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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: Looking back on previous cases in North Korea, does the Japanese Government have concerns and awareness that a satellite launch may take place this time as well at the current point in time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is currently the case that a satellite has not yet been launched, and what the Prime Minister agreed with Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii was that diplomatic means should be utilized to ensure that a launch does not take place. Five of the countries that are party to the Six-Party Talks will be taking part in the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit next week, and this is something that President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea has been actively addressing. In that forum the five countries will engage in consultations concerning diplomatic efforts to stop a launch from happening, and it was on that point that the Prime Minister and Mr. Shii concurred.

REPORTER: On a related note, if it were the case that a launch took place, this could raise the possibility of an interception taking place, bearing in mind the provisions of Article 82.2 of the Self-Defense Forces Act that allows for such a response. In what type of scenario does the Government currently consider that an interception strike would be implemented?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This is not something that the Government has decided or is considering, but I believe that at the current point it is something on which the Ministry of Defense is engaged in various considerations. Above all, the ministry is currently engaged in efforts to gather information and conduct analysis of the situation. From a purely legal point of view it is a fact that among the responses that require the approval of the Prime Minister, but do not require the approval of the Diet, Article 82.3 of the Self-Defense Forces Act sets out "Measures for Destruction of Ballistic Missiles," in which it is stated that such a response may be taken "in the case when it is recognized that there is a threat of a ballistic missile, etc., flying to the territory of Japan and that destruction of such an object is necessary to prevent damage to the lives and/or property of citizens within the territory of Japan." This is a fact that is provided for in law, but I have not heard the details of whether or not this is something that is being considered as part of the deliberation process within the Ministry of Defense.


REPORTER: On a different subject, yesterday the members of the Osaka Prefecture/City Joint Headquarters Energy Strategy Council visited the site of Oi Nuclear Power Station, after which it was announced that the members were uneasy with the power station being restarted with insufficient measures in place. What is the Government's reaction to this announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware of the press reports concerning the visit to the power station by members of the Osaka Prefecture/City Joint Headquarters Energy Strategy Council. As I have stated on a number of occasions to date, the process for the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations that have been suspended for regular inspections is as follows: the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) will confirm the results of the primary stress test conducted by the power station operator, the validity of which will be further verified and confirmed by the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC). A final comprehensive judgment on the restarting of operations will then be made at the political level, taking into account whether or not there is local understanding for the restarting of operations. I do not believe that there is any discrepancy or difference between what has been said within the Osaka Prefecture/City Joint Headquarters Energy Strategy Council and what has been stated by the Government to date. Indeed, as it is the case that Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City, particularly Osaka City, are shareholders in the power company, it may be the case that a shareholder proposal will be made. I have not yet heard whether such a proposal has been made.


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