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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, January 18, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • An overview of the Cabinet meeting and ministerial discussions following the meeting
  • A personnel decision concerning Supreme Court Justices
  • The current status on the abduction of Japanese nationals in Algeria

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The first item is about the Cabinet meeting. I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved one general measure, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Mori made a statement concerning the number of suicides in 2012, and the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement concerning personnel affairs relating to the heads of special public corporations.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism made a statement concerning ensuring the prompt and smooth execution of public works projects, and the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning ensuring the prompt and smooth execution of public works projects by local public organizations.

At today's Cabinet meeting, two cabinet orders were decided by the Cabinet in order to establish the Regulatory Reform Council. I would like to note that the members of the Council were informally appointed as shown in the material in front of you.

I would like to speak about a personnel decision concerning Supreme Court Justices, which was approved at today's Cabinet meeting. It was decided that as Supreme Court Justice Masahiko Sudo retired upon reaching the retirement age, Ms. Kaoru Onimaru will be appointed as the Supreme Court Justice to replace Mr. Sudo. Ms. Onimaru, who was informally appointed as the new Supreme Court Justice, has belonged to the Yamanashi Bar Association from 1975 and the Tokyo Bar Association from 1978. In addition to her active service in civil trials, she has served as a civil law instructor at the Legals Research and Training Institute, a member of various committees of bar associations, and a member of the Central Minimum Wage Council of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. She has both an outstanding character and insight. Furthermore, we believe her appointment as Supreme Court Justice is particularly appropriate from the perspective of promoting the appointment of women.

Next, I would like to speak about the situation in Algeria. Following the Cabinet meeting, a third meeting of the Response Headquarters was convened. At the meeting, the ministers concerned shared information regarding the current situation, including the status of the confirmation of the safety of Japanese nationals at this point in time, and we confirmed the response policy of the Government. At this time, there is a variety of conflicting information regarding the safety of Japanese nationals, including news reports about casualties. The Government does not have any more definitive information than what I announced this evening (this morning), which is the notification from JGC Corporation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that at present, of the 17 staff members of the local corporation, the safety of 3 people have been confirmed and there is conflicting information regarding the safety of the remaining 14 people, which remains unknown. As early as first thing in the morning local time, Japan, together with the nations concerned, including the United States (U.S.), the United Kingdom (U.K.), and France, intends to strongly urge the Government of Algeria, through communications at the ambassador level in the country, to swiftly confirm the safety of the hostages. Also, after 8:00 am this morning, I reported the situation to Prime Minister Abe, who is currently in Bangkok. I then received instructions from the Prime Minister to continue to make every effort to confirm the safety of the Japanese nationals and work towards their rescue. As I have stated repeatedly at these press conferences, Prime Minister Abe who is on an overseas visit is briefed successively on the relevant situations and he issues instructions. With regard to Prime Minister Abe's upcoming schedule, this will be determined while taking into account how the situation unfolds. Considerations are being made while bearing in mind the possible adjustment of his itinerary in Indonesia including the cancellation of events, such as the lunch meeting with Japanese people in Indonesia, in order to gather information. The earlier return to Japan of the Prime Minister upon the completion of the major items on his itinerary is also being considered. The Government of Japan will continue to urge the efforts of the Government of Algeria, and in coordination with the countries concerned, including the U.S. and the U.K., make earnest efforts to gather accurate information and confirm the safety of Japanese nationals through the use of all possible means, and make every effort to rescue the nationals.

Excuse me, let me make one correction. Although a moment ago I said that I announced the information on the safety of Japanese nationals "this evening," I meant to say "this morning."

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