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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 (PM)

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 meeting of the Ministerial Council on Monthly Economic Report and other related issues, which was held from 2:20pm today. With regard to the state of the economy, similarly to the previous month's report, it was noted that "The Japanese economy is still picking up slowly, while difficulties continue to prevail due to the Great East Japan Earthquake." On prospects for the economy, the report states that although the Japanese economy is expected to continue to pick up slowly, caution is still required due to downside risks that could stem from such factors as the further slowing down of less resilient overseas economies and volatile fluctuations in exchange rates and stock prices due to the Eurozone debt crisis. For details, please direct your questions to officials in charge of Economic and Fiscal Analysis at the Cabinet Office.

I have another announcement, which is about the fifth meeting of the Energy and Environment Council. A meeting of the Energy and Environment Council was held a moment ago, and discussion took place on the ideas for the presentation of options for the energy and environment strategy. The meeting considered ideas based on the three basic principles which were presented at the meeting in July. They are: 1) Realizing a scenario for reducing dependence on nuclear power; 2) Shifting to a new decentralized energy system; and 3) Having national debates based on objective verification of data. The discussion was based on the deliberation outcomes of such committees as the Cost Estimation and Review Committee, the Comprehensive Resources and Energy Commission, and the Central Environment Council, and today's meeting decided on the basic policy. In addition, reports were made on the status of energy-related regulatory and institutional reform initiatives of each ministry, and it was discussed that such initiatives need to be further accelerated. Moving forward, the Energy and Environment Council will present the options for formulating the strategy by next spring, and based on national debates, the strategy will then be formulated by the summer of next year. I believe Minister for National Policy Motohisa Furukawa has presented the details at his press conference.



REPORTER: A moment ago, a Japanese rating company the Rating and Investment Information, Inc. lowered Japan's debt rating. Among the reasons which the company gave was the lack of stepped-up efforts in the social security part of the draft plan for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, which would postpone increases in the social-security burden. Can you discuss your thoughts on the lowering of Japan's debt rating?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I'm afraid my response will be similar each time, which is that I would like to refrain from commenting on each and every rating given by private ratings companies. Japan's finances are in an extremely tight situation, and restoring fiscal health is a pressing issue also for reviving the Japanese economy and protecting the peoples' livelihoods. In order to achieve our goal of restoring fiscal health, we will first promote the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, all the while ensuring that we have the understanding and cooperation of the people. As such, we will steadily advance the restoration of Japan's fiscal health and make efforts to maintain confidence in Japan's debt. That is our opinion.


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