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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, February 20, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: With regard to the restarting of operations at nuclear power station, in the recent meeting of the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) Chairman Haruki Madarame expressed an opinion that with regard to the stress test implemented at Oi Nuclear Power Station there were some deficiencies in the primary assessment. To date the Government has stated that the process of restarting operations would be based on the results of the evaluation by the NSC, following which a political decision would be made. Given that the NSC has indicated that there were deficiencies in the primary assessment on this occasion, what response does the Government intend to take?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As far as we have confirmed about what has been reported in the press, it seems that Chairman Madarame didn't say that operations at nuclear power stations should not be restarted on the basis of the primary assessment alone. On July 6 last year the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) was requested to implement safety measures, however, the NSC is not in a position to make a judgment on the restarting of operations at power stations that has been sopped for regular inspections. Therefore, the role of the NSC is to confirm the validity of the evaluation of primary assessments undertaken by NISA including their process. Once the NSC judges that the primary assessment is valid, then as you are aware a political decision will be made concerning the restarting of operations, which will take into account the opinions and understanding of local residents.


REPORTER: With regard to the restarting of nuclear power stations, this afternoon it is scheduled that all nuclear power stations in the service area of Kansai Electric Power Company will be switched off for regular inspections. As we look to the summer months, operations of all nuclear power stations in western Japan will have been suspended. What is the Government's stance regarding the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Today, the Unit 3 reactors of Takahama Nuclear Power station is scheduled for a regular inspection and therefore processes are underway to switch off the reactor, which may occur today, depending on the time it takes for the processes to take place. Even with the stoppage of the Unit 3 reactor at Takahama Nuclear Power Station, it is expected that for the remainder of the winter months a stable supply of power can be secured. However, with regard to the power supply and demand balance in the summer months, if the nuclear power stations are not restarted and peak power demand were to rise to levels the same as last year or the year before, unless effective measures are in place then it is forecast that a power supply gap of approximately 10 percent will occur. This outlook is scheduled to be reviewed once again in the spring. Whatever the case, the restarting of the nuclear power stations where operations are suspended for regular inspections is a separate issue to that of power supply. Based on the methods outlined in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review at the end of January, NISA will confirm the results of the stress tests implemented by power station operators, the validity of which will then be further confirmed by the NSC. After this a decision will be made on the restarting of operations, taking into consideration the question of whether there is local understanding and general public trust concerning the restarting of operations. With regard to power supply and demand in the summer months, if no measures are taken the outlook is that there will be a 10 percent supply and demand gap if peak usage escalates to levels seen in the summer of 2010.


REPORTER: A medical examination survey of residents has been implemented by Fukushima Prefecture following the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The results showed that some residents had been exposed to external radiation exceeding the annual accumulated dose of 20 mSv that is set as the standard for evacuation. What is your view of the results of these medical examinations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware that this survey was carried out on a sample exceeding 10,000 persons. Among these people, 94.6 percent of the total had been exposed to levels between 0 and less than 5 mSv. A total of 4.7 percent had been exposed to radiation up to 10 mSv. The remaining 0.6 percent had been exposed to levels greater than 10 mSv. As you note there were two people whose radiation dose was 23 mSv, in excess of the 20 mSv standard. These results demonstrate that it is difficult to conceive that there will be an impact on the health of residents in Fukushima Prefecture due to radiation exposure, and this opinion has also been confirmed by other scholars. From now efforts will continue to be made to calculate the radiation exposure of each person, which will require that accurate records of activities are kept. The Government would like to request the cooperation of residents of Fukushima Prefecture in the basic research being implemented by the prefecture, which is being supported by the Government. In addition, health examinations to assess the status of health of residents in Fukushima Prefecture and also thyroid ultrasound tests for children are being initiated. The Government is therefore seeking to make every effort to ensure health management measures are implemented in the prefecture.


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