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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, April 5, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Chinese vessels' navigation near the Senkaku Islands
  • North Korea
  • Former Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit to Iran
  • Restarting of operations at nuclear power stations
  • The Futenma Air Station


REPORTER: A Liaison Office has been established at the Prime Minister's Office in response to Chinese vessels nearing the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands. What is the current status and has the Government issued a protest to China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I will provide the facts of this matter. At shortly after 8:20am on April 5, Chinese fishery patrol vessels 202 and 32501 were confirmed by a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel as having entered the contiguous zone surrounding Uotsuri Island of the Senkaku Islands. Therefore, as of 10:00am the Japan Coast Guard reports that the Chinese vessels have been navigating inside the contiguous zone and have not entered Japan's territorial waters. For further details please direct your questions to the Japan Coast Guard.

REPORTER: On a related note, is the Government issuing a protest or taking similar measures through diplomatic channels?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all a Liaison Office has been established at the Prime Minister's Office. I am aware that a due response has been made through diplomatic channels.


REPORTER: In preparation for the launch of the North Korean missile, the deployment of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC3) system to Okinawa has been completed. Can we take the completion of the deployment to mean that preparations are now fully in place to respond to a contingency?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The preparations that you mention are one aspect of the entire operation, and tests are also being carried out on the J-ALERT and Em-Net (Emergency Information Network) systems as part of efforts to make preparations with a due sense of urgency.

REPORTER: Former Prime Minister Hatoyama is scheduled to visit Iran from April 6, and discontent at the visit was recently expressed in the Budget Affairs Committee by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Does the Government see any problems with the visit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, in my response to a similar question in the press conference yesterday afternoon, I stated that the visit was not being made at the request of the Government. At that point it was not clear whether the visit was being made at the behest of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), but the DPJ has since indicated that it has also not requested this visit. Therefore the visit is being made based on the judgment of Mr. Hatoyama as an individual Diet member, and it is therefore not for the Government to make any comment with regard to the visit.

REPORTER: It has been pointed out that the visit could lead to dual-track diplomacy. What are your thoughts on this observation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This is not a visit that is being implemented for diplomatic purposes by the Government or the DPJ, and therefore I believe that it is more akin to an individual visit or holiday.


REPORTER: With regard to the procedures for the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations, do you consider that within these procedures the words "consent" and "understanding" have the same meaning that we generally apply to them?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The only real difference is that the government is not obliged to obtain "consent" in the legal sense for restarting of operation at nuclear power stations. However, since the occurrence of the accident at Fukushima last year the standards, or rather new standards, for restarting of operations at nuclear power stations have been set out and it is therefore the Government's stance to provide explanations to local residents about the procedures.


REPORTER: On a different topic, a number of press reports have stated that with regard to the issue of the Futenma Air Station, the United States is requesting that Japan cover repair and maintenance costs amounting to 20 billion yen over a period of eight years. What are the facts of this matter and what is the Government's response going to be?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have seen the press reports you mention, but as they relate to the content of the series of Japan-U.S. consultations, I am unable to make a comment. To date, the maintenance costs for the facilities of U.S. Forces have basically been borne by the United States. On the other hand, it has also been the case in the past that if, by reason of significant aging of the facilities, rebuilding or repair work is necessary. Japan has borne some costs under the Facility Improvement Program of Japan within the scope of the allotted budget. The recent press reports are concerned with the content of the ongoing consultations and as such I will refrain from providing a response. Whatever the case, I believe that the most important matter is to ensure that we absolutely avoid a situation in which the dangers surrounding the Futenma Air Station are not resolved and the Air Station becomes permanently located in its current position.


REPORTER: The Choson Sinbo (People's Korea) newspaper is hinting that if sanctions are imposed on North Korea it will give orders for a third nuclear weapons test to be conducted. What is the Government's view of this report?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware that the Choson Sinbo has written various articles at great length, but I am not going to comment on individual articles.

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