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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Japan-China relations (the Senkaku Islands)
  • The Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment (Japan's energy policy review)

REPORTER: Large-scale anti-Japan demonstrations are being called for in China. I want to ask once again how you will respond to these demonstrations, and how you will respond to the situations surrounding the Senkaku Islands.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: There are two points here. First, in regions around China from September 15 onward there have been some demonstrations that turned violent, and there have been incidents of arson or trespassing at Japanese companies, the destruction of markets and production lines, and other acts of looting. This has had the effect of causing the postponement or cancelation of a variety of exchange activities in the public and private sectors. In light of this situation, as the Government, first, we should now continue to take every possible measure to ensure that no further harm is done to Japanese nationals in China or Japanese companies. We have just lodged additional protests about this with China through diplomatic channels as well. Furthermore, at 11:50 am, I am thinking to open a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in which I will gather the vice ministers of each relevant ministry and agency to share information about this issue, including on our response. And then there is the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands. I am aware of information stating that a great number of Chinese fishing vessels have gathered around the Senkaku Islands. At the current point in time, first, at around 6:50 am, the Chinese fishing patrol vessel Yuzheng was confirmed to have entered the contiguous zone of Japan around Uotsuri Island in the Senkaku Islands. For this reason, an Information Liaison Office was established within the Prime Minister's Office, and we are strengthening our system for the collection of information. Also, in relation to fishing vessels, at the current point in time, we have received no concrete information stating that there are a large number of fishing vessels in our contiguous zone. For further details about the movements of the vessels in question, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) has been watching the situation from the beginning, so I ask that you inquire with them. Yesterday as well, the Prime Minister gave instructions that every possible effort be exerted to collect information, to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals, and to further guard the area around the Senkaku Islands. In any case, we will continue to work toward gathering information by coordinating with the relevant ministries and agencies, and at the same time, we intend to thoroughly implement warning and surveillance activities over the area. This is what we are thinking.


REPORTER: I would like to ask about the meeting of vice ministers from relevant ministries and agencies which you spoke of a moment ago. How is the Government of Japan thinking to react to the economic damage currently being caused within China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: At the meeting after this, we will be gathering the responsible people from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); the Financial Services Agency (FSA); and the Ministry of Finance (MOF) as well. And in relation to the basic damage being seen within China, if a remedy or other measures are  needed, I think basically measures should be carried out in line with Chinese domestic law. However, if there are various requests for support from Japanese companies to the Japanese Government, we will offer the maximum support possible I think. This is the kind of thing we are thinking of.

REPORTER: Regarding reports that Japanese nationals landed on Uotsuri Island this morning, what sort of detailed information is understood by the Prime Minister's Office, and how are you thinking to respond to this moving forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I will speak a bit about the facts of this matter. We have received a report that at around 9:30 am today, two Japanese citizens landed on Uotsuri Island. The current situation is, the police and JCG have issued a warning to the two, and after that, already from the JCG we have received the report that the two have now left the island. For details, I ask that you inquire with the JCG.

REPORTER: Related to that, concerning reports that Chinese fishing vessels may go to the Senkaku Islands, some are reporting that the Ministry of Defense has started a response based on the assumption of a maritime security operation. Is it true that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have started to move to the area near the Senkaku Islands? Also, I would like to ask whether or not the Government is considering the use of SDF.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: There is absolutely no truth to those reports. Concerning the sustaining of security in the territory, the JCG and police bear the primary responsibility here. In terms of our ideal for the protection of territory, naturally we need to conduct constant reviews, and have a variety of debate based on a variety of perspectives. I think there is significance to all of this. In any case, I believe that as the Government, the relevant agencies are now closely coordinating and will continue to exert every effort to protect Japan's territory.


REPORTER: A moment ago you told us about a meeting of the vice ministers of each relevant ministry and agency. What do you think about holding a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers? Also, did the Prime Minister give you any instructions today?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, to speak to the second point, two days ago the Prime Minister gave instructions on this. Then, yesterday, he also gave instructions, which I explained earlier. For that reason, in line with those instructions, today I have invited vice ministerial level personnel from each relevant ministry and agency to a discussion on our response regarding the sharing of information and so forth. As for the other question you asked on relevant ministers, we are not now planning any such meeting.

REPORTER: Excuse me, but could I ask who will be attending the meeting of relevant vice ministers?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, I will attend, as well as three of my Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries. Then, we will have Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretaries (domestic affairs, foreign affairs), and the Director of Cabinet Intelligence. From each ministry, we will have the Commissioner of the FSA; the Vice-Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications; the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs; the Administrative Vice Minister of Finance; the Administrative Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; the Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; the Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry; and the Vice-Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm - is the central theme of the meeting of vice ministers the response to the anti-Japan demonstrations, or is it correct to understand that it is for information gathering and discussions on the response to the incidents in which Chinese government vessels have entered the area around the Senkaku Islands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Centering on a grand perspective, in other words, looking at the issue from an economic and exchange side of things, today we will have everyone meet to first receive complete reports from each relevant ministry and agency about the current situation, and then understand those reports, and share information. We will not discuss this or that specifically in the way that you just mentioned. Rather, it may be better to say that we will talk about the overall Japan-China relationship.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the energy policy review. On Saturday, during his visit to Aomori Prefecture, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano made a statement to the effect that the Government approved the resumption of the nuclear power stations under construction, including Oma and Shimane Nuclear Power Stations. The day before that, Minister Furukawa stated that this was "undecided." When did the Government decide to resume the nuclear power stations under construction?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This has been decided from some time ago. In other words, permission for the installation of nuclear reactors and authorization of the construction plan had already been granted for the nuclear power stations currently under construction. The decision on the latest strategy does not nullify these permissions and authorizations. That is to say that the Nuclear Regulation Authority will be dealing with the forthcoming steps and confirming the safety from its independent position.

