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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 24, 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 relating to North Korea. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army. May I ask once again about the Government's analysis of the potential for North Korea to engage in provocative acts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government continuously gathers and analyzes information concerning the movements of North Korea in relation to its nuclear and missile programs as a matter of grave concern. I would like to refrain from commenting on any specific details due to the nature of this matter, but in any event, we are coordinating closely with the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and other related countries to firmly call on North Korea to exercise self-restraint with regard to its provocative acts and comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions. At the same time, we are maintaining an elevated vigilance and surveillance structure in order to fully ensure the safety and security of Japanese citizens and taking all measures such that we are fully prepared to respond to any situation.

REPORTER: I have a related question. If North Korea were to engage in further provocative acts despite pressure from the global community, what kind of response does the Government think would be necessary from thereon?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While coordinating with the U.S. and the ROK, the Government will cooperate with the global community and countries including China and Russia that have influence on North Korea, to strongly call on North Korea to exercise self-restraint with regard to its provocative acts.

REPORTER: I would like to change the subject and ask about the restarting of the Unit 3 reactor and Unit 4 reactor of Saga Prefecture's Genkai Nuclear Power Station. Today, the Governor of Saga Prefecture announced agreement for the restarting of the units. This means that local consent, which is considered by the Government to be a prerequisite for restarting, has now been received. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seko visited the area on April 22 to ask for understanding regarding the restarting of the units, telling the Governor that the Government will be responsible for nuclear power policies. How does the Government view the Governor's announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that Saga Prefecture Governor Yamaguchi earlier expressed understanding regarding the restarting of Units 3 and 4 of Genkai Nuclear Power Station. I believe that the fact that the Governor's understanding has been attained is important for restarting the units. The Nuclear Regulation Authority is continuing to work on the legal procedures relating to the units, and it is my hope that Kyushu Electric Power Company will continue to make ensuring safety its top priority.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Consent has been received from Saga Prefecture and the town of Genkai, but there are a number of municipalities within a 30 kilometer radius of the power station that are opposed to the restart, such as Saga Prefecture's Imari City and Nagasaki Prefecture's Hirado City. Some people are calling for the introduction of legislation requiring the consent of municipalities within 30 kilometers of nuclear power facilities before they are restarted. How do you view the issue of also obtaining the understanding of municipalities in surrounding areas?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding Genkai Nuclear Power Station, consultations have been carried out with the Saga Prefectural Government and efforts have been made by the relevant ministries and agencies to gain local understanding such as holding meetings to explain the matter to local residents in five different regions in Saga Prefecture. I understand that the matter was also explained at meetings held in a total of six regions in Nagasaki and Fukuoka Prefectures. We will steadfastly continue with these efforts in order to gain the understanding of all citizens, particularly those in Saga Prefecture and other relevant areas.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm a point. Does the Government intend to persevere with efforts to gain the understanding of the surrounding municipalities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I just stated, I believe that it is important to carefully explain the matter in order to gain the understanding not only of the municipality within which the nuclear station is located, but also the municipalities in surrounding areas. However, the scope of what is considered the local area, and the methods to be used, are dependent on the circumstances of each location and I believe it is important for the Government to consult closely with each region in dealing with this issue.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject to ask a question about passive smoking countermeasures. It is proving difficult to integrate the various opinions of Liberal Democratic Party members regarding legislation to strengthen such countermeasures, and the Party is still not able to conduct committee meetings on the issue. I believe that the Government is aiming, with an eye to the Tokyo Olympics, to submit a bill during the current Diet session. How do you view the difficulty in coordinating on this issue within the Party?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I am aware that there is a wide range of opinions regarding passive smoking countermeasures within the Liberal Democratic Party. On the other hand, the World Health Organization has asked us to maintain the trend of Olympic hosts implementing passive smoking countermeasures. The Government, centered on the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, will work on the consideration of effective passive smoking countermeasures in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and there is no change in our desire to submit a bill as rapidly as possible and coordinate with the Party on the issue.

REPORTER: With the difficulties that have been experienced in coordinating on the issue, some in the Liberal Democratic Party and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare have voiced hopes that the Prime Minister's Office would play a general coordination role. Does the Prime Minister's Office intend to become fully involved in the coordination process?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although I am aware that some have voiced such opinions, during a recent meeting, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare told me that he would take the lead in working to coordinate with the Party on the issue and finalize a bill. I believe that the Minister will undertake to submit a bill as soon as possible.

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