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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, April 5, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Suspension of the cooling system of the Unit 3 reactor of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • Okinawa
  • Japan's response to the situation in North Korea
  • Evacuation plan for Thai nationals in the Republic of Korea
  • Avian influenza


REPORTER: I have a question regarding the suspension of the cooling system of the Unit 3 reactor of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. In the Government's view at this point in time, what caused the suspension and what is the outlook for restoration?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The cooling system for the spent fuel pool at the Unit 3 reactor of Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station stopped at around 2:27 pm today. TEPCO is currently investigating the condition at the site. It has been reported to us that the temperature of the Unit 3 spent fuel pool as of 2:00 pm was about 15 degrees Celsius, that the amount of time it will take for the temperature to increase to the allowed limit for the operation of the cooling system of 65 degrees Celsius is estimated at roughly 14 days, and that the suspension does not pose any safety problems. TEPCO has announced that, the situation of the site permitting, the cooling system will be restored by the end of today at the latest.

The Government will take thorough measures going forward to ensure that these incidents do not reoccur.


REPORTER: This evening, I believe the Government will unveil the Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa. I believe this plan will be based on the assumption of relocating Futenma facilities to areas within Okinawa. Meanwhile, for the upcoming House of Councillors election, will the Government or the headquarters of the ruling party persuade the Liberal Democratic Party of Okinawa to stick to this Government policy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) is a public party and will run in the election on a public pledge to be decided by the party, I believe the LDP headquarters will naturally take such actions in order to embark on the election campaign according to this public pledge.


REPORTER: A short while ago, you met with LDP Secretary-General Ishiba at the party headquarters. What aspects of Okinawa did you exchange opinions about?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I reported to the Secretary-General on how my recent visit to Okinawa went. The Secretary-General himself will attend the conference of the Liberal Democratic Party of Okinawa tomorrow. Therefore, we discussed the issues of Okinawa in this context.

Also, today, Japan and the United States (U.S.) finalized the consolidation plan for the areas south of Kadena, and thus, will announce the plan at the Prime Minister's Office shortly after 6:00 pm. In this light, the Secretary-General and I also exchanged opinions with regard to this matter.


REPORTER: As was mentioned a moment ago, the consolidation plan for the areas south of Kadena will be unveiled this evening. Meanwhile, as was the case when you visited Okinawa the other day, I believe the Governor of Okinawa still maintains the position of not authorizing the relocation to Henoko. Based on this latest agreement between Japan and the U.S., how will the Government once again seek the understanding of Okinawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Let me first state that it is absolutely impermissible to allow Futenma Air Station to remain at its current location indefinitely. The Government and Okinawa are in complete agreement that the current dangerous situation must be eliminated as quickly as possible.

At the same time, we must think about deterrence. In particular, there are currently the Senkaku Islands issue and North Korea's nuclear and missile issue, and in this regard, Japan continues to face a critically perilous security situation. Amid these circumstances, Japan and the U.S. have agreed that the best option is to relocate Futenma Air Station to Henoko in view of achieving both the maintenance of deterrence and reducing the burden of the bases in Okinawa. We will strive to obtain the understanding of the people of Okinawa regarding this by providing sincere explanations.

REPORTER: I believe the situation in North Korea is becoming an extremely tense situation. For this coming weekend what preparations will the Cabinet make to ensure readiness for a contingency situation? I believe the Prime Minister will be going to areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and elsewhere.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not a question of whether it is the weekend or normal circumstances. It is the Government's job to ensure security, and we are constantly taking measures by organizing the best structure possible.


REPORTER: My question is in relation to North Korea. It has been reported that the other day the Thai Government asked the Thai Ambassador in the Republic of Korea (ROK) to create a plan for the evacuation of the approx. 44,000 Thai nationals, who are said to be in the ROK, should anything happen. The Thai Government is considering evacuating the Thai nationals to, for example, Japan in this event. Is the Japanese Government currently reviewing how it will respond should non-Japanese in the ROK evacuate to Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan currently has no responses planned for any country. It has not yet taken any responses.


REPORTER: Regarding avian influenza, can you please share with us the latest information if there is any? Also, regarding this matter, do you intend to consider moving up the schedule of the entry into force of the special measures act that was passed last year aimed at preventing the spread of novel influenza (Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza, etc., Preparedness and Response)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the situation of the avian influenza in China, it has so far been confirmed that 14 people have been infected, of whom 6 have died. As of now, I understand that no human-to-human infection has been confirmed. The Japanese Government is continuing to collect information.

As for the Japanese Government's response, yesterday I instructed the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare to collect relevant information. Government-wide efforts are currently being made to cope with this issue.

At the same time, with regard to the special measures act which was raised a moment ago, although under normal circumstances the act would enter into force by one year after its passage in May, bearing in mind this situation I believe the act should enter into force as quickly as possible.

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