REPORTER: If that is the case, why didn't Minister Furukawa on Friday, when the strategy was decided, not touch on those circumstances, and instead, stated that "it was still undecided." What was the reason for the Government responding to the media's questions in this way?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: There may have been a slight misunderstanding on the part of Mr. Furukawa. In any case, it is as I stated a moment ago.

REPORTER: I believe the Government decided on a zero nuclear power strategy based on a policy of not constructing any more nuclear power stations. This policy of "not constructing any more nuclear power stations" did not even have any binding effect on this latest decision of the current administration. What is your personal view of this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe I have responded to this carefully a number of times, including at the time of the strategy's announcement. This is a program that will continue over the long-term. We have just decided on the direction of this strategy. There will be, for example, many challenges ahead. These of course include the nuclear fuel cycle issue, relations with the international community, and furthermore, the issue of new renewable energies. At this point in time, we cannot foresee clearly what developments there will be in new renewable energies by such and such a time. Also, there is the issue of the future international energy situation. In other words, there is no definite outlook for the entire situation. In this sense, as is stated in the document, the strategy identifies that we need to be modest and be able to deal with future situations flexibly. This is the major policy target or political target or goal of the Government that was presented in the strategy. It presents that the path to this goal must be examined with flexibility.

REPORTER: With this latest approval of the construction of Oma and Shimane Nuclear Power Stations, essentially, the only specific policy that the Noda Cabinet has decided in its nearly one year in office becomes the construction of new nuclear power stations. No concrete decisions, after all, have been made to decommission any nuclear power stations. Only the plan to construct new nuclear power stations has made any headway. Moving forward, how and by around when will the Government decide on a specific decommissioning policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that is a bit of an overstatement. If you take a look at the three principles of the latest strategy, you will see that we have decided to uphold the stipulated rules regarding forty-year limitation of the operation (of nuclear power plants). You can therefore foresee in what order the nuclear power stations will be decommissioned, with some happening in a few years. With regard to Oma and other nuclear power stations, the permission for the installation of nuclear reactors or the construction authorization was already granted some time ago. Thus, these nuclear power stations will be treated the same way as the nuclear power stations which are currently in operation - although a majority of them are now suspended. We are not thinking of nullifying any permissions or authorizations.

REPORTER: Based on the 40-year rule, will the Government be deciding on the decommissioning of Tsuruga or Mihama Nuclear Power Stations in the near future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This will be done in accordance with the three principles. So, I believe it is yes.


REPORTER: I would like to shift the discussion from a domestic to an overseas matter. At the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Japan reported on its new energy strategy which aims to have zero operating nuclear power stations by the 2030s. Can you tell us what the response was of the member states? Also, if this information has not yet been reported to you, can you tell us if you believe the strategy will obtain the understanding of the international community amid the various discussions taking place even within Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Let me give you the facts. I have received a report that on the afternoon of September 17, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Ryuji Yamane, who attended the General Conference of the IAEA, explained in his address as the head of delegation of Japan, the Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment which was decided at the Energy and Environment Council. On the same day, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane held a brief discussion with IAEA Director General Amano. During the discussion, I understand Director General Yukio Amano stated that while it is up to countries to decide on their respective energy policies, IAEA will be closely following the examinations being made by countries regarding the impact that Japan's strategy will have on them with respect to the handing of reprocessing or the handling of plutonium. As for your question on the response received at the IAEA General Conference, at this point in time I have not been informed.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding your earlier statement that (nuclear power stations will be decommissioned) in accordance with the three principles. If Oma is constructed and operated, then pursuant to the 40-year principle, it means that it will be operating until the 2050s. However, on the other hand, the Government is saying that there will be zero nuclear power stations operating by the 2030s. What is your perception of the consistency between these two?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The latest strategy presents the major policy target, political target, and goal of the Government. Our aim is to inject every possible policies and resources to achieve this goal. From this standpoint, it serves no purpose to rush to conclusions about what will happen to Oma. Our aim is to inject various policies and resources to make zero nuclear power possible by the 2030s.

REPORTER: Is it OK to interpret, then, that while there is the 40-year principle, Oma may be shut down or decommissioned before the end of its 40-year period?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: If renewable energies, along with other challenging issues, become feasible options, that is, if we can know the prospects with certainty, then for the first time we will be able to have more specific discussions about the future. However, as of today, we are not at the point at which we can make a decisive statement on this matter.

REPORTER: If I may return to the subject of the Senkaku Islands. My question concerns the Government's response to ships that approach the Senkaku Islands with the aim of landing on the islands. Today, the Government did not stop Japanese people from landing on the islands. In the future, should such ships aim for the islands using forceful methods, what sorts of responses will you consider taking? I would think the response would be strengthened compared to the previous Hong Kong example. Is my understanding correct that Japan will intercept such ships?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In principle, we are making diligent efforts to strengthen our warning and surveillance mechanisms in the waters, while drawing on our past experience. For example, in 1978, there was a case when several hundred vessels advanced into the waters. In addition, we will continue to take all possible measures for the patrolling of Japanese territories, including warning and surveillance, in close partnership and cooperation with the relevant ministries and agencies. That is our current stance.

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