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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 12, 2015 (PM)

Press Conference by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato
With regard to Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, on Saturday, February 14, the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the disaster-affected areas in the two prefectures, where he will inspect the status of reconstruction among other matters. Specifically, in Ofunato City in Iwate Prefecture the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit a marine produce processing facility and fish market that have been rebuilt since the earthquake and tsunami, where he will observe the forward-thinking measures that have been taken, including those to boost production efficiency and accomplish a high standard of hygiene management. Afterwards the Prime Minister will travel to Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture, where he will visit a hand-knitting business that was launched following the disaster which is providing a platform for the active participation of women. He will also visit a public housing facility for disaster victims in the city, where residents started to move in at the end of last month, and engage in an exchange of opinions with residents.

Today, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) deemed that the Unit 3 and Unit 4 reactors of Takahama Nuclear Power Station conformed to the new regulatory requirements and decided to approve changes to the reactor installations, following a similar decision made concerning Sendai Nuclear Power Station. Based on the Strategic Energy Plan, the Government will advance preparations towards restarting operations at the Unit 3 and Unit 4 reactors of Takahama Nuclear Power Station. The Government will work to obtain the understanding and cooperation of host municipalities regarding the Government’s policy. We will be providing careful explanations of the results of the review of the power station’s conformity with the new regulatory requirements, the energy policy, the nuclear power policy, and measures to prevent nuclear disasters, among other items. We will also continue to make further efforts to gain the understanding of the public concerning the importance of nuclear power and the necessity of restarting operations. Furthermore, the Government will provide assistance to further enhance local disaster management plans, including evacuation plans. The Government will also check the content of these plans and continue to work to improve and strengthen them. The process of restarting operations at the power station will start after the necessary procedures required by laws and ordinances are undertaken, including the NRA’s approval of the construction plan. The Government will proceed responsibly with the restarting of operations in accordance with relevant laws and ordinances.


  • The preparation towards restarting operations of Takahama
  • The issue of an order to return a passport

REPORTER: With regard to the conformity of the Unit 3 and Unit 4 reactors of Takahama Nuclear Power Station to regulatory requirements, you have just mentioned that an important focus will be gaining the understanding of local residents. Currently, what measures are the Government considering in order to seek understanding and approval from local residents?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: As you have just noted, when restarting operations, it is extremely important to gain the understanding of local residents. However, the scope and format for efforts to seek understanding varies depending on the situation. As such, the Government will engage in consultations with each local area and respond to the local situation accordingly. In any event, the Government intends to make an appropriate response, engaging in thorough communication with those concerned to seek their understanding.


REPORTER: On a different topic, Mr. Sugimoto, a freelance photographer who was subject to an order from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to return his passport, has given a press conference. In the press conference he stated that his case sets a bad precedent and there is a danger of the freedom of the press being compromised. He has indicated his intention to fight his case in the courts. Can I ask for the Government’s comments on this matter?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: I am aware that Mr. Sugimoto gave a press conference this morning. As has been stated before in the forum of this press conference, in view of the exceptional circumstances surrounding the current situation in the region where the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) is active, the Government engaged in careful consideration in accordance with the related stipulations of the Passport Act. Given that the current situation is one in which two Japanese hostages have been murdered by ISIL and that ISIL has announced its intention to continue to target and kill Japanese nationals, it has been judged that if a Japanese national were to enter Syria, there is a high possibility that persons could be taken hostage by an extremist group such as ISIL. Once a person has departed from Japan, it becomes impossible for the Government to ensure that the person in question will not enter Syria. Therefore, it was judged that the case of Mr. Sugimoto was one in which it was necessary to prevent travel in order to protect the life, person and assets of the passport holder, as provided in the stipulations of the Passport Act. It was also judged that under the stipulations of the Passport Act there was an urgent necessity to order the return of the passport. This order was duly issued. Naturally, freedom of the press and freedom of movement as guaranteed under the Constitution of Japan should be respected to the maximum extent possible. However, the Government also bears the important responsibility of ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals. As a result of such considerations, and in view of the exceptional circumstances relating to areas where ISIL is active, in accordance with the relevant stipulations of the Passport Act, the order for the return of the passport was issued following careful consideration of the situation.


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the statement by the Prime Minister that will be issued on the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II. The Murayama Statement on the fiftieth anniversary, and the Koizumi Statement on the sixtieth anniversary were both approved by the Cabinet. Is it the Government’s intention for the seventieth anniversary statement by Prime Minister to also be approved by the Cabinet?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: As has been noted previously, we are currently at the stage where the Government is advancing considerations with regard to the seventieth anniversary statement, while seeking opinions from experts. Discussions will continue to take place, including about the matter that you mentioned.


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