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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: The Bank of Japan (BOJ) a moment ago has announced a new monetary policy to pursue monetary easing by increasing funding with the aim of raising the consumer price index (CPI) to 1% for the time being in order to stabilize prices. What are the Government's thoughts on this policy? Also, Minister of Finance Jun Azumi indicated his understanding to reporters that the BOJ has set a de facto inflation target. Is it correct to understand that Minister Azumi's opinion is shared by the Government as a whole?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I welcome the BOJ's measures that were decided today, which are a proactive response for breaking away from deflation. I expect that the BOJ will continue to prop up the economy through its appropriate and decisive monetary policy and monetary management, all the while maintaining close exchanges of information and coordination with the Government in order to break away from deflation. Based on the current economic situation, the Government, too, would like to regularly exchange opinions and coordinate closely with the BOJ in other ways with greater frequency. As to the comment made by Minister Azumi, as you said, the Minister stated that the BOJ will, and I quote, "for the time being promote powerful monetary easing until it can be forecasted that the CPI will increase year-on-year to 1%." In this sense, Minister Azumi stated that he understands that the BOJ has set a de facto inflation target. The Government does not believe that it was an erroneous comment.


REPORTER: Yesterday, when the Mayor of Iitate Village visited the Prime Minister's Office, the Prime Minister responded that the evacuation zones will be reviewed carefully bearing in mind also the opinions of the prefecture and village rather than going by the rules. Does this mean that in addition to establishing zones by applying a uniform set of criteria, in some cases zones will be established individually based on the requests of the local governments? Also, what is the expected timeline for the announcement of the evacuation zones?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe what the Prime Minister was saying yesterday was that, while in general terms the Government is obliged to demarcate the zones according to the radiation dosage, the zones will be reviewed bearing in mind also the opinions of the residents rather than going by the rules, and that the Government will not be going by the book. In terms of the outlook, if I understand you correctly, that you are referring to the review of the evacuation areas, this is something that was decided at the end of last year. The aim to establish new evacuation areas by the end of March of this year remains unchanged.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Comprehensive Special Business Plan of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Today, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano said in his press conference following the Cabinet meeting that this is a matter over which he is allowed to wield arbitrary power. Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Azumi has said that if he is asked to, he would like to eventually state his personal views. What is the process by which the Government will make its decision moving forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The question assumes that TEPCO has requested the plan's approval. Nothing of the sort has taken place yet. (If we were to assume that such a request has been made,) a decision will be made based on a holistic consideration of factors, such as legal requirements, including whether TEPCO will embark on an extensive rationalization of operations or whether the plan ensures a swift and appropriate payment of compensations. Then, naturally the minister in charge will have discussions with relevant ministers, including the Minister of Finance, and in this process, a final decision will be made regarding the policy. At this moment in time, TEPCO has not requested the plan's approval and the Government has not decided on any policy regarding the approval.

REPORTER: My understanding is that Minister Edano is allowed to wield arbitrary power, and that Mr. Edano is the minister in charge of this matter. Is that correct?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yes, the minister in charge is the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.


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