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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 4, 2020 (AM)

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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 regarding Typhoon No. 10 (Typhoon Haishen