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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, October 17, 2013 (AM)

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: My name is Kato, and I will be giving the press conference today on behalf of Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga who is attending the plenary session of the House of Councillors.


  • The offering of a "masakaki" (a votive stick) to Yasukuni Shrine by Prime Minister Abe and Minister Tamura
  • Typhoon No.26

REPORTER: Upon confirming with Yasukuni Shrine, I was told that as of this morning, the Prime Minister made an offering of a "masakaki" (a votive stick), and the same was true of Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Tamura. My questions are, were the offerings paid for by the ministers themselves, and in what capacity did they make their offerings? Also, if you can please explain their intentions or the background. 

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I believe that no matter what country you are from, it is natural that we all  join our hands in players together to pray for the repose of the souls of those who sacrificed their precious lives in battle for their country and express our respects. With regard to the matter you have just raised, these were actions taken by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare in their private capacities, and therefore, by nature, I believe that it is not for the Government to state any particular views on this matter. 

REPORTER: Then, if I may confirm, my understanding is correct that the offerings were paid for personally by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I am not aware of any information that suggests that they were paid for by public funds.

REPORTER: Regarding the damage from Typhoon No. 26, Izu Oshima Island suffered heavy damage. What is the status of the damage as far as the Government is aware of at this time? Also, how will the Government be responding going forward? I understand that it has been bolstering the response mechanisms, including the police, fire response, and the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). If you could please provide information on this as well. 

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: As a result of the effects of Typhoon No. 26, strong winds and heavy rains have caused damages over a wide area spanning from northern Japan to western Japan. According to information as of 8 am today, it has been confirmed that 18 people have died, 45 people are missing, many are injured, houses have collapsed or flooded, among other damages, including in Izu Oshima Island. The details are currently under investigation.

Once again, I would like to express my condolences to the victims and offer my heartfelt sympathy to everyone who has been affected.

Bearing in mind the instructions issued by the Prime Minister at 9 am yesterday, the 16th, the Government is making every effort for the search and rescue of missing people through the work of the 1st Division of the Ground Self-Defense Force as well as a mobile squad from the Metropolitan Police Department and the emergency fire response team from the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

Furthermore, a disaster response meeting among relevant ministries and agencies is scheduled for 1 pm today. Arrangements are also being made to dispatch a government investigation team, while monitoring the status of the search and rescue activities in the disaster area, among other factors. The Government will continue to make concerted responses by working with the relevant municipalities.

REPORTER: The damage was extensive. In Oshima Town, they did not issue an evacuation advisory or evacuation order. How does the Government regard this situation?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I understand that in the case of Oshima Town, while this was a localized phenomenon and therefore did not require the issuance of an emergency warning, the Japan Meteorological Agency encouraged the town to stay on alert, such as by issuing, from the early stages, a heavy rain warning, risk of sediment disaster information, and information about record levels of heavy rainfall in a short period of time, as well as by directly phoning the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the town several times.

With regard to the fact that an evacuation order or advisory was not issued as you just mentioned, we are confirming the facts and background. In any case, right now, the Government is making concerted efforts to first search for and rescue the missing people. Many people have died as a result of the response taken for this typhoon. Therefore, we are treating these outcomes with tremendous gravity and will carefully investigate whether or not we need to make any revisions to our ways of responding.


REPORTER: Related to the earlier question regarding visits to Yasukuni Shrine for its Shuki Reitaisai (Annual Autumn Festival), some are of the view that the Prime Minister did not visit the shrine this time out of consideration for improving the relationship with China and the Republic of Korea (ROK), which are opposed to visits to Yasukuni Shrine. Is it your understanding that the offering made this time was aimed at realizing summit meetings with China and the ROK?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: In any case, this was an action taken in his private capacity, and therefore, I believe it is not a matter that the Government should make further comments on.


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