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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Senkaku Islands
  • The Food Safety Commission's Expert Committee on Prions (in relation to BSE)
  • Japan-China relations

REPORTER: What is the status of the arrangements being made with the landowner of the Senkaku Islands on the sale and purchase of the islands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe I have spoken about this a number of times up to now. Currently, we are leasing the Senkaku Islands. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) released a purchase plan, and in this context, we have worked with TMG to understand the contents of the plan, while conducting various exchanges with the landowner. I will not go into the details of the exchanges. The process is still ongoing.


REPORTER: I understand that the process is still going on. However, according to the Government's viewpoint, at what point will the exchanges with the landowner be considered finalized or will the Government be able to reveal the details of the exchanges?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government will make a formal announcement when the process results in an outcome. When that point comes, the Government will make an announcement.


REPORTER: With regard to the Government's goal to nationalize the Senkaku Islands, does the Government have any plans to construct a port of refuge or other new facilities following the nationalization of the islands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: You asked about after nationalization. However, as the islands are not yet nationalized, at this point in time it is not appropriate for me to discuss what will follow nationalization.


REPORTER: The Food Safety Commission's Expert Committee has given an assessment, that even if import restrictions are eased for beef imported from the United States and other countries as part of the measures to prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the resulting change in risk would be minimal. How will the discussions be moving forward toward the easing of import restrictions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, I believe it is still not the case that the Expert Committee has "given an assessment," as you said in your question. I believe the meeting of the Expert Committee on Prions of the Food Safety Commission, which I understand is always conducted openly, is in session at this moment. I believe that the deliberations are now taking place objectively or in a neutral and fair manner based on scientific knowledge, and that the Expert Committee's conclusion will be announced or released probably this afternoon or later. Your question is alluding to the future. As this is an expert committee, I believe there is still a step that remains, which is that the Expert Committee must still report about its meeting to the Food Safety Commission.

REPORTER: After the outcomes are reported to the Food Safety Commission, what is the process from there?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: From there, I understand that the draft assessment report will be open to public comment. It will be open to public comment for 30 days, and then a final assessment report will be compiled. After that, the Food Safety Commission will report this to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW). Then, as part of the procedures, the report will be deliberated at MHLW and so forth. These are the steps that will be taken in sequence.


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the attack on the vehicle carrying Japanese Ambassador to China Niwa. Yesterday, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau notified Japan that it imposed an administrative detention penalty against the suspects. May I ask what your views are regarding the nature of the penalty?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe the Minister for Foreign Affairs has also responded to this question. Let me briefly give out the facts. In the late afternoon of September 4, the Chinese Public Security Bureau notified the Japanese Embassy in China that pursuant to the provisions of the Chinese public security administrative punishment law, an administrative detention penalty will be imposed against two men who took off with the Japanese flag and a warning penalty to another man for interfering with the normal driving of the embassy vehicle. This incident, in which the hinomaru, the symbol of the dignity of Japan, was stolen, is unforgivable on all counts. Japan lodged a strong protest to China and sought an appropriate penalty in accordance with Chinese laws. I believe the penalties against the suspects were swiftly decided based on the request of Japan. Moreover, I strongly hope that the decision to impose this detention penalty will prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.


REPORTER: Recently, I believe there have been a variety of troubles between Japan and China regarding the Senkaku Islands. How do you personally view the current bilateral relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Japan always has had strong ties from a broad perspective with China, which is also our major trading partner. At times, yes, it is true that there are problems, or "thorns," in the way the Chinese people say. Nevertheless, I believe China is a neighboring country with which we must further strengthen our strategic partnership.


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