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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all I will give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 20 general measures, as well as the promulgation of laws, ministerial ordinances and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Prime Minister Noda made a statement concerning the appointment of a Chairperson of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and also about a temporary acting Prime Minister during the period he is away from Japan on an overseas visit. I made a statement concerning the status of the passage of bills that have been submitted to the Diet by the Cabinet.

Next I would like to report on personnel matters at the Cabinet Secretariat that were approved in today's Cabinet meeting. As of today Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Chikao Kawai will leave his post and it has been decided that his successor will be Deputy Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Masato Kitera, who has recently been handed his letter of appointment by the Prime Minister. Mr. Kawai worked in the position of Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary for two years and eight months, since January 2010, and during that time he worked tirelessly and made great efforts in various matters, including coordination between Japan and the United States following the Great East Japan Earthquake and also in promoting economic cooperation between Japan and other countries. In addition, he accompanied the Prime Minister on overseas visits and provided unerring support in summit level diplomacy. We thank him for these efforts. His successor, Mr. Kitera, worked as the Director-General of the International Cooperation and as Deputy Vice-Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is expected that he will take full advantage of the tremendous experience he has cultivated to date in the execution of his duties as Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary.

Next I would like to report on personnel matters at the Cabinet Office that were approved in today's Cabinet meeting. As of today, September 11, Director General of the Gender Quality Bureau of the Cabinet Office Atsuko Okajima will transfer to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It has been decided that her successor will be Ms. Tomoko Samura, attached to the Minister's Secretariat of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Also, as of today, Director General of the Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters Koji Haneda will transfer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has been decided that his successor will be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Afghanistan Reiichiro Takahashi.

Next I would like to report on personnel matters relating to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairperson and commission members, which was mentioned by the Prime Minister in the Cabinet meeting. As of September 19 it has been decided that Mr. Shunichi Tanaka will be appointed as chairperson of the commission, and that Mr. Kenzo Oshima, Dr. Kunihiko Shimazaki, Dr. Kayoko Nakamura, and Dr. Toyoshi Fuketa will serve as commission members. The establishment of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and these appointments require the approval of the Diet, however, regrettably it was not possible to gain the approval of the Diet prior to the closing of the Diet session. Legislation states that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should be established by September 26, and given the fact that we are still under a declaration of a nuclear emergency situation, it is considered to be necessary to launch the commission in a prompt manner. To this end, based on the relevant legislation, as of September 19, the five persons I have just mentioned will be appointed to the commission. This is the content of the statement by the Prime Minister as the appointer in the Cabinet meeting. In addition, I would like to report that as of today, these five persons have additionally been appointed as Special Advisors to the Cabinet. As these five persons cannot be officially appointed until the legal establishment of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in order that operations can be initiated smoothly immediately after the official establishment of the commission, it has been decided that until the establishment they will serve as Special Advisors to the Cabinet. Their duties as Special Advisors to the Cabinet will comprise preparations for the establishment of the commission, including the personnel affairs for the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and consultations on regulations relating to organization and procedures for the commission.

I have one more item to report. In today's Cabinet meeting the use of funds from the general account budget amounting to 2.05 billion yen was approved for the purpose of the purchase of the islands of Uotsuri-Jima, Kita-Kojima and Minami-Kojima, which are part of the Senkaku Islands. These funds are considered to be necessary experiences for the peaceful and stable maintenance and management of the Senkaku Islands. The Government wishes to expedite procedures to conclude a formal agreement of purchase with the owner of the three Senkaku Islands.



REPORTER: With regard to the definition of the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, will it be interpreted as having taken place at the point at which an agreement or contract is signed, or when the land register is changed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I have not used the term "nationalization" at any point to date. Until now the Government has leased the islands and as it has recently been decided that the Government will acquire the islands, naturally the date of acquisition will be the day on which the transfer contract is concluded.

REPORTER: You have just stated that you have never used the term "nationalization." What is the difference between the Government acquiring the islands through purchase and "nationalization"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As the Government has engaged in de facto maintenance and management of the islands to date, I believe that in that sense the situation will be not substantially different following the acquisition from what it was before.

REPORTER: Now that a definite figure of 2.05 billion yen has been announced as the purchase price, could you tell us about the basis for the calculation that led to this figure being arrived at?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, the value of the Government possessing all the islands in the group from the perspective of continuing to peacefully and stably maintain and manage them in the long term was considered. I believe that this method for calculating a price for acquisition is one that is endorsed by society. From that perspective the Government used an established method for calculation that is referred to as the "regeneration cost method." Through this method a figure is calculated based on the cost of regenerating or re-procuring assets that have no marketable value. Experts were requested to assess the islands using this method and the figure they arrived at was 2.05 billion yen. The Government therefore used this figure as the basis for negotiations with the owner and after various consultations the figure of 2.05 billion yen was decided. I will give you some further details in the hope that I do not have to repeat myself in the future. The method used to calculate the figure aims to arrive at a value for the islands themselves and takes into account the costs that would be required to regenerate the islands. The calculations were therefore based on specific examples of the unit price of Government-organized landfill projects in Okinawa Prefecture, which were used to hypothesize the cost of actually regenerating the islands. Given that the islands are 400km away from Naha City, the economic center of Okinawa, and also that they are unpopulated, the unit price was reduced to take account of these considerations. The figure calculated by the experts was therefore a result based on these various methods and considerations.


REPORTER: Today marks one-and-a-half years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Could you provide us with your evaluation of the status of reconstruction in the disaster-affected regions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Today is September 11, which marks the passage of one-and-a-half years since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. Following the establishment of the Reconstruction Agency in February this year, the Government has continued to cooperate with local governments in providing assistance for the daily lives of the people affected by the disaster and for the reconstruction of infrastructure. In terms of concrete examples, Special Zones for Reconstruction and reconstruction grants have been established and approved. Other efforts that have been implemented include the recovery of infrastructure based on project plans and schedules, the rebuilding of housing, the promotion of relocation to higher ground, and the formulation of the Basic Policy for the Reconstruction and Rebirth of Fukushima based on the Bill on Special Measures for Fukushima Reconstruction and Revitalization. Based on such efforts it is my recognition that compared to immediate aftermath of the disaster in March last year, efforts relating to recovery and reconstruction are considerably advanced and developed. Currently we are moving from the recovery stage towards full-fledged reconstruction efforts; however, there have also been observations that the progress is lacking speed and that assistance is not reaching the people who require it. The Government seeks to further accelerate efforts towards reconstruction, ensuring that all the structures in place work at full capacity, including the Special Zones for Reconstruction, systems such as reconstruction grants, disaster-related budgetary allocation, as well as the Reconstruction Agency and local response offices. I believe that a press sheet has been distributed to you all concerning the visit by the Prime Minister to the Reconstruction Agency to observe operations in action and offer his encouragement on the one-and-a-half year anniversary of the disaster.


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