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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, January 13, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Announcement of new Ministerial List)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Prime Minister Noda has recently decided to reshuffle the Cabinet. Following the reshuffle, I, Osamu Fujimura, will remain in my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary.

I would now like to announce the list of Cabinet ministers following the reshuffle of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Noda.

Announcement of Cabinet ministers

The five Special Advisors to the Prime Minister will remain in their positions.

Today at 2:00pm an attestation ceremony is scheduled to be held at the Imperial Palace and the first Cabinet meeting will be held at 4:15pm. Subsequently the Prime Minister is scheduled to give a press conference at 6:00pm.


REPORTER: One of the most prominent appointments in the reshuffled Cabinet is that of Mr. Okada to the dual positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Comprehensive Reform of Social Security and Tax. What was the purpose of this appointment and what expectations are there of Deputy Prime Minister Okada?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that the Prime Minister, who is the person with the authority to make Cabinet appointments, will talk about the aims of this appointment this evening. However, from last year the Noda Cabinet has faced significant challenges, including reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and 2012 could be said to be the year in which work towards reconstruction will start in earnest. Furthermore, although Step 2 of the roadmap towards the conclusion of the Fukushima nuclear accident has been completed, there is still a long and difficult road ahead of us. Also, there are the issues of extricating Japan from a deflationary economic curve and reviving the economy within the international economic community and also the issue of comprehensive reform of the social security and tax systems, which has been a source of great discussion within the party since the end of last year. I believe that the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Okada was made with the aim of strengthening the Cabinet structure towards tackling these various issues.

REPORTER: If you were to give a name to the reshuffled Cabinet, what would it be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would like to follow the Prime Minister's thought that the name will be given by the people later.

REPORTER: The two ministers against whom censure motions were passed by the House of Councillors have not been reappointed on this occasion. How was a response to these censure motions reflected in today's Cabinet reshuffle?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The response is shown in the outcome of the reshuffle as the ministers in question were not reappointed. In particular, the Prime Minister has constantly emphasized the importance of putting the right person in the right job under the current structure, and therefore the reshuffle has not been primarily driven by the censure of the ministers.

REPORTER: Are we to understand therefore that the censure motion was not directly related to the reshuffle?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The reshuffle was implanted for the purpose of strengthening the Cabinet structure and with the aim of engaging anew in various themes facing the Cabinet.

REPORTER: As you have just noted both the Prime Minister and yourself have consistently noted the importance of placing the right person in the right job. What, therefore, do you think was the reason for replacing five Cabinet ministers in a little over four months following the inauguration of the first Noda Cabinet?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I have just mentioned, the purpose of the reshuffle has been to strengthen the Cabinet structure in order to tackle anew the significant challenges  that we have engaged in to date, and also the further issue of comprehensive  reform of the social security and tax systems that cannot be avoided by any cabinet.

REPORTER: The reshuffle has resulted in the appointment of Mr. Okada in the new position of Deputy Prime Minister at the Prime Minister's Office. There are various ministers in the Cabinet, including you as Chief Cabinet Secretary, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for National Policy. At the current point have you received any instructions from the Prime Minister concerning the division of duties among the various ministers?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: No, I have not received any particular instructions at the current point. The title of Deputy Prime Minister is not one that is listed in statutes, and is therefore a position that has been created at the particular request of the Prime Minister to provide advice on all areas of national government affairs and operations. Also, in accordance with the provisions of Article 9 of the Cabinet Act, which I recently mentioned, the Deputy Prime Minister will be the minister of first precedence to take on the role of Prime Minister in a temporary capacity.

REPORTER: Minister Renho will be leaving her position following the reshuffle. At the time of the election of the party president, the Prime Minister noted that minister exclusively responsible for government revitalization would be established, a position that was taken by Minister Renho. However, following the reshuffle this position is no longer an exclusive ministerial portfolio. Does this imply that the issue of government revitalization  has dropped its  priority as a political issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In the statement that I have just read out, there were two terms used, "government revitalization" and "administrative reform." Deputy Prime Minister Okada is responsible for both of these portfolios. The Minister of State for Government Revitalization is a position within the Cabinet Office and the minister is duly responsible for government revitalization efforts through the work of the Government Revitalization Unit at the Cabinet Office. At the same time the position of Minister for Administrative Reform has been newly created, and as a Cabinet minister the minister responsible will oversee fundamental administrative and fiscal reform implemented by the Cabinet Secretariat. While the general concept is that government revitalization and administrative reform are similar in nature, the structures by which they are implemented are distinct from each other and separate ministerial appointments  have been issued for both of these. However, the concept is that they will share similar aspects and will both play a very important role.

REPORTER: Given that you have retained your position as Chief Cabinet Secretary, I would like to ask a question related to your reappointment. Over the last four months a variety of extremely difficult issues have arisen. As we move forward it can be expected that other difficult issues will persist, including the comprehensive  reform of the social security and tax systems and the question of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. Given that this perilous policy path will continue, I believe that as Chief Cabinet Secretary, which is the position regarded as being the right-hand man to the Prime Minister, you will be expected to join hands together with Deputy Prime Minister Okada in advancing issues. What are your aspirations concerning the way such cooperation will be implemented?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Rather than being possessed of great aspirations, I believe that it is incumbent on Cabinet ministers to perform their assigned duties properly and diligently. As you have pointed out there are a number of significant challenges and difficult issues facing Japanese society, and the Prime Minister's policy is to work to resolve these one by one. Accordingly, in my position as Chief Cabinet Secretary I will aim to assist the Prime Minister in this endeavor and it is very assuring to know that the Cabinet structure has been strengthened with the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Okada, who will also play an assisting role to the Prime Minister.

REPORTER: It's plausible that the appointment as Deputy Prime Minister of Mr. Okada, who has been elected two more times and who has a more extensive political background than Prime Minister Noda, will hinder the administration's ability to maintain communication or consolidate views within the Prime Minister's Office and administration. Do you have any concerns in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: To date, including when Mr. Okada was based at the party, he quite frequently made visits to the Prime Minister's Office to maintain communication, exchange views, and share information. In this sense, I believe Mr. Okada coming to the Prime Minister's Office will rather reinforce the communication channels.

REPORTER: When the Cabinet was formed the last time, I believe significant importance was attached to taking a conciliatory approach within the party. However, this time, with Mr. Okada joining, some worry about intra-party appeasement. In that respect, what is your view regarding the latest Cabinet formation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: People have their own respective opinions. I will not say which is correct and which is incorrect. In terms of Mr. Okada entering the Cabinet from his senior party post, I believe he was chosen with sufficient considerations paid to thoroughly unifying the party.

REPORTER: Deputy Prime Minister Okada was the person who formed the three-party consultation framework during his days as DPJ Secretary General, and I believe there are expectations for him to play an intermediary role in the ruling-opposing party consultations. What are the expectations for Deputy Prime Minister Okada as a member of the Government concerning his role in the ruling-opposing party consultations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Moving forward, I believe roles will be divided among the respective persons. Nevertheless, consultations between the ruling and opposition parties are indeed party-to-party talks, and I believe the consultations with the other parties will proceed under DPJ Secretary General Koshiishi.

REPORTER: As you mention, it has been pointed out that Mr. Okada joining the Government will make it difficult for him to stay involved in the ruling-opposition party consultations. On this matter, what considerations were made in selecting Mr. Okada?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Deputy Prime Minister Okada was not in a position to be involved in the party's ruling-opposition party consultations since the inauguration of the Noda administration, and I believe nothing has changed from before. I believe the consultations between the ruling and opposition parties are after all consultations with the other parties which take place under Secretary General Koshiishi, with the Secretary General and the Policy Research Committee Chair fulfilling their respective roles.

REPORTER: Along with the latest reshuffle, are any considerations being made regarding changes of any Senior Vice Ministers or Parliamentary Secretaries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I read out a moment ago, the appointment of Minister Matsubara has necessitated the appointment of his successor for the post of Senior Vice Minister. Since there is a possibility of other related Senior Vice Ministers being changed, we would like to swiftly proceed with the selections and appoint them as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: Do you foresee that the appointments will be made by the end of today?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: For the posts of Senior Vice Minister and below, since the ministers will be making the appointments and the first Cabinet meeting will be held today, I believe the appointments will be made afterwards, in other words, not by the end of today.

REPORTER: My question also concerns the appointment of the ministers' replacements. I believe party posts will be decided basically by the party. With Mr. Hirano, Secretary General of the House of Councillors, being appointed as a Cabinet member, however, party posts will be reviewed to some extent. In the sense of the meeting between the Government and the three senior officials of the DPJ, what is the time schedule for the appointments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Based on the announcement of the lineup of the reshuffled Noda Cabinet a moment ago today, I believe the appointments will be made after this evening. I believe the party will be making personnel changes. Since a party meeting will be held next Monday, I suspect that the work will be done with that in mind.

REPORTER: Will the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Okada result in changes of any members of the meeting between the Government and the three senior officials of the DPJ?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that will be considered going forward.

REPORTER: Will the considerations include examination of issues?


REPORTER: In February, the Reconstruction Agency will be launched and there will be one additional minister. It follows then that while the Cabinet has just been formed, changes will again be made in relation to the Agency. Do you already have your mind made up with regard to the changes that will be made?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Since I believe your question is about whether the Prime Minister, who holds the right to make personnel decisions, has his mind made up, I am not able to answer your question. The Reconstruction Agency will be launched probably in early February, and in that case, one minister and two senior vice minister posts will be newly established. I believe the Prime Minister will make his considerations at that stage.

REPORTER: When the Noda administration was launched and ministers were chosen based on considerations for DPJ groups, I believe one of the keywords was to "place the right person in the right job." Is my understanding correct that the members of the latest reshuffled Cabinet were also decided based on the idea of placing the right person in the right job?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Personnel decisions are naturally always made in view of such goals. Rarely is a personnel decision made because a certain person needs to occupy a particular post. I believe personnel decisions have to be made in light of the fact that various people are right for the respective posts.


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