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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, February 28, 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 15 general measures, and also the promulgation of draft bills and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Nakagawa made a statement concerning the implementation of the intensive suicide prevention campaign in March.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister for Reconstruction and the Prime Minister made statements about assistance for evacuees caused by the nuclear power station accident to return home. The Minister of Finance made a statement concerning the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting, from which he returned yesterday.

I would like to make a further announcement concerning the holding of the Cherry Blossom Viewing Party. Details have been distributed to you concerning the annual Cherry Blossom Viewing Party hosted by the Prime Minister. As you can see the party is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 14, in Shinjuku Gyoen. For details please direct your questions to the General Affairs Division of the Minister's Secretariat in the Cabinet Office.


REPORTER: You have just mentioned that both Prime Minister Noda and Minister Hirano made statements in ministerial discussions concerning assistance for evacuees caused by the nuclear power station accident to return home. Could you introduce to us briefly the content of the Prime Minister's statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The statement by the Prime Minister was made after the statement by Minister Hirano. The Prime Minister noted that assistance to help evacuees return home is a Government's important task and he had received a direct request from Governor Sato of Fukushima Prefecture on February 24, concerning the assistance. He also stated that in combination with the early entry into force of the Bill on Special Measures for Fukushima Reconstruction and Revitalization, which is already submitted to the Diet, it would be necessary for the Government to make concerted efforts to address the various challenges relating to assistance for evacuees to return home and requested further cooperation from Cabinet ministers.


REPORTER: With regard to the filing for bankruptcy by Elpida Memory Inc., yesterday Minister Edano stated his view that the collapse of the company could cause a public burden amounting to a maximum of 28 billion yen. What is your evaluation of the judgments made by the Government at the time, which was a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) administration, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which have resulted in this enormous burden being placed on the Government and on the taxpayer? Do you not think that the judgment made at the time was mistaken?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Three years ago, the Government in power was the previous administration, and as I believe Minister Edano has already stated, the authorization and judgments made at the time were based on objective criteria, in view of the financial situation of the time and after due legal procedures had been instigated. Minister Edano has also stated that these procedures three years ago were in compliance with the law and were appropriate. Until the sudden deterioration in the company's business environment over the last few months, it was actually the case that in fiscal 2009 and 2010 the company posted net profits in its accounts settlements, therefore I do not think your observation that authorization went beyond the limits of reason is a valid one. There are various reasons for the company's recent filing for court protection but as this was not part of your question I will not elucidate them here, unless necessary.

REPORTER: The president of Elpida has stated that the appreciation of the yen was the cause of the company's failure. Do you consider that the Government and the Bank of Japan's measures to address the appreciation of the yen have been inadequate?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is absolutely not the case that the failure of the company is due only to the appreciation of the yen and I believe that this was just one factor. While the appreciation of the yen is one factor, there are several others, including the impact of the earthquake, a slump in demand from dealers caused by the flooding in Thailand and also the significant downward pressure on prices.


REPORTER: Today the Cabinet has approved the draft bill relating to the granting of police powers to the Japan Coast Guard (JCG). Could you tell us about the objectives of the revisions to the law and the outlook for the changes it will bring, particularly considering the fact that the JCG will be granted powers of policing on outlying islands, and that the Commandant of the JCG and the Commissioner-General of the National Policy Agency will be coordinating their actions particular in outlying islands on Japan's borders such as the Senkaku Islands and Okinoshima?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Your question refers to the draft bill to amend the Japan Coast Guard Act, which was today approved by the Cabinet. In response to the changes ofthe situation in the oceans surrounding Japan, the Cabinet has today approved a draft bill that will enable the JCG to accurately execute its duty to patrol Japan's territorial waters. The draft bill aims to introduce the following: (1) mechanisms that will enable the JCG to respond to crimes committed on outlying islands, and (2) a system to order the swift exit of foreign vessels from Japan's territorial waters. You should direct your questions to the JCG for further details, but with regard to the scope of the outlying islands to which this amendment will apply, it is expected that it will apply to outlying islands where a swift response by the JCG could be needed. After the draft bill has been approved and enacted specific contents concerning the scope of the amendments will be notified. Those contents are currently being formulated and coordinated.



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