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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, September 2, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The leakage of contaminated water from TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • Gusts believed to be tornados in Saitama and Chiba Prefectures
  • The situation in Syria

REPORTER: I understand that you spoke about contaminated water measures during this afternoon's Liaison Meeting of the Government and Ruling Parties. Can you once again elaborate on these measures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the issue of contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the Government intends to come to the fore and do as much as possible to ensure that drastic reforms are implemented swiftly. Specifically, the Government is currently taking steps to utilize reserve funds, strengthen the arrangements, among other efforts. Also, the Government intends to convene a meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters as early as tomorrow and discuss the response policy of the Government.

REPORTER: If I may ask another question, what exactly will this response policy entail?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It will lay out how exactly the Government will address the issue of water leakage and contaminated water and other details.

REPORTER: How did the Government arrive at the decision to hold a meeting of the Response Headquarters at this timing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Ever since the Great East Japan Earthquake took place, the Government has responded to the issue of contaminated water based on the recognition that this issue should indeed be dealt with by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) under the existing framework. As this is the first time that the Government is coming to the fore to take specific actions in response to this issue under the Abe administration, we have decided to convene a meeting of the Response Headquarters to discuss these and other matters.

REPORTER: Sorry to ask another question, Chief Cabinet Secretary. The Prime Minister will be leaving for his overseas visit the day after tomorrow. Based on the timing of this visit, the meeting will be convened tomorrow. Was it the Government's intention to take some kind of action before G20 or the meeting of the International Olympic Committee? Were its implications on the Olympics taken into account in any way in deciding on the timing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This has nothing to do with the Olympics. Until now, TEPCO has been dealing with the response to the contaminated water issue. For this effort, the Government has been providing logistical support. However, the Government judged that this arrangement must be drastically reviewed. The Government has decided on a policy to come to the fore and respond to the issue of contaminated water. Therefore, the Government has decided to convene a meeting of the Response Headquarters to discuss the response policy.


REPORTER: There is discussion about using the Government's reserve funds. In terms of what the Government can do specifically, will this be financial assistance? Although I believe this will be discussed tomorrow, can you please explain a little more about what you have in mind regarding the role of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe this will become clearer at a later point. However, for example, there is the fundamental problem that natural groundwater is flowing to the vicinity. Therefore, the Government believes that it must come to the fore and take drastic measures in response to this major problem.

REPORTER: In that case, for example, plans such as the one to freeze the surrounding soil - I believe they will be very costly. Will the discussion then focus on mid- to long-term aspects, such as whether the Government should provide funds for such efforts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Precisely, I believe the discussions will move in this sort of direction.


REPORTER: I understand what you mean when you say that the Government will come to the fore to respond to the contaminated water issue. However, to deal with TEPCO's or the entire accident at 1F, five trillion or ten trillion yen will be needed. In contrast, we are now talking on a scale of several tens of billions of yen. In terms of the Government only mobilizing a paltry amount of funds, I do not see the Government standing at the forefront. What are your views regarding this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government will be at the fore in responding to the contaminated water issue. Because this is an emergency. Therefore, by injecting at least the reserve funds, the Government will responsibly do what ought to be done. I believe it is very important that the Government steadily embark on these measures to assure the people and that this is the Government's responsibility.


REPORTER: Regarding a different matter, in Saitama and Chiba, wind gusts believed to be tornados have caused damages a short while ago. Does the Government intend to take any responses?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At around 2 pm today, wind gusts believed to be tornadoes in Saitama Prefecture and Chiba Prefecture as well as lightning in the Kanto region have caused damages. With regard to the state of the damages, while we received information that around ten people are injured, a wide area has lost power, etc. and the state of the damages is currently being investigated. The Government will carry out the initial response, including collecting information. At the same time, the Government has dispatched advance teams to the sites for the investigation. I ask that the people continue to closely follow the latest weather information, and even in areas where the wind has calmed down, be alert for accidents caused by obstacles which have dispersed onto the road, electric shocks caused by broken power lines, and other dangers.

REPORTER: In relation to the situation in Syria, you had said that the Japan-Russia summit meeting on the sidelines of the G20 was being arranged with a forward-looking outlook. With the United States (U.S.) and Russia currently having different positions, do you have any plans to take up Syria as a theme at the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Japan-Russia summit meeting is a continuation of the preceding meeting, I believe from a common sense point of view, the economy, territory, and other issues will be the themes. However, these are issues which will be discussed for some time to come, and it has not been decided what will be discussed specifically. The topic of Syria may very well come up.

REPORTER: Following-up on the previous question, whereas the U.S. and Russia have different positions, my understanding is that Japan's position is close to the U.S. position. What impact do you think the U.S.-Russia relationship will have on the Japan-Russia relationship?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe it will have no impact whatsoever. The Prime Minister has made Japan's position clear and has been on top of diplomacy. To date, the Prime Minister has already met with Mr. Putin twice. And I believe he will fully understand the position of Japan. While clearly stating to the U.S. those items which should be said, with regard to the Syria issue, as the use of chemical weapons on people, including children and the elderly, shall never be condoned , from a humanitarian standpoint, I believe the Prime Minister will make Japan's position clear to any President.

REPORTER: Regarding contaminated water, I believe it has been nine months since the launch of the administration. Contaminated water has long remained an issue, and I believe one can look at this and say that the Government as a whole, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, was slow to respond. Can you explain the Government's response up to now and why at this timing the Government is setting out anew to respond to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is true that there are a variety of ways of looking at this. Ever since the accident took place up to now, the recognition was that TEPCO will be the primary responder. And for the responses carried out by TEPCO, the Government has provided logistical support as much as possible and addressed contaminated water measures. However, at this point in time, the Government has judged that there are limits to TEPCO's incoherent responses and the Government needs to come to the fore and take prompt responses even if this entails the injection of reserve funds.


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