Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  May 2012 >  Tuesday, May 22, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The restarting of operations at Oi Nuclear Power Station (in response to the statement by Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto)
  • Courtesy call by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the Chief Cabinet Secretary
  • The opening of Tokyo Skytree


REPORTER: My question concerns the restarting of operations at Oi Nuclear Power Station. The top shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Company, Mayor Toru Hashimoto of Osaka City, said that he read the statement you made in your press conference yesterday. On this basis, he made statements to the effect that your mention of the outflow of national wealth from Japan, irrespective of electricity supply and demand, effectively makes the discussions to date meaningless. He said that it was not clear on what grounds the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan was making its judgment, and that he found it inconceivable and hard to believe that you would deny the possibility of restarting operations on a temporary basis. Can you once again explain on what basis the administration will make a decision on the restarting of operations and reach a conclusion regarding the necessity of restarting operations? Also, will the administration not be considering the possibility of temporarily restarting operations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe I have been explaining this up to now at these press conferences. That is, safety is the number one priority of the Government, and we have developed a range of criteria since last year. Unlike normal restarting of operations after routine inspections, this being after 3.11, after nearly one year of consistently reviewing this matter, in other words, after carrying out the stress test and criteria processes, with regard to the Government, first the four ministers acknowledged that the nuclear power station was safe after meeting six times, I believe it was. However, as to whether or not to restart operations, this still requires a certain level of understanding of the community and the people. Therefore, since then, in order to obtain understanding, time has been spent to provide careful explanations to the people in the community. Thus, I find it problematical to receive a response which overlooks all of these processes that have taken place and which only takes into account the present situation. And with regard to the tight electricity supply and demand this summer, we had members of the private sector also investigate the situation. If there was to be a power outage, as has been widely reported, peoples' lives will also be placed at risk, beginning with patients relying on ventilators. At Kansai Electric Power Company, nuclear power used to account for nearly 50% of the electricity supply. If the nuclear power station is shut down immediately, this will lead to the outflow of peoples' incomes due to a massive increase in the purchase of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Also, increases in electricity prices due to increased fuel costs will be unavoidable. Of course, even before this, there is the issue of the electricity supply and demand reaching their peak. This is being explained also to the people in the community right now. I therefore find it problematical to overlook all of these discussions and deliberations and the Government's considerations up to today and to simplify the situation to I said this now and he said this now, and so on. The Government has carried out considerable processes to date to sufficiently confirm the safety. In addition, various studies have been conducted on the electricity supply and demand issue. We are saying that ultimately a decision will be made from a comprehensive viewpoint, in light of the necessity, including cost. I said yesterday that a decision will not be made by taking only the tight electricity supply and demand into factor and bearing in mind temporary  resumptions.

REPORTER: A moment ago, you had a meeting with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). May I ask what the purpose of the visit was and what discussions or exchanges took place?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: President Jakob Kellenberger of ICRC paid a courtesy call a moment ago. President Kellenberger is visiting Japan to attend the ICRC Donor Support Group meeting to be held in Tokyo on May 24 and 25, and I received the courtesy call on this occasion. I said that from before Japan has highly commended the activities of ICRC, an organization which works tirelessly to conduct humanitarian assistance activities in dangerous conflict areas, and looks forward to continuing to strengthen cooperative ties with ICRC. The President stated that despite the fact that Japan was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and faced a challenging fiscal situation, last year Japan made the largest ever contribution to ICRC as a so-called donor country. Also, he noted that ICRC opened an office in Japan in 2009, and today, two people from the office - the head of the office and another - came to the meeting. In addition, he said that at the headquarters in Geneva, over the last two years about nine new Japanese staff have been recruited. He expressed his appreciation for Japan wanting to continue to further advance its cooperative ties with ICRC. These are the things we discussed.

REPORTER: Sorry, I would like to ask one more question regarding a different matter. Today, Tokyo Skytree opened. Tokyo Skytree, as the world's tallest tower, is receiving a lot of attention as a new landmark of Tokyo in terms of demonstrating Japan's technological skills and for boosting tourism and so on. What are your expectations or impression? Does the Prime Minister or you have any desire to climb up the tower?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Today, all of the evening papers had coverage on this. I would like to speak about it from a slightly different angle, which is that radio and other broadcasts from Tokyo Skytree have started, and furthermore, digital terrestrial broadcasting of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and commercial broadcasting companies in the Kanto region will start from around January of next year. This is the primary purpose of the tower. It is expected to significantly improve reception environment in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and therefore, it also has a role as a broadcasting tower. Having said that, Skytree itself did not suffer any damages from the vigorous shaking during last year's major earthquake, and it represents the quintessence of Japan's advanced technological skills. I do believe these are also things we should be very proud of. Also, as is being widely reported, everyone is indeed watching this with great interest. It is expected to generate considerable economic effects as well, and it is also offering a bright, upbeat topic to the people. I was invited to visit the Skytree for its first showcase event on May 14. Although I wanted to go, I could not go due to other commitments. I am one of the people who definitely want to climb up the tower.

Page Top