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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The contaminated water issue
  • Central Japan Railway Company's plant to commence maglev train service in 2027
  • North Korea


REPORTER: In relation to the countermeasures for the contaminated water, Mr. Kaieda and Mr. Mabuchi, who were senior officials of the previous Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Government, revealed that at some point the Government was exploring the possibility of building an impermeable wall of frozen earth. Could you once again share with us the objectives of implementing this costly plan, which will be government funded and which was explored two years ago?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has decided to build an impermeable wall made of frozen earth with national funds. We arrived at this decision as we believe that it is an extremely effective method to prevent contaminated water from flowing into the buildings and to ensure that the water does not travel any further even if water leaks from the buildings.

REPORTER: Two years ago, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) decided not to use this method citing a lack of expertise and concern for burdensome expenses, which the DPJ Government agreed with. What are your thoughts about the decision made by TEPCO and the DPJ Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe that we should not comment on decisions made in the past. However, we believe that this impermeable wall made of frozen earth will be the most effective countermeasure. Led by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, a committee consisting of civil engineering and groundwater specialists engaged in a number of discussions on this method and concluded that it is indeed the most effective method. In light of this, we will go forward with this solution and firmly implement the countermeasures to address the issue of contaminated water.


REPORTER: Central Japan Railway Company announced the prospective stations and route for the maglev train, which is scheduled to commence service in 2027. Could you share with us your thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I actually went on one of the test runs the other day and it is a true culmination of Japanese technology. I traveled on the train at speeds in excess of 500 km/h but there was absolutely no discomfort, it was just like a regular shinkansen bullet train. I believe that it is a truly wonderful piece of technology. After much anticipation, the project is finally beginning with the aim of commencing services in 2027 and I have great hope that the project will progress smoothly. The Government will provide the necessary support measures to ensure the success of the project.

REPORTER: Central Japan Railway Company believes that commencing services prior to the Tokyo Olympics would be quite challenging. I believe that the Government hopes that the Olympics will help the recovery of the Japanese economy, but what are the Government's thoughts on the early commencement of the service?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Many people from abroad will visit Japan for the 2020 Olympics. I personally think that it would be great if those visitors were able to travel on the train, even if only on part of the route, to experience this wonderful technology that represents Japan.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning the nuclear facility in North Korea. There is information that North Korea has restarted its plutonium-producing nuclear facility. If the Japanese Government has any information regarding this, could you please share it with us?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan views the development of North Korea's nuclear program with great concern and is always gathering and analyzing information. We are aware that such reports have been made. However, this is a matter of intelligence and I must therefore refrain from sharing any details due to the nature of the subject. Through close cooperation with concerned nations including the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan will continue to demand that North Korea adheres to the United Nations Security Council Resolution, remains fully compliant with the Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks, and responds in a constructive manner.

REPORTER: To clarify, am I right to understand that the Japanese Government has not yet confirmed that North Korea has in fact returned the nuclear facility to an operational state? Have you been able to confirm the facts with the US authorities or the ROK Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is presently striving to collect and analyze information to establish the facts. However due to the nature of the situation I must refrain from commenting any further. I can however say that the Government holds strong interest in these developments and is currently collecting and analyzing information.

REPORTER: In relation to the Six Party Talks, the First Vice Foreign Minister of North Korea expressed his intention to seek the unconditional recommencement of talks. Could you share with us the Government's thoughts on North Korean attitudes such as this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Remaining fully compliant with the Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks is something North Korea is obliged to do and we would therefore urge North Korea to do so.

REPORTER: Do you then believe that the unconditional recommencement of talks is difficult?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will respond as appropriate by closely cooperating with the concerned nations.

REPORTER: Returning to the topic of the maglev train, although you might answer this question from your position as the Chairperson of the LDP's Kanagawa Prefecture Chapter, one of the stations will be built near Hashimoto Station. I believe that initially there were plans to have the track go to Tokyo or Shinagawa through Yokohama. What are your thoughts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regardless of where the station will be, I welcome the news that a station will be located within the prefecture. The maglev train will run in excess of 500 km/h, passing through local areas as well, and I understand that this wonderful service will contribute to the vitalization of the broader prefecture.


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