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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Arrangements for the meeting of Japanese and Chinese defense authorities
  • Official overseas trips by Abe Cabinet members during Golden Week holidays
  • Yasukuni Shrine
  • Policies on the export of nuclear technology
  • The restarting of nuclear power stations

REPORTER: I believe that this same question was asked this morning, but could you share with us the status of arrangements for the meeting of Japanese and Chinese defense authorities? If the arrangements have already been made, could you inform us of the objectives of the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that it is extremely important that we strengthen our constructive and cooperative relationship as a part of efforts to develop a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests as we exchange opinions on defense and security. The Japanese Government believes that we need to pursue level headed dialog between the defense authorities of both countries and maintain and encourage stable defense exchanges in the interests of strengthening our relationship of trust and improving transparency of defense policies. To this end, we are currently making arrangements with the Chinese Government in order to facilitate a meeting between Japanese and Chinese defense authorities. As the arrangements also involve the other party, I will refrain from commenting any further.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding official overseas trips by Abe Cabinet ministers, senior vice-ministers, and parliamentary secretaries during Golden Week holidays (starting from the end of April). I believe that quite a few officials will be traveling abroad and I would like to know what the Abe Cabinet policy is in relation to overseas trips. Could you also tell us exactly what plans you have in place given the current North Korean situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, you are correct that a number of ministers, senior vice-ministers, and parliamentary secretaries will be heading abroad. However, these trips will be made only after preparations to protect the lives and safety of citizens in any situation have been put in place. As for overseas trips, there are still many situations in which import restrictions on Japanese products still exist. I believe that as we work for the Olympic bid, addressing harmful rumors is very important. Therefore, we would like to request that these restrictions in various countries are lifted while we communicate that reconstruction efforts in Japan are well underway. I believe that harmful rumors in relation to the nuclear power station still persist in a number of countries, so we would like to first address this issue. These rumors are particularly prevalent in regions that trade extensively with Japan, such as Asia, North America and Europe. Therefore we would like to provide explanations and make strong efforts to resolve this issue. As you know the Government has formed the Ministerial Meeting on Strategy relating Infrastructure Export and Economic Cooperation and some of the destinations of the officials are countries where the overseas deployment of infrastructure systems and important infrastructure import projects are taking place. Therefore I believe that working to get overseas deployment underway such that we are the top seller in those countries is extremely important, and for this reason some officials will be traveling overseas during Golden Week.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question on a related topic. Has the Abe Administration communicated or given special instructions, in relation to what you just stated, at a Cabinet meeting or other meetings involving senior vice-ministers and parliamentary secretaries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I just stated, the harmful rumors concerning the nuclear accident are still very much prevalent in many countries. Therefore, we will communicate to those officials traveling overseas the Government's determination and objectives behind addressing this issue and encourage them to strategically pass on the Government's message.


REPORTER: I asked a question this morning but I would like to ask another question regarding the issue of the understanding of history. The Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea has criticized the Abe Cabinet, stating that the Abe Cabinet's understanding of history is questionable and very regrettable. Prime Minister Abe in response stated that members of the Abe Cabinet will not submit to pressure, which seems to me to be a trading of accusations. I believe that this may damage diplomatic relations between the two countries but is my understanding correct that the Abe Cabinet is unwilling to compromise?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Let me first set aside the matter of being willing to compromise or not. I believe that a visit by a Cabinet member to the Yasukuni Shrine also concerns religious freedom and is a matter of the heart. Cabinet ministers visited the shrine in a private capacity, and as such the Government leaves it to the discretion of respective individuals. A significant number of all-party Diet members visited the shrine yesterday, and I therefore assume that this also affected reactions from other countries. I believe that in any country, the expression of respect for those who sacrificed their lives for the nation is perfectly natural. At the same time, the Republic of Korea and China are both very important neighbors of Japan and it is not my wish at all that issues surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine influence bilateral relations with those nations. This does not at all affect Japan's stance of maintaining a broad perspective and strengthening our relationship with those countries.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding policies on the export of nuclear technology. Am I right to understand that the export of nuclear technology will continue to be driven through public and private cooperation as in the case of Turkey?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Prime Minister will visit Turkey sometime in the near future and the Japanese Government believes that it is our duty to share with the world our experiences and lessons learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station accident and contribute to the improvement of nuclear safety throughout the world. I also believe that Japanese nuclear technology, particularly its operational systems, are highly regarded by nations throughout the world. Additionally, as for the export of nuclear technology, the Japanese Government needs to provide nuclear technology, which has the world's highest level of safety, while understanding the situation and intentions of export partners. In doing this, we have a fundamental policy that nuclear cooperation involving Japan will be for peaceful purposes only. Therefore, any involvement we make will be made with this precondition.


REPORTER: Could you tell us if the Prime Minister will make a specific move or hold a meeting specifically for the export of nuclear technology during his visit? I understand what you are saying, however in reality operations of most of the nuclear power stations in Japan are currently suspended while their safety is being investigated. Some people have questioned the ethics of promoting Japanese nuclear technology as safe. What are your thoughts on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the very least I believe that it is a fact that Japan's nuclear technology is highly regarded throughout the world. As for Turkey, I must refrain from making any assumptions as to how the arrangements will take place or what the outlook is like, but I believe that negotiations led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other Japanese companies are currently underway.

REPORTER: Please allow me to move on to a different topic and ask a question about the restarting of operations at nuclear power stations. Yesterday on a TV program, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Motegi revealed that the restarting of the operation of nuclear power stations may take place as early as this autumn. Could you share with us how you view these comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have looked into precisely what he said and I believe that he meant to say something like what I will now explain to you. As I have mentioned previously, the new safety standard will be formulated by the end of July. Once the safety standard has been established, and if the reviews commence from that time, the time at which the reviews will be completed will be sometime after autumn at the very earliest. I believe that Minister Motegi was speaking about this in general terms and did not make reference to any specific times as to when operations would recommence. In theory the new safety standards will be complete by the end of July. After the establishment of the new safety standard, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will then determine whether each nuclear power station meets the standards and is safe. I understand that the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry merely stated that the results will be available sometime after autumn at the very earliest.


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