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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 24, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question about Japan-Russia relations. In this morning’s press conference you stated that the Government is maintaining close communication with the United States and responding to the situation in Ukraine. Given the tensions between the United States and Russia, how does the Government intend to seek the understanding of the United States with regard to a Japan-Russia summit meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I would like to refrain from discussing the details of dialogue between Japan and the United States, with regard to policy on Russia, there is no change whatsoever to the Government’s stance of cooperating and maintaining close contact with the United States and working together with the G7 to respond appropriately to the situation in Ukraine.

REPORTER: On a related note, with regard to Russia, in his policy speech the Prime Minister stated that the Government will seek all possible opportunities to continue dialogue in order to together tackle issues that the world confronts. What are your views on the relationship of trust between the Prime Minister and President Putin and the significance of seeking opportunities for dialogue with President Putin?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the reality of the situation is that the issue of biggest concern between Japan and Russia is that of the Northern Territories. In order to resolve this situation the Government considers that interactions at the summit level are essential. Furthermore, the constructive involvement of Russia in various issues confronting the international community is extremely important, including the situation in North Korea, the response to terrorism, and the situations in Syria and Ukraine. From these perspectives I believe that it is very important for the leaders of both countries to seek out opportunities for dialogue. Therefore, as Prime Minister Abe himself has stated, arrangements are being made for the Prime Minister to make an informal visit to Russia at an appropriate time, prior to a visit to Japan by President Putin.

REPORTER: I have another related question. There are press reports that suggest that President Poroshenko of Ukraine is seeking to visit Japan prior to the Ise-Shima Summit. How will the Government respond to this desire on the part of the President to visit Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the time of the Japan-Ukraine summit meeting in September last year, President Poroshenko expressed his wish to Prime Minister Abe to visit Japan at an appropriate time in the future. The two leaders agreed to engage in coordination through diplomatic channels with regard to the specific timing of a visit. Currently no decision has been made with regard to timing.


REPORTER: Changing the subject, I have a question concerning nuclear power stations. Today the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved the draft operational safety programs compiled by Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc., for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of Takahama Nuclear Power Station, deeming that they fulfill safety measures prescribed in the new regulatory standards. Although there are still other checks and screening to be conducted before final approval of the restarting of these two reactors, this is the first time for old reactors that have been in operation for more than 40 years to have been approved under the new standards. Some people have pointed out that even if the safety measures for these reactors have been approved in accordance with laws and regulations, the approval still runs counter to the principle of not restarting reactors that have been in operation for more than 40 years. What is the Government’s response to such opinions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Today the NRA deliberated the conformity of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of Takahama Nuclear Power Station with the new regulatory standards and decided to go forward with procedures to seek technical opinions over the next month or so. In parallel to these procedures, other checks are also being implemented separately on extending the operations at the power station. I would therefore like to refrain from speculating and making any further comment at the current point on behalf of the Government about the outlook for these checks and the future response. However, in any event, the Abe administration considers nuclear safety to be a top priority. The NRA will continue to engage in stringent safety checks from both scientific and technological aspects.


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