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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: Tomorrow Shimane Prefecture will hold a commemoration ceremony for Takeshima Day. I believe that invitations were sent to seven members of the Government including you. Please tell us about whether or not you have decided to attend. Also, if you will not attend, please tell us the reason why.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, I believe that this is the second year government members have received such an invitation, but due to the schedule of Diet affairs I will not be attending.

REPORTER: Sorry to ask you a follow up, but have you considered sending someone in your place?


REPORTER: Is this due to diplomatic considerations in some way?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: At the least, this is a territorial issue, and it is my understanding that the entirety of Japan should gather information and knowledge and based on that find a solution. Today, actually, I received a proposal from the Oki Association for the Establishment of Territorial Rights over Takeshima, and had a variety of exchanges with them. At that time, I gave the answer that this kind of matter should be handled by the entirety of Japan. As for the question you just asked, at this time we have not discussed anything about diplomatic concerns.

REPORTER: Related to that, a while ago the members of that Association said that they had requested that the organization responsible for managing Japan's remote islands, which also manages the Takeshima Islands, be placed within the Cabinet Office. In response, you said that you wanted to consider this. Does this mean that you are for the idea, or do you feel that it would present some problems?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Association has not issued any specific request in the name of Takeshima, but as Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs are located within the Cabinet Office, there was a proposal to incorporate affairs relating to other outlying territories also within the Cabinet. I responded that this was a reasonable proposal and that it should be given consideration.


CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would like to correct my statement earlier. In response to the first question I stated that this was the second year to receive an invitation to attend Takeshima Day. In actual fact it is the seventh occasion for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and other officials to receive an invitation, and not the second year as I had previously stated.

REPORTER: There have been press reports that there will be a Cabinet decision in the near future concerning amendments to the Japan Coast Guard Act and the Act on Navigation of Foreign Ships through Territorial Waters, which would grant the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) expanded police powers including the power of arrest in the event that there was an illegal incursion into waters off outlying islands. What is the current status of considerations within the Government on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In addition to cases in which foreign activists are landing on outlying islands to assert claims of sovereignty, there are many cases in which foreign fishing vessels are entering and operation in Japan's territorial waters or in which foreign fisheries monitoring and survey vessels are making incursions. These incidents demonstrate the fact that the situation is changing significantly with regard to the oceans surrounding Japan. It is therefore necessary to execute relevant laws and ordinances expeditiously and appropriately in response to such incidents from the perspective of ensuring the safety and security of Japan's territorial waters. In the event that the JCG has to deal with criminal actions on outlying islands, it has been the case to date that as the JCG is by definition a water-based organization it does not have policing authorities on dry land. However, as there is no police presence on  outlying islands, it has been proposed that in order to enable the JCG to respond to such situations it will be necessary to amend the relevant legislation, including expanding the scope of the JCG's authority to investigate and question, and submit draft amendments to the Diet. It is a fact that preparations are being made to draft the required legislative amendments, and work related to which is being undertaken by the JCG itself. I suggest that you direct your questions to the JCG for further information.


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