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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, April 6, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Prime Minister Noda will be visiting Hyogo Prefecture tomorrow, April 7, and it has been decided that a visit to the Prefectural Hospital in Tanba City will be added to the Prime Minister's schedule, where he will engage in a dialogue forum with residents and staff. A press briefing sheet will be issued on the visit shortly. The hospital has been added to the Prime Minister's itinerary in view of the joint efforts made by residents and hospital staff to resolve the severe shortage of pediatric physicians, and the Prime Minister will engage in an exchange of opinions on the ideal format for regional health structures as part of the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems.


  • Prime Minister's attendance to the dialogue called "Peace of Mind for Tomorrow"
  • Restarting of operations at nuclear power stations

REPORTER: Tomorrow the Prime Minister will be engaging in a discussion forum for the first time. Could you provide a comment on the outcomes and significance of these dialogue forums that have now been implemented by the Government for almost two months and also a comment about the first attendance by the Prime Minister at such a dialogue forum?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The dialogue is titled "Peace of Mind for Tomorrow" and has so far been implemented in 28 locations, with 19 out of the 47 prefectures still remaining for dialogues to be held. To date these dialogues have been attended by Cabinet ministers, senior vice ministers or parliamentary secretaries, who have included the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, Minister of Finance and Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. The dialogues provide an opportunity for senior Government figures to speak directly with the public and are being held with the aim of deepening understanding about the significance of the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems. The dialogues are attended by a broad spectrum of participants who apply to attend the meetings and they are a forum for two-way dialogue. I have heard about the various meetings from the ministers and others who have attended and while it is true that various opinions have been expressed, I hear that the meetings provide a truly important opportunity for the Government to properly explain about policy. In order to further enhance the understanding of members of the public, the Government is engaged in unified actions to listen to opinions of the public and as a part of these efforts Prime Minister Noda will be attending for the first time tomorrow, where I imagine he will provide an overview of Government efforts to date.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations. In the 2nd standard of the safety standards that were issued yesterday, there is an item that states that the "Government" shall confirm that there will be no damage to nuclear fuel in the event of an accident. What do you mean specifically by "Government" in this instance?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In the case of Oi Nuclear Power Station, for example, where measures towards restarting of operations have advanced most quickly, a stress test, or primary assessment has been implemented. After this the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), which is part of the Government, has confirmed the results, after which the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC), also a Government body, has confirmed the validity of the test and of the assessment of NISA. That is what is meant by "Government" in the standard  to which you refer.

REPORTER: In terms of the final responsibility (for making a decision on restarting operations at nuclear plants), is it fair to say that under the current framework, the final responsibility lies with the meeting among Four Ministers on the Issue of Nuclear Power Stations?


REPORTER: In relation to the restarting of operations at the nuclear power stations, the Union of Kansai Governments has expressed a desire to be provided with an explanation from the Government also. What is the intended Government response to this request?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: A request was received from the Union of Kansai Governments. The request is signed by President of the Union, Governor Ido of Hyogo Prefecture and others, and calls for proper explanations to be provided to local governments about the assessments, based on the safety standards. The Government's position is that we seek to respond thoroughly to this request and provide explanations, although a specific schedule for such explanations has yet to be drawn up.


REPORTER: Returning to the issue of the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations, following the issuance of the new standards yesterday, Mayor Hashimoto of Osaka City was quick to express stringent criticism, noting that if standards are drawn up hurriedly there is little likelihood that a judgment on safety can be made and that in such a scenario it would mean the collapse of Japan. What is the Government's view of such comments, including those by Mayor Hashimoto, particularly in light of the fact that the Government seeks the understanding of local populations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is exactly for this reason that the Government must seek understanding, in order to avoid misunderstanding. It is not as if the new standards have been drawn up anew over the course of just two days. As you are well aware, since March 11 last year various safety measures have been put in place, one after the other, and the Investigation and Verification Committee on the Accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the commission of NISA have both provided input based on their findings and knowledge. The 30 point document that was issued recently represents a comprehensive list of the standards and operations that are currently in place, and has been created for the purpose of enabling the public to understand the measures with greater ease, without which it would be difficult to gain their understanding. It is this document that has been drawn up in the last two days. The document is still being subject to corrections, even today, and it will be duly explained when finalized. I believe that with regard to the criticism, there may be a misunderstanding arising since we have not yet prepared for explanation.

REPORTER: With regard to the issue of restarting operations at the nuclear power stations, various Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) project team leaders on nuclear energy-related matters have just met with Mr. Maehara, and it would appear that a final consensus within the party could not be reached. In view of the fact that within the DPJ there is still no consensus on the issue, do you think that the current environment is one that will facilitate a political decision being made on the restarting of operations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have not heard about such an outcome as you have mentioned. It is a fact that there are various opinions within the party, being coordinated by chair of the Policy Research Council, Mr. Maehara. I have heard that a chair of the Policy Research Council, Mr. Maehara has led a consensus within the party that the decision on the restarting of operations is one that will be made by the Government and not the party.


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