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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, March 1, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: Tomorrow, the Noda administration will reach the six-month mark since its inauguration. At that time, I believe the administration started off with many expectations that issues will be resolved by respecting the three-party agreement that was established at the end of the Kan administration. Looking back on the last six months, including the administration's response to the "divided Diet," what is your impression?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Perhaps I ought to respond tomorrow as it will be six months tomorrow. But since you asked-first, it is hard to tell if six months is long or short. Once it's passed you, it feels that time has also truly flown by. Now, the three-party agreement, which came up in your question a moment ago, well, of course that was taken into account to some extent when the Noda administration was inaugurated. Also, above all, indeed, as I have been repeatedly stating, the Noda administration's mission for some time to come is to make every effort toward the recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. The administration must also bring the situation at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear power station accident to a conclusion as quickly as possible and make every effort for the long road ahead with respect to the decontamination and the decommissioning of the nuclear reactors. In addition, on the economic front, the Noda administration initially started off by advocating the rebuilding of the Japanese deflationary economy. And thereafter, as the Prime Minister also said he will do back during his election campaign for the presidency of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), full-fledged efforts began to be made from the start of this year with regard to the consumption tax issue, an issue which cannot be avoided from the standpoint of maintaining and enhancing Japan's social security into the future. As such, the Noda administration started off with many issues on its hands. And much more efforts are still to be made to resolve these issues one step at a time, as these are enormous issues. I feel that the administration at the moment is tackling very complex and difficult issues. While there is not that much that can be accomplished in a period of six months, I believe the issues in front of us are being resolved one step at a time. Of course, while I'm speaking as a member of the Cabinet and I naturally expect there will be many criticisms, this is how I feel. One other point I would like to make is that, regarding the subject of the three-party agreement, there were elements of this which the Prime Minister has also apologized for at the Diet. There were elements which were slightly neglected among the decisions made in the three-party agreement, including the verification of the high school tuition waiver, and I fully agree that these issues need to be looked at once again and that the three-party agreement, which has been handed down from the previous administration, needs to be implemented carefully as a matter of importance.


REPORTER: President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea (ROK) delivered a speech at a ceremony in commemoration of the independence movement, in which he said that the issue of so called "comfort women" is a more urgent issue than all other outstanding issues between Japan and the ROK and urged the Japanese Government to address the issue. What are the thoughts of the Japanese Government? Also, how does the Government intend to respond moving forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe you are referring to the President's speech at the March 1 Independence Movement Commemorative Ceremony. As President Lee Myung-bak also said in his speech, Japan and the ROK share a variety of common interests and it is extremely important for the two countries to advance our bilateral relations. The Japanese Government believes that this is the general understanding. However, in this context, separate from the issue of property and claims, in order to offer realistic relief to former "comfort women" who have already become elderly, the Government and people of Japan the people and the Japanese Government worked together and established the Asian Women's Fund. Its programs in this regard have already been implemented, and the Fund has already been dissolved. The Japanese Government made every effort to cooperate with the Fund's programs for former "comfort women", including medical and welfare support programs, in the form of financial contributions and in other ways, and even after the Fund's dissolution, the Government has continued to follow-up on the programs of the Fund. Furthermore, at the summit meeting in December of last year, Prime Minister Noda responded that Japan will try to explore what can be done in regard to this matter. The Government's position is that it will continue to think hard about, and try to explore, what can be done even from now on.

REPORTER: Forgive me for asking another question. Ever since the President took office, he had been referring to the Japan-ROK relations as future-oriented so to speak, even at the independence movement ceremonies, and he was quite careful with his words. However, now, it feels almost as though we have gone back to where we started. I believe this is not a very welcome situation even for the people in Japan who were indeed expecting future-oriented relations. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: While it is a fact that at times difficult issues confront Japan-ROK relations, both Japan and the ROK, based on a future-oriented perspective, need to cooperate from a broader picture to ensure that these issues do not have negative impacts on Japan-ROK relations as a whole. I believe both leaders fully understand this.


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