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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Government proposal of personnel appointment to the Commissioners of NRA
  • The oil drilling work in the South China Sea
  • The Japan-North Korea Government-level consultations
  • The ruling parties consultations regarding the right of collective self-defense
  • The corporation tax decrease

REPORTER: Today, the Government submitted a proposal of personnel appointments subject to Diet approval to the Committee on Rules and Administration of both Houses for the appointment of Prof. Satoru Tanaka of the University of Tokyo, and Prof. Akira Ishiwatari of Tohoku University, as Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). My first question is, what was the aim in appointing these two individuals?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, today, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary proposed Dr. Satoru Tanaka and Dr. Akira Ishiwatari to the Diet as candidates for NRA Commissioners. Dr. Satoru Tanaka, in his previous roles such as the President of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ), has been engaged as a leading authority in nuclear power research. Dr. Tanaka has been contributing to the decontamination work in Fukushima, and was instrumental in compiling the recommendations of the AESJ which took into account the remorse from the accident. Dr. Akira Ishiwatari was, until very recently, the President of the Geological Society of Japan; and is a leading authority in geological research. Dr. Ishiwatari has served as chair of the peer review meeting concerning crush zone studies by the NRA. I understand that a key factor in their appointments was that they could contribute to ensuring nuclear safety from a scientific perspective. We perceive the appointments as the best choice for the execution of duties from a scientifically neutral and fair position while maintaining independence.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Diet members who support restarting nuclear power station operations advocated the replacement of NRA Commissioner Shimazaki, who is wary about restarting operations, and Dr. Shimazaki was replaced. Meanwhile, Dr. Tanaka was the President of AESJ, and so some observers claim that the personnel appointment was a strategic move for restarting nuclear power station operations. Do you have any comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not find that to be the case at all. Commissioners Shimazaki and Oshima had strong wishes to resign at the end of the present term. Taking their wishes into account, two individuals were proposed who could execute the duties from a scientifically neutral and fair position.

REPORTER: China announced that its oil drilling work in the South China Sea has entered its second stage. However, oil drilling by China is what initiated the collision between China and Viet Nam to begin with. What do you think about how China is dealing with this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan considers it extremely deplorable that China announced its intention to proceed with further drilling activities, notwithstanding the fact that various countries requested China to refrain from unilateral actions. Japan deems that peace and stability in the South China Sea is a shared interest of the international community, and that the issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue. From this perspective, Japan views that relevant countries must refrain from unilateral actions which heighten tensions, and address the issue calmly while respecting relevant international law. Japan will continue to work closely with relevant countries.


REPORTER: My question is about the Japan-North Korea Government-level consultations. I gather that North Korea will ask Japan to resolve the issue of the auction sale of the head office building of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). Is it possible that a Japanese government agency will purchase the head office building from Marunaka, for instance? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In fact, during the Japan-North Korea Government-level consultations at the end of March as well, North Korea expressed strong interest and concern regarding the issue of the auction sale of the Chongryon head office building. Japan already explained to North Korea that these are court proceedings. In any case, as these are court proceedings, the Government is not in a position to give comments.

REPORTER: A related question. At this point in time do you think it is feasible that a government agency will purchase the head office building?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, these are court proceedings, and the Government would like to refrain from commenting on the proceedings.

REPORTER: I have a question about a topic which also came up during this morning’s press conference. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito held ruling parties’ consultations regarding the right of collective self-defense. Today the Government presented 15 case examples, and full-fledged consultations began. What sort of consultations does the Government hope will take place?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today, the Government presented 15 concrete case examples for the first time. We hope that the ruling parties examine the issue based on these case examples and make efforts to further deepen the understanding of the people. The Government will examine how to proceed based on the outcome of the consultations among ruling parties. If it is determined that a revision of the interpretation of the Constitution is necessary, we intend to have this approved by a Cabinet Decision. This remains unchanged.

REPORTER: A question relating to this topic. Is your goal to have this Cabinet Decision approved by, absolutely, the end of the current Diet session?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be done in the context of obtaining the understanding of the ruling parties during their consultations. 

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the debate on permitting the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. In his interview with the Wall Street Journal published on the 27th, Prime Minister Abe responded, “I wanted to share my sense of the problem and ask whether the current state of legal arrangements is appropriate and whether the current interpretation of the constitution is appropriate.” Aside from Diet debates and press conferences, are there other concrete measures that the Government is exploring for sharing the sense of the problem with the people?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I responded moments ago, a critically important task of the Government is to protect the lives and property of the people and the security of the nation. Against this backdrop, we presented concrete case examples in connection with the question of whether the lives and property of the people and the security of the nation can be protected with the legal arrangements remaining as it stands. In particular, Japan has undergone significant internationalization. 1.5 million Japanese nationals live overseas, and as many as 18 million Japanese nationals travel overseas annually. Are the current arrangements appropriate in such an era? All throughout the world, it is becoming impossible for any one nation to secure its own security by itself. That is how much times have changed. In examining these issues, we hope to solidify a consensus on the view as ruling parties while raising these questions with the people, with regard to the 15 case examples. 

REPORTER: I would like to go back to the topic of the consultations among the ruling parties. I understand that today, when the Government provided explanations of the case examples, there was a difference of opinion among the Government’s briefers, and that the New Komeito expressed strong opposition and harsh views. What is the Government’s opinion of this?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The objective of today’s consultations was to present case examples and ask how legislation should be developed. Once our orientation for legal arrangements becomes clear, we will fully take time to work on them. It is important that we examine whether the current arrangements are appropriate in connection with the case examples. As Japan is a law-abiding country, we obviously hold the view that legislation should be carefully developed to carry out appropriate responses. 


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the Research Commission on the Tax System of the LDP. The Research Commission held a meeting today, and it seems that the coordination work is approaching conclusion for including a mention about the corporation tax decrease in June’s so-called “Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform.” How does the Government assess the current status of the coordination work? Depending on the circumstances, will the Government be having a minister attend the Research Commission’s meetings again to provide explanations?    

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to corporation taxation, the Prime Minister has stated from before that this year, we will press forward with further reforms to our corporate tax. In order for Japan to survive international competition and revitalize its economy, we are proactively examining this matter at the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and the Government’s Tax Commission, among other fora. This is what the LDP pledged to the people it would do during the national elections for both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. We will translate such proposals into action. Therefore, we will be working out the details to this end.

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