (JAEA) Oarai R&D Center. It was there discovered that nuclear substances contained in waste which had existed before the 1978 report had yet to be reported to the IAEA. In response to this, in January of this year MEXT ordered that the JAEA - the current institution in charge of these matters - carry out a survey that focuses on the presence of waste that potentially existed before the initial report. Furthermore, in June of this year MEXT ordered the Oarai R&D Center and all other JAEA facilities other that the Japan Nuclear Science Research Institute to conduct comprehensive surveys. Furthermore, in August of this year, MEXT carried out a comprehensive survey on the presence of unreported nuclear substances at all nuclear power facilities nationwide subject to inspections. As a result, recent cases were discovered where reports had not been made to the IAEA at certain non-JAEA nuclear power facilities. Further surveying is currently underway, but according to the surveys so far the majority of these nuclear substances are being managed as waste. Moreover, these nuclear substances are being managed in a proper and safe manner. In that regard, there have been no recognized safety problems. In either case, however, the surveying will be continued and we will continue to relay the progress to you all. That is where the facts stand as of now.


REPORTER: United States President Barack Obama has declared the end of the Iraq War. Please offer the views and comments of the Government of Japan on this declaration.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have also seen the news about this. On November 14 President Obama delivered a speech where he indicated that the United States' war in Iraq had concluded and that efforts were underway to construct a new partnership with Iraq. Japan welcomes the construction of a new partnership between the United States and Iraq, and anticipates Iraq to successfully build a democratic political foundation and become a stabilizing power in the Middle East. We intend to provide the assistance necessary to help Iraq develop its economy and society, and will work to strengthen bilateral relations.


REPORTER: I asked about this yesterday as well, but concerning the United States' sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran which was approved by the House and Senate of the US Congress in the form of the Defense Authorization Bill, there is concern that this will impact Japan moving forward. What are your thoughts on this? Also, it is being reported that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has dispatched staff to request the application of a special exception clause. How does the Government intend to respond to this at present?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I responded yesterday, Japan has worked together with the United States on the Iran issue and we are now communicating our ideas as you have indicated in your question now. I am not at liberty to comment on the content of those communications at present, but I can say that various communications are taking place. In either case, this is an issue that has the potential to significantly impact the global economy, such as the price of oil, so Japan will proceed with great care and caution. Moreover, moving forward I believe that we will participate in the necessary negotiations.


REPORTER: Today, the Bank of Japan released the Tankan, its short-term confidence survey, which indicated that the business confidence of major companies and manufacturers dropped to -4, thus worsening much more than expected. What is the Government's reaction to this and what is going to be your response moving forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: While Japan continues to suffer from harsh conditions due to the impacts of the Great East Japan Earthquake, I believe that the comprehensive analysis is that Japan is gradually recovering. The future business conditions diffusion index is worsening, but the Government anticipates that the effects of various policies implemented will continue to push the economy's recovery forward. However, and I say this every time, but there is the risk that the economy could take a downward swing due to the foreign exchange rate problem and other issues such as flooding in Thailand. The Government will continue to pay proper caution to economic trends.

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