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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato

  • The Prime Minister's plan to visit Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I would like to report to you about the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Abe to Iwate Prefecture. Directly after his appointment, the Prime Minister paid a visit to Fukushima Prefecture, which was followed last month by a visit to Miyagi Prefecture. Following on from these visits, this weekend, on February 9, the Prime Minister will be visiting the two prefectures of Iwate and Miyagi, where he will see for himself the current status of reconstruction. In specific terms he will be visiting a disaster memorial facility in Rikuzentakata City, after which he will visit the site of a public housing project for disaster victims that is nearing completion. He will then visit the people affected by the disaster who are residing in temporary accommodation and listen directly to their opinions. Also, in Ofunato City he will visit a sweet factory and sake brewery to see for himself the reconstruction efforts being implemented in local trade and commerce. In Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture he will view the status of reconstruction of the fishing port and also the ice-making and ice-storage facilities that are indispensable for full recovery of the fishing industry.


  • Japan-China relations (the radar incident in the East China Sea)
  • The recent air pollution in China
  • The resignation of Governor Shirakawa of the Bank of Japan

REPORTER: Yesterday (Defense) Minister Onodera made a statement concerning the incident in which a Chinese vessel beamed its radar at a Japanese vessel. Following the statement yesterday has the Chinese government offered any explanation with regard to this incident?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Following the incident the Chinese government indicated that it would confirm the facts, but since then I have not heard anything.


REPORTER: There are some press reports that suggest the Government has decided to issue a request to the Chinese government calling for strengthened emissions controls on pollutants, in response to the recent air pollution in China. What are the facts behind these press reports?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: At the current time it is not the case that the Government has decided to call on the Chinese government to take such action. In the first instance the Ministry of the Environment will continue to engage in thorough monitoring of air pollutants and the Government seeks to respond appropriately on the basis of the monitoring results.

REPORTER: Although at the current time it is the case that monitoring is continuing, in the event that no improvement was seen, is there a possibility that the Government would then issue a request to the Chinese government?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Rather than speaking in terms of an improvement in the situation, I should note that the Government's recognition of the situation at the current time is that pollution is not at a level that would immediately impact people's health. Monitoring will continue to be implemented and the Government will make any response that is necessary.

REPORTER: Recently New Komeito Chief Representative Yamaguchi conveyed a personal message from the Prime Minister to the Chinese government. Was the Prime Minister aware at the time of writing the letter that there was a possibility that the Chinese had beamed a radar at a Japanese craft on January 19?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: A report had been provided to the Prime Minister about this matter.

REPORTER: On a similar note, when the Prime Minister gave the letter to Chief Representative Yamaguchi, did he mention to him the possibility that a radar had been beamed on January 19?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: In my position I believe I should refrain from comment about what was said or not said in individual interactions between the leaders of political parties.

REPORTER: With regard to the recent radar incident, as has been noted, various efforts have been made to seek dialogue with China, including the conveying of a personal message from the Prime Minister via Chief Representative Yamaguchi and also visits to China by members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). In the midst of these efforts the Chinese side has continued to enter Japan's air space and territorial waters and now this recent radar incident has occurred. What does the Government consider will be the impact on Japan-China relations of this recent incident?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Already protests have been lodged through diplomatic channels about this recent incident, pointing out that the beaming of such a fire-control radar is a dangerous act that could bring about a contingency situation, and as such is regrettable in the extreme. Strong requests have therefore been issued to the Chinese government to prevent a recurrence of such an incident. With regard to bilateral ties, as the Prime Minister himself has noted, Japan-China relations are one of our most important bilateral relationships and efforts are therefore made to ensure that specific incidents can be controlled and do not impact relations overall. In that sense, we seek to maintain our stance of a mutually beneficial  relationship based on common strategic interests and continue to engage  with China from a broad perspective.

REPORTER: You have just used the word "control" with regard to the recent incidents, but what is the Government's thinking concerning a method to ensure such incidents do not reoccur?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: To date there have been various discussions on the development of a Japan-China maritime communication mechanism, which was proposed as a means of ensuring a channel of communication between the defense authorities of Japan and China. Although such a system is still not in place, the Government intends to continue with efforts to ensure a working mechanism is constructed that will prevent the occurrence of contingency situations, or prevent situations that have already occurred from further escalating. In terms of controlling individual situations, I believe that efforts must be made to create such a mechanism.

REPORTER: This maybe an overly-detailed question, but with regard to the incident two days ago in which a Chinese vessel entered Japanese waters close to the Senkaku Islands for a period more than 14 hours, the Chinese Ambassador to Tokyo was summoned and a protest was lodged. However, yesterday, according to the press conference given by the Minister of Defense, with regard to the incident concerning the radar, the protest was made by the Director of the China and Mongolia Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a counselor of the Chinese Embassy. I get the impression that the level of protest was therefore downgraded for the radar incident. If you are aware of any reason why this should have been the case, could you share your thoughts with us?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: The level of protest and the timing such a protest is made depends on whether officials are present and able to be contacted. However, I would like to note that simultaneously with protests in Tokyo, the Minister (and Deputy Head of Mission) of the Japanese Embassy in China has also lodged protests. Therefore, on balance, I do not think that there is any need to focus unduly on the level at which any individual protest has been made.

REPORTER: So you are saying that it is not the case that with this particular incident the level of protest has been downgraded one rank to the working level?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Yes, that is what I am saying. As you have noted, in the case of the previous incident the Chinese Ambassador was summoned, and based on these past protests, on this particular occasion a method of protest was selected that would be most effective in conveying the message.

REPORTER: On a related note, in the past there have been incursions on Japan's air space by China and recently there was the incident in which a vessel spent 14 hours in Japan's territorial waters. In comparative terms what level does the Government ascribe to the most recent incident (concerning the radar) that occurred yesterday? I imagine that there must be levels ascribed in terms of timing and the level of protest. What degree of urgency is the Government ascribing to this recent incident?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I think that it is generally difficult to compare different incidents and assign differing levels of urgency. I would reiterate what I have just stated, namely that after reporting the incident to the Prime Minister, a protest was lodged with the Chinese government, stressing the highly dangerous nature of such acts. This kind of response and the series of responses that have been made to date are appropriate to the situation and are the responses that need to be made.

REPORTER: Does the Government consider that the recent radar beaming incident was implemented with the recognition of the Chinese government?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: No, the Government is not making any assumptions and as I have stated already, the Government has questioned the Chinese government concerning the facts behind the incident as part of measures to confirm what took place. These are the facts at the current time and no further assumptions can be made.

REPORTER: Yesterday Governor Shirakawa of the Bank of Japan (BOJ) announced his resignation. What is the reaction of the Government to this announcement and will it change the schedule for the selection of a successor to the governor?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: As you are aware, yesterday BOJ Governor Shirakawa visited the Prime Minister and announced his intention to resign on March 19. This is due to the fact that although his term of office expires on April 8, the term of office of the two deputy governors expires on March 19, and therefore the governor expressed a wish for the new leadership of the BOJ to start their terms of office together. My understanding is that it had previously been the case that the terms of office of the governor and deputy governors coincided with each other, and that a simultaneous change in the top leadership would be better for the BOJ itself, which is entirely natural. I hear that in their meeting the Prime Minister thanked the governor for his dedicated efforts during his term of office. With regard to the impact on the schedule for selecting successors to the top positions, I do not think it will have a direct influence as the Government has always recognized the need to consider the positions as a combined package.

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