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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, February 10, 2012 (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 24 general measures, and also the promulgation of laws, draft bills, cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Kawabata made a statement concerning changes to the Basic Policy on Special Zones for Regional Government. The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry made statements on the use of reserve funds for recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and on personnel affairs relating to the heads of independent administrative agencies. Minister Matsubara reported on the results of the collection of data and compilation of its analysis on consumer-related accidents. Minister Furukawa made a statement about a partial amendment to the measures relating to the discontinuation of Cabinet meetings and ministerial discussions. In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting the Minister of the Environment made a statement concerning the promotion of recycling of disaster-related waste materials.

In the morning of Saturday, February 11, Prime Minister Noda is scheduled to visit Kashiwa City in Chiba Prefecture. He will be visiting a housing complex in the city that is engaged in advanced measures to deal with the issue of an aging society, including comprehensive community care, which is part of the comprehensive reform of social security and tax systems. He will engage in exchanges of opinions with the service users and other persons concerned. I believe a press sheet has been distributed about this visit.


REPORTER: The Reconstruction Agency will be inaugurated today. While there are expectations that the new agency will promote reconstruction, there are likewise concerns about whether the agency will really be able to overcome vertical department-based structures in government and actually accelerate reconstruction efforts. What is the Government's response to such concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe I mentioned yesterday too that the Reconstruction Agency will be inaugurated today. A structure consisting of regional bureaus and offices beneath the bureaus is also in place and various laws have also been passed, so I believe that with the structure, to borrow the words of the Prime Minister, we will be able to "speed up" full-fledged reconstruction. In addition, every effort will be made to ensure that the local reconstruction bureaus can provide a one-stop service to users, as we aim to provide a service that will be useful for local residents and will make them happy.

REPORTER: In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, did the Prime Minister make any statement or give any instructions concerning the inauguration of the Reconstruction Agency?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Today it was noted that Minister Hirano will serve as Minister for Reconstruction and in the ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting he received words of encouragement from Cabinet colleagues.


REPORTER: Yesterday it was discovered that China is continuing its drilling in the gas fields of the East China Sea. What is the Government's view of these actions and how do you intend to respond?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: There have been a number of photographs distributed by press organizations of the area, and as it has been confirmed that since September 2005 flares from drilling platforms have been seen in the Kashi gas field in the seas to the west of the central demarcation line between China and Japan, there is a high possibility that production operations are underway. In response to these actions the Government of Japan has issued a series of protests to the Chinese government, emphasizing that unilateral development cannot be sanctioned given a situation in which border demarcations have yet to be agreed. Our recognition is that the governments of Japan and China have agreed to engage in  cooperation in the East China Sea on the basis that it is a "Sea of peace, cooperation and friendship", and it is therefore regrettable that a situation has arisen that goes against the spirit of such cooperation. That is the Government's stance and recognition of the issue.

REPORTER: What is the outlook for restarting consultations with China concerning the gas fields?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: With regard to the handling of the demarcation of the East China Sea, excluding the areas of maritime demarcations which reached the agreement in June 2008, the positions of the Japanese and Chinese governments have yet to converge. We have therefore continued to make repeated approaches to China seeking assurances that it will not engage in unilateral development, while at the same time urging inter-governmental consultations at an early juncture.


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