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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Thursday, January 16, 2014 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It has been exactly one year today since the occurrence of the terrorist incident in Algeria on January 16 of last year, in which Japanese nationals were among the victims. I would like to once again express my deep condolences to the ten victims and their families. This incident was the first real case of crisis management that the Abe administration had to address following its inauguration. The Government has dealt with it with the determination that the sacrifices of their precious lives shall never be allowed to have been in vain. In order to protect the lives and security of the Japanese people, the Government will continue to take all possible measures to manage crises through the united efforts of the Government. I will have an administrative officer give a briefing later regarding the overall measures being taken by the Government as well as the details thereof.


  • The issues related to the collision between an SDF transport vessel and fishing vessel
  • The issues related to the Tokyo gubernatorial election
  • The issues related to the rehabilitation plan of TEPCO
  • The issue related to the Secretary General of the National Security Secretariat Yachi's visit to the United States

REPORTER: Concerning the collision between a transport vessel and fishing vessel, two people passed away as a result of the accident. Could I please ask you to explain the views of the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to the collision incident, two people had been in a state of cardio-respiratory arrest. I was informed that despite receiving intensive medical treatment, the two people passed away. I offer my sincere prayers to those who passed away and express my condolences. The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) is now investigating the cause of the accident and other details. It is extremely regrettable that such an accident has occurred. To prevent such incidents from ever happening again, the Government will continue to spare no effort in clarifying the cause of the accident and thoroughly ensuring the prevention of its recurrence.

REPORTER: The JCG is investigating this incident on the suspicion of professional negligence that endangered traffic. What information has the Government received as of now regarding the situation at the time of the incident, such as what actions the two vessels took to avoid each other?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At this point in time, I am aware that the JCG is questioning those people concerned with the transport vessel Osumi and the small vessel Tobiuo, as well as conducting a thorough investigation, including onsite inspection. For details, please contact the JCG. We have been informed that the investigation is still ongoing.

REPORTER: It has been reported that either the Osumi approached the fishing vessel from the rear, or that the fishing vessel approached the Osumi from the left side of the Osumi's rear. Has any of this information been confirmed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: On these matters as well, we have been informed that the JCG is questioning the parties concerned and conducting a thorough investigation, including onsite inspection. For details, please contact the JCG. We have not yet received any reports.

REPORTER: I have a question in relation to the Tokyo gubernatorial election. With regard to Mr. Masuzoe, the candidate that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) backs up in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi stated that Mr. Masuzoe is someone who left the LDP saying that the historic role the party had come to an end. Mr. Koizumi also said that there is no good reason to support Mr. Masuzoe. Listening to what he said, it seems to me that Mr. Koizumi's comments make a lot of sense. What is your take on this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The LDP's Tokyo chapter had decided to endorse Mr. Yoichi Masuzoe as a candidate for the gubernatorial election and submitted this decision to the party headquarters. I understand that the party headquarters respects the Tokyo chapter's decision and the LDP headquarters will support Mr. Masuzoe. We would be very grateful if Mr. Koizumi gives his support in this regard.

REPORTER: Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi is the Parliamentary Secretary for Reconstruction and is therefore a member of the Government. What do you think about a person in his position making such comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe this is not a matter the Government should comment on. As this is the intention expressed by the party headquarters, if possible we would like Mr. Koizumi to back Mr. Masuzoe.

REPORTER: Regarding the Tokyo gubernatorial election, there are rumors that LDP Diet members who seek an end to nuclear power stations will back Mr. Hosokawa. What would be your opinion if there are LDP Diet members who do not back Mr. Masuzoe, who is supported by the LDP's Tokyo chapter, and instead back the rival candidate, Mr. Hosokawa?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe the Government is not in a position to comment. In any case, as the party headquarters has decided to back Mr. Masuzoe, we would be grateful if other members back him as well.


REPORTER: Yesterday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) established a new rehabilitation plan. In the plan, it is stated that operations at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station will be restarted incrementally from July onwards. What is the Government's assessment of the plan's content, including these items?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund and TEPCO requested approval for this plan at the end of last year and it was approved by the minister in charge, Minister Motegi, on January 15 pursuant to the Act on the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund. In any case, I believe it is the very foremost priority of the Government to swiftly and steadily translate this plan for the revitalization of Fukushima into action, including compensation payments, decommissioning, and contaminated water measures. In this sense, the Government considers the success of TEPCO's reforms to be critically important for energy cost reductions, the outlook of the Japanese economy, and other such matters. The Government hopes that by steadily executing the items identified in the plan, TEPCO will push forward reforms and take all possible measures towards compensation payments, decommissioning, contaminated water measures, and the stable supply of electricity. The Government would like TEPCO to make efforts to increase its corporate value and as a result minimize the public's burden as much as possible. Furthermore, the Government would like TEPCO to realize its reforms in a way that contributes to accelerating the reconstruction of Fukushima. Regarding your question on the restart of operations at the nuclear power station in Kashiwazaki, the Government's understanding is that this was merely included as an assumption for the revenue and expenditure plan. Ultimately, it is the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) that screens nuclear power stations' compliance with standards. We are of the view that the approval pursuant to the Act on the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund does not determine anything with regard to whether or not the nuclear power station should be restarted, the timing of this, or other such matters.

REPORTER: I think it is stated in the rehabilitation plan that without the reoperation of Kashiwazaki, there may be further increases in electricity prices. Inclusive of such matters, what is your view regarding the necessity of nuclear power stations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As was set out during the House of Representatives election campaign and the House of Councillors election campaign, the basic view of the party and the Government is to make every effort to implement measures that will make effective use of renewable energy as much as possible and thereby reduce our dependence on nuclear power stations. Therefore, I believe it is critically important that efforts are made in accordance with this policy.

REPORTER: Regarding TEPCO's rehabilitation, if Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station ends up not being restarted, all efforts would be in vain, that is to say, the plan would amount to nothing more than a fantasy. You have been speaking cautiously about these matters, but what is the actual situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not speaking cautiously but giving you the facts. As safety is the foremost priority and the world's most rigorous safety standards have been developed, I believe it is most important that the NRA makes a decision based on those standards.

REPORTER: I believe Secretary General of the National Security Secretariat Yachi will be visiting the United States from tomorrow. Which U.S. officials is Secretary General Yachi expected to meet with during his visit to the United States?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on what I have heard, the Prime Minister has instructed the new Secretary General, Mr. Yachi, to travel to as many countries as possible after assuming his position. Therefore, I have been briefed that the Secretary General will hold close exchanges of views with officials associated with the National Security Council in the United States, the United Kingdom, or other relevant countries. In this context, I believe the Secretary General will meet with various relevant officials, including, naturally, U.S. National Security Advisor Rice as she is Mr. Yachi's counterpart.


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