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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The restarting of nuclear power stations

REPORTER: I have a question about the restarting of nuclear power stations. You have stated that power stations that have passed the screening of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) will be restarted without the need for a political decision on the matter. However, with public opinion divided on this issue there are those who are criticizing moves to place responsibility on the NRA to make a judgment. What are your thoughts with regard to this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, with regard to the restarting of nuclear power stations, decisions on the safety of power stations are being left to the expert judgment of the NRA. For the restarting of individual power stations, in the case that the NRA accepts that the power station in question is in compliance with the new safety standards, then based on the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors the operator of the power station will make a decision whether or not to restart it. The NRA is an organization independent of the Government which has compiled safety standards and makes decisions on the safety of power stations. This reflects the NRA’s extremely grave responsibility. When a power station is to be restarted the operator should of course provide careful explanations to the local government concerned. The central Government for its part will provide proper explanations concerning safety standards and energy policy. The overall process to date has been implemented based consistently on objective safety standards, rather than the Government making arbitrary decisions about whether to restart or not, which is why it is possible to come to a decision on restarting power stations. The Government will bear responsibility for safety.

REPORTER: On a related note, in a doorstep interview, the Prime Minister stated in regard to the restarting of power stations that the draft report which was recently submitted represented a step forward towards the restarting of operations. From an economic perspective the import of fuel used in thermal power stations is a factor affecting the trade deficit, but what do you think is the progress towards the restarting of nuclear power stations from an economic perspective?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From an economic perspective, with the nuclear power stations out of operation, almost 4 trillion yen of the nation’s wealth is flowing overseas annually for the purposes of procuring fuel for power stations. However, what is important is for Japan’s corporations to be able to engage in business with a sense of security, and it is a fact that this requires a stable energy supply procured at low cost. Against this backdrop, the inspection of nuclear power stations is continuing, with the highest priority focused on safety, while the Government is also conducting intensive studies into the potential for renewable energies as a major policy measure. Energy conservation is similarly a policy measure that is being addressed. In so doing, the Government is looking to ultimately reduce the nation’s dependence on nuclear power. However under the current situation there is absolutely no change to the Government’s policy to seek to restart power stations that have passed inspections, while first and foremost placing highest priority on safety.


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