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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, February 20, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have an announcement regarding the forthcoming expert hearings on the Imperial Household system. I believe materials have been distributed to you.

As I have been saying, the said hearings will focus on the issue of the female members of the Imperial Family-an issue that demands an urgent response-and will examine this issue separately from the issue of the Imperial succession. These hearings will ask experts in a variety of sectors  to offer their broad array of input, namely on the significance of the activities of the Imperial Family as well as the type of scheme which shall be in place if female members of the Imperial Family were to continue their Imperial Household activities upon marrying non-members of the Imperial Family. This input will then serve as a reference for future examinations of such schemes.

At the first hearing on February 29, we plan to ask Dr. Akira Imatani, Professor at Teikyo University, and Mr. Soichiro Tawara, a journalist, to provide their opinions. At the second hearing between mid- and late-March-the date is yet to be determined, we plan to ask Dr. Masayuki Yamauchi, Professor at the Graduate School of The University of Tokyo, and Dr. Makoto Oishi, Professor at the Graduate School of Kyoto University, to provide their opinions. Following this, hearings will continue to be held about once or twice a month to seek the opinions of experts in a variety of fields. The dates and the participants of the hearings will be announced in advance once they are decided.

For more details about the hearings, please refer to the materials distributed to you. The total number of hearings, the upcoming schedule, and other such matters will be decided in the course of the hearings. If you have any questions about this, I would like to direct you to the Secretariat, which is the Office for the Preparation of the Revision of the Imperial House Act within the Cabinet Secretariat.



REPORTER: Yesterday evening, a Chinese vessel requested Japan to stop conducting the survey being carried out by a Japan Coast Guard survey vessel. What are your thoughts on this? If you could, please also discuss the Government's response to such acts which occur within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In the afternoon of February 19, a Chinese Government vessel indeed requested Japan to stop conducting the marine survey activities of the Japan Coast Guard survey vessel. These activities conducted by Japan are normal marine survey activities that are being carried out within Japan's EEZ. Therefore, Japan is now informing China through diplomatic channels that the request for the suspension of the activities is groundless. Japan has made it clear that it will not accept China's request for the suspension of the activities. China's response was that this will be reported internally. This is where we currently stand.

REPORTER: If I may confirm, was it yesterday that Japan conveyed this to China?


REPORTER: I have a related question. While China has come into Japan's EEZ before, this was the first time that China has come in this far. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Normal navigation in Japan's EEZ by Chinese vessels is something that happens frequently, and in that sense, this is nothing problematic. The issue here is that China has requested Japan to stop its normal marine survey activities.

REPORTER: Regarding this matter, you said that Japan protested through diplomatic channels. How was this done exactly?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This is a matter of diplomacy and so multiple channels were employed.


REPORTER: Can you discuss your thoughts on January's trade balance being the largest deficit since 1979?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As was announced today, the net trade balance for January 2012 was a deficit of 1.475 trillion yen, a record high for a one-month period. The second highest deficit was 967.9 billion yen in January 2009. Exports fell for the fourth consecutive month, dropping 9.3% compared to the same month of the previous year to 4.5102 trillion yen due to the effects of the overseas economic downturn, the yen's appreciation, among other factors. Imports increased for the 25th consecutive month by 9.8% compared to the same month of the previous year I believe for a variety of reasons, including the continuously high prices of fuels such as crude oil and the increased demand for thermal power generation fuel, such as liquefied natural gas, in the aftermath of the nuclear power accident. As a result, the trade balance recorded a large deficit. However, it needs to be taken into account that January is traditionally a month in which exports slightly stagnate and there is a greater tendency to record deficits due also to the effects of the New Year's holiday. While it is difficult to give a precise outlook regarding the future export and import trends given that they are impacted by a variety of factors, such as the post-earthquake reconstruction situation, the risk of an overseas economic downturn in light of the European debt crisis and other circumstances, and the impact of the yen's appreciation, the Government will be closely monitoring the future trends in exports and imports.


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