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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 22, 2017 (PM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Q&As

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask a question relating to North Korean missiles, which also came up in this morning's press conference. According to sources including the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the U.S. Forces, this morning North Korea launched a missile from the vicinity of Wonsan, but the launch failed. Could you tell us the facts that are known by the Government of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated this morning, the Government strives to gather and analyze information on nuclear and missile-related activities in North Korea with great interest. I would like to refrain from making any comment about specific details due to the nature of the matter.

REPORTER: I have a related question. There is a high degree of public interest in nuclear and missile-related issues in North Korea as they are directly related to the security of Japan. Could you tell us therefore the reason why you cannot comment on such matters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than making any comment per se, I would like to state that no missile has been confirmed flying in the direction of Japan. The Government is not of the view that a situation has occurred that would directly impact national security. Specifically, we continue to strive to gather and analyze information with the greatest interest. However, the Government has decided to refrain from disclosing specific details,  depending on the matter in light of the whole picture. Whatever the case, as the Government's greatest duty is to protect the lives and properties of the people of Japan, we are working with a sense of urgency under an advanced surveillance structure to respond to any situation and are resolved to protect the people of Japan from any provocations instigated by North Korea.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to change the topic. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO) has announced the outline of a new management restructuring plan. The plan includes details such as delaying by a further two years a decision on whether to end state ownership of the company and also targets for realignment and integration with other power companies in sectors such as nuclear power generation and power transmission and distribution. As TEPCO is currently effectively a state-run company could you tell us the Government's view  and expectations on this latest plan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware that TEPCO has announced the outline of a management plan for the next fiscal year and beyond. In any event, what is of the utmost importance is for TEPCO to steadily implement reforms in accordance with the proposal  for TEPCO reform that was compiled by a committee  of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) at the end of last year. My understanding is that based on the management restructuring plan outline that TEPCO has compiled, further discussions will be advanced in the TEPCO Committee at METI with a view to creating a definitive business plan.

REPORTER: I have a related question. TEPCO will be seeking to engage in restructuring under this new management restructuring plan. However, given that the company is faced with the urgent task of securing funds to cover the massive costs related to dealing with the nuclear accident, do you think that the current management structure has made sufficient efforts to date to improve management efficiency and fulfil its responsibilities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted the Government's view is that it is of the utmost importance for TEPCO to steadily implement the reforms according to the TEPCO reform proposal that was compiled by the TEPCO Committee of METI. In addition, the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation  (NDF) is implementing its own review and evaluation of TEPCO management, which is due to be completed by the end of the fiscal year. I believe that evaluation of the management of the company will be implemented also based on the evaluation implemented by the NDF.

REPORTER: My question is in regard to a different matter. The Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor has met today and opinions were heard that the title of His Majesty following his abdication should be "Joko" (retired Emperor). What is the Government's current thinking with regard to His Majesty's title after abdication?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Advisory Council met today for the first time in two months and heard opinions from four persons with expertise that will contribute to considerations on the position, title, and other aspects of His Majesty after abdication. Looking at the overview of today's meeting it appears that opinions are divided and that different opinions were voiced. We understand that discussions will continue based on today's hearing with the specialists and the Government will continue to watch over the proceedings. The Government recently received a compilation of discussions by the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors about the legislature's response to the abdication  of His Majesty the Emperor, and we will take seriously the opinions it contains as we make every effort to ensure that a draft bill can be submitted to the current session of the Diet.

(Abridged)

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