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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 13, 2017 (PM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question about the Great East Japan Earthquake. In his address at the memorial ceremony organized by the Government marking the anniversary of the earthquake the Prime Minister did not refer to the accident at the nuclear power plant. In response, Governor Uchibori of Fukushima Prefecture stated in a press conference that the sense of the people of Fukushima is that it was strange to omit such language. Reference to the nuclear power plant accident has been included in the Prime Minister's address at each ceremony until this year, so can you tell us why it was decided not to refer to the accident this year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Great East Japan Earthquake was a multiple disaster, comprising the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant accident. The memorial ceremony held on March 11 naturally included people who have been affected by the nuclear power plant accident and the Prime Minister himself referred to reconstruction in Fukushima in his address. Furthermore, in the Joint Meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council and the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters  held on March 10, the day before the memorial ceremony, the Prime Minister stated that reconstruction and revitalization from the nuclear disaster is indispensable for the reconstruction of Tohoku , and reiterated his instructions to all Cabinet ministers to exert every effort towards reconstruction and revitalization. Also, on his visit to Iwate Prefecture on March 12, the Prime Minister stated that Fukushima experienced not only an earthquake disaster but also a nuclear disaster and for that reason, there can be no reconstruction of Tohoku without the reconstruction of Fukushima. He also expressed the strong determination that the Government will exert every effort at the forefront based on the idea that there can be no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Tohoku.  In a certain sense, therefore, it is only natural for the Government to continue to exert every possible effort towards the reconstruction of the areas affected by the nuclear disaster.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. Governor Uchibori stated in the press conference that the damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident is not something to be referred to in the past tense, but rather as something that is still having to be faced today. What is the Government's view with regard to concerns that memories of the accident are becoming obscured?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In his address at the memorial ceremony the Prime Minister stated that he feels that reconstruction has reached a new stage, including the gradual implementation of the lifting of evacuation zones, but that nevertheless, even today, 120,000 people are still in evacuation, leading uncomfortable lives . I do not think, therefore, that memories of the accident are becoming obscured or forgotten.

REPORTER: I have a question about the withdrawal from activities in peacekeeping operations (PKO) in South Sudan. Once the Self-Defense Force (SDF) unit is withdrawn from South Sudan at the end of May it will mean that there are no SDF units being deployed on PKO missions anywhere. What is the Government's current thinking on the destination for a new deployment following the withdrawal from South Sudan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the deployment of the SDF engineering unit to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) marked a milestone of five years in January 2017 and it has become the longest deployment of engineering units ever. As I have stated before, it is for this reason that from around September last year deliberations have taken place, mainly in the forum of the National Security Council (NSC), about the future plans for the deployment. Over the course of more than five years Japan has engaged in its largest and longest-ever deployment of units to a PKO mission, which have engaged in the construction of arterial roads linking various regions with the capital, Juba, among other activities. Japan considers that the engineering activities undertaken by the SDF in Juba have now come to a close. We explained this Japanese Government policy in advance to South Sudan and the United Nations, and gained their understanding. President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan also stated that the country highly values and appreciates the SDF for their activities to date. We will continue to deploy SDF personnel to serve in the headquarters of UNMISS and are resolved to continue to contribute to UN PKO. After the SDF unit has concluded its activities Japan will also continue to provide nation-building assistance to South Sudan. Under the banner of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" and based on the results of activities implemented to date, we seek to utilize Japan's strengths to enhance capacity-building assistance and make a further contribution in international peace cooperation, including the deployment of units and individuals.

REPORTER: In today's Budget Committee meeting in the House of Councillors there were a number of questions asked about the reason for withdrawing the SDF unit from South Sudan and its correlation with the deterioration in the security environment in the country. Prime Minister Abe stated that the Government initiated considerations from about September last year, so could you tell us what the most important point was for the Government when deciding to withdraw the unit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally the top priority for the Government is always ensuring that the Five Principles for Participation in PKO  are satisfied. At the same time the Government received an explanation from Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Masahiko Shibayama, who recently visited Juba, and who stated that there were no issues relating to security. However, in light of the fact that, as of January, the unit has now been on deployment for more than five years and that the construction of roads had been completed, the Government determined that the activities of the unit have come to a close.

REPORTER: It has been reported that avian influenza has been detected in chicken meat that was confiscated from a visitor from China, who was attempting to bring the meat into Japan. Although border control measures are in place through the implementation of quarantine checks at airports and other facilities, it has been pointed out that the quantities that are confiscated represent only a tiny fraction of the whole. Some people have also observed that the possibility of avian influenza being brought into Japan in people's personal belongings has not been considered. Could you tell us your views, including the response that will be taken by the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Japan does not permit any kind of meat to be brought into Japan from overseas unless it has a legally verifiable certificate of inspection. Furthermore, as cases of avian influenza are being reported in countries such China, Vietnam and the Republic of Korea, imports of poultry and eggs from such countries and regions have been halted. The Government considers that there is an extremely low risk of pathogens being passed on to domestic poultry through personal belongings. However, as the number of foreign visitors to Japan continues to increase year by year it is also a fact that the risk of pathogens being brought in has increased. It is for this reason that Animal Quarantine Service  is making every effort to prevent the inadvertent entry of pathogens to Japan through a variety of initiatives. These include increasing the number of personnel, continuing to appropriately implement import bans from countries where infectious diseases have been reported, and working with foreign airlines and governments to make visitors to Japan fully aware of the restrictions that are in place for bringing in agricultural and livestock products.

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