Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  September 2013 >  Friday, September 13, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, September 13, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The contaminated water issue
  • Energy policy (including the restarting of nuclear power stations)
  • The special intelligence protection bill
  • The IAEA General Conference

REPORTER: During a meeting held by the Democratic Party of Japan in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, a senior official of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) stated with regard to the contaminated water issue that he believed that the current situation was not under control. It seems that his statement differs from the Government's view, or that it negates what the Prime Minster stated during the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session. Can you please comment on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the official was confronted by tough questions on a number of occasions and that this is what he stated. However, what is important above all is to prevent the contaminated water from impacting the sea. That is extremely important. Radiation levels are being monitored in Japanese coastal waters and in neighboring sea areas. Based on the monitoring results, we understand that the effects of the radiation are contained inside the port of the nuclear power station. Specifically, cesium levels across a wide area, from the coast of Miyagi Prefecture to the coast of Chiba Prefecture, including the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, are below measurable limits or are far below the standard levels. Continuous testing has not found any increases in cesium levels. With regard to the comment made by the senior TEPCO official, we have confirmed this matter with TEPCO. We understand that TEPCO made the statement based on its recognition that there are individual events occurring, including the leakage of contaminated water from the water storage tank. However, even should these individual events occur, the Government will ensure that the contaminated water does not impact the sea by taking preventive and multi-layered measures in accordance with the "Basic Policy for the Contaminated Water Issue" approved recently by the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters. My understanding is that it was in this context that Prime Minister Abe stated that the situation was under control. The Government will continue to take all possible measures.

REPORTER: Related to this, then you are saying that the statement made by the senior TEPCO official does not differ from the opinion of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on the circumstances in which Prime Minister Abe made his statement, I believe that the two statements are not different. It is true that there were individual events; that in actuality contaminated water leaked from the tank. Therefore, patrol activities, which heretofore had been conducted once a day, have been increased to four times a day. Furthermore, measures are now being taken to be able to respond immediately should there be any leaks. In addition, it has been decided that the Government will play a proactive role in implementing fundamental reforms. I believe it was in the context of these circumstances as a whole that the Prime Minister made his statement.

REPORTER: You stated that the senior TEPCO official made his comment based on his understanding of the individual events. However, if you take a look at what he stated before and after his comment, he stated that what is anticipated is under control. He further stated that however it is true that unanticipated events are occurring and that this is regrettable. He described rather candidly that because there were unexpected events, the situation was not under control. 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This matter has been confirmed. The official expressed his recognition that individual events are occurring, including the leakage of contaminated water from the water storage tank, and it was based on this recognition that he made the statement. It is true that there was leakage from the tank. In response to this, patrol activities which had been conducted once a day have been increased to four times a day, and the Government is doing its utmost to take temporary measures.


REPORTER: On the 15th, as the Unit 4 reactor of Oi Nuclear Power Station of Kansai Electric Power Company will be suspended for routine inspections, once again no nuclear power stations will be operating in Japan. Amid some public calls for zero nuclear power stations, what is your view regarding whether or not nuclear power stations should be restarted? I would appreciate it if you can also give your reasons.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With respect to nuclear power stations, no matter what the situation is, safety is the foremost priority. Regarding their safety, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has developed new regulatory standards which are the toughest standards in the world. Our top priority is to decide on the restarting of operations based on these standards. Therefore, in this context, the NRA is examining the question of whether or not nuclear power stations should be restarted, and I would like to refrain from making prejudgments at this moment in time. Regarding energy policy, it is extremely important that all possible measures are taken towards stable energy supply and demand, in order to ensure that people's lives and economic activities are not impacted no matter what the situation may be. It was also the public pledge of ours, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), to develop a responsible energy policy which is inclusive of the perspectives of stable supply and cost reduction. As the Prime Minister has stated to date, I believe it is the Government's role to provide stable, low-price, and good quality energy, while moving towards the direction of decreasing the dependency on nuclear power as much as possible.


REPORTER: The other day, in connection with the Olympic bid activities, you stated that you found "very discomforting" the remarks made by Grand Steward Kazaoka of the Imperial Household Agency regarding the attendance of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado at the IOC Session. You also stated that you found "very discomforting" the statement made by Supreme Court Justice Yamamoto, previous Director-General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, regarding allowing the exercising of the right to collective self-defense. Since your appointment to the post of Chief Cabinet Secretary, you have frequently said "discomforting." In what situations and for what purpose do you use this word "discomforting"?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As it will be evident when you take a look at what I stated before and after that statement in my press conferences, I say "I find it discomforting" if I think something is extremely discomforting from a commonsense perspective.

REPORTER: I get the impression that you are using this word deliberately.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As Chief Cabinet Secretary, I make statements in a responsible manner.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the public comment period for the special intelligence protection bill. This is an important bill that also has to do with the people's right to access information and freedom of the press. Some people express the opinion that the 15-day period, from the 3rd to the 17th of this month, is too short for the public comment period. Can you once again explain the reason for setting this timeframe and your thoughts regarding the possibility of an extension?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The public comment process is not a procedure which is conducted in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. In other words, there are no specific provisions concerning the period for receiving public comments. In the past, for a bill's public comment process implemented by the Government, the period was set at two weeks in a number of cases, as was the case in this particular bill. In any case, Diet deliberations will be starting soon, and we believe that we need to treat public opinions with importance. Therefore, I believe we will need to move forward while listening to the public's opinions.

REPORTER: From what I looked up, the period for the public comment process implemented by the Government has been 30 days or more in most cases. You mentioned the solicitation of public comments on a voluntary basis. However, even in the case of the bill for the partial amendment of the fair competition code concerning the display of specifications for fishing rods, which also solicited opinions on a voluntary basis, the period was set at 31 days. For an important bill, as you yourself stated, don't you think that the period for the public comment process is short?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While giving importance to the opinions of the people, thorough discussions will take place at the Diet. We will also respond thoroughly to questions asked at the Diet and go forward from there.


REPORTER: Concerning the issue of restarting the operations of nuclear power stations, earlier you mentioned low-price energy. If the restarting of operations is delayed and electricity prices go up once again, and furthermore, if the consumption tax increase that the Government is now considering goes through and is applied to the bills for electricity prices, this would be a double blow to household finances. If this happens, will you consider taking any measures in order to mitigate the burden on the people?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Energy is an issue we must deal with in a more strategic manner. For example, relevant ministers have met and already decided to purchase energy strategically. In particular, the first decision that has been made was to have the U.S. export shale gas, a very cheap energy compared to traditional energy. Another measure is to include coal in the lineup of energies produced at efficient Japanese power plants, which are the best in the world at limiting CO2 emissions in the generation of coal energy. Or another measure is to include renewable energies. The issue is, to what extent energy can be stably supplied to the people while making full use of such renewable energies in three years' time. We will work carefully to develop an energy policy while exploring all available options.

REPORTER: Thank you for taking my question. From the 15th to the 17th, it has been decided that Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Ichita Yamamoto will be attending the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference rather than the minister directly in charge of contaminated water measures. Can you please explain what led to this decision and what you expect from Minister Yamamoto?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Minister Yamamoto will attend the General Conference and explain the current situation of Japan's nuclear power policy. He is also scheduled to give a full explanation of the situation regarding the current problem of the contaminated water issue. Minister Yamamoto will be attending the IAEA General Conference to give a thorough explanation of the Government's current policy of proactively dealing with the situation and to seek the IAEA's understanding.

Page Top

Related Link