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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The issue regarding the investigation of the STAP cell research
  • The capital injection to HEPCO from the Development Bank of Japan
  • The issue of the situation in Ukraine
  • The issue concerning the Japan-North Korea working- level consultations in 2008

REPORTER: I have a question concerning stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cell research. The investigative committee of RIKEN held a press conference and reported the results of the investigation. The investigation concluded that there were instances of research misconduct in the paper on STAP cells, including the fabrication of data. I would first like to ask for your thoughts on this matter.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the investigation conducted by RIKEN into the paper on STAP cells has confirmed two instances of research misconduct and other facts. I find this situation to be truly regrettable. The Government takes this incident very seriously. I am aware that based on the findings of the investigative committee, RIKEN has decided to establish a Reform Committee for the Prevention of Research Misconduct composed of outside experts to prevent future occurrences of research misconduct. I am also aware that an internal reform office headed by the RIKEN president will be established. The Government will provide guidance to RIKEN to ensure that it definitely implements these measures to prevent future recurrence.

REPORTER: RIKEN is a candidate to become a designated national research and development entity. Is it possible this incident could lead to the cancellation of such a designation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, RIKEN is in fact a candidate to become a designated national research and development entity. The Government will make a final decision on whether to designate RIKEN as such an entity by Cabinet approval of draft legislation. Whatever the case, the Government will make an appropriate response, having thoroughly probed the governance and other structures of RIKEN.

REPORTER: What is your current view of RIKEN’s governance structures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Following the emergence of this issue an investigative committee was launched. The results of the investigation indicate that there was a lack of ethics on the part of the researcher responsible, a lack of clarity concerning the division of responsibility among the research team, including senior researchers, and that there were issues with RIKEN’s checking functions and management of processes. RIKEN is now implementing measures to prevent future recurrence of research misconduct. However, it is regrettable in the sense that this issue arose in the first place.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the draft bill to make RIKEN a designated national research and development entity. The Government had initially aimed to achieve the passage of such a bill during the current session of the Diet. However, if that is still the target, there will not be sufficient time to achieve the bill’s passage unless procedures within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are conducted at the very least by the end of this month. I think it will take considerably longer than that if the Government intends to closely examine the efforts to prevent future recurrence and other such measures before making a decision. When is the Government aiming to come to a decision on the draft bill regarding RIKEN?


CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have been informed that Ms. Obokata would like to decide on a response to this matter after thoroughly reviewing the report of the investigative committee and she was therefore absent from the press conference today. Under the rules and regulations of RIKEN, if Ms. Obokata were to lodge an appeal, the investigative committee must consider the points, reasons, and other details of the appeal and examine whether or not to implement a re-investigation. I assume an appropriate decision will be made in this case too, in accordance with such rules and regulations.

REPORTER: Do you think that this case will have any impact on the trustworthiness of Japan’s science and technology, or on the Government’s growth strategy?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, given that the investigation has identified at least two instances of research misconduct, in that sense, and as I noted before, the Government takes this matter very seriously. The Government will first of all provide strict and rigorous guidance to RIKEN to ensure that the future recurrence of such incidents can be prevented and that necessary reforms can be implemented.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the capital injection to Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Inc., (HEPCO) from the Development Bank of Japan. Can I ask what the aims of the Government are in providing this capital? Also, is there a possibility that similar capital injections will be provided to other electric power companies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is the case that HEPCO is considering various means of strengthening its financial base. I do know that HEPCO filed an application with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry today so that it can access its drought reserve funds. However, other than that, I have not currently received a report of anything concrete being decided. Given this situation I would like to refrain from making any further comment. Whatever the case, I think that HEPCO’s foremost priority should be to make every effort to ensure that it can avoid any further rise in electricity tariffs.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the situation in Ukraine. Russia has started to withdraw the military forces it had deployed on Ukraine’s eastern border. What is the outlook for the situation in Ukraine?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, there is actually a variety of information concerning the movements of Russian forces. The Government will work to gather intelligence and closely monitor the circumstances on the ground local situation. In addition, there have also been moves by countries concerned towards the peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the issue, including a meeting between the foreign ministers of the United States and Russia that took place yesterday. In light of this, Japan will continue to cooperate with the G7 countries, while also continuing to maintain communication with Russia, and make efforts to ensure a diplomatic solution to this issue.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-North Korea Working-level Consultations that took place in 2008 under the Fukuda administration. Our news agency learned that Ambassador Song Il Ho of North Korea, in charge of Japan-North Korea normalization talks, has stated that in the consultations in 2008 both Japan and North Korea agreed that even if a reinvestigation of the abduction issue were to be implemented, the result would be the same. He has also stated that, despite this, Japan indicated in those consultations that if North Korea were to pledge to launch a reinvestigation, Japan would lift sanctions on North Korea. Does the Government of Japan accept these comments as fact? Also, what is the recognition of the Government with regard to the nature of the consultations that took place in 2008?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I would like to refrain from making specific comments about the individual points that you have raised. However, in 2008 North Korea agreed to implement a comprehensive investigation into the abduction victims in order to find the survivors and ensure their return to Japan. There is no truth to the points that you mentioned about the statements or agreements made by the Government of Japan. The abduction issue is an important issue that is directly related to the safety and security of the public. The Government will continue to make every effort to resolve the abduction issue based on the assumption that all abductees are alive. There is still absolutely no change to this policy.


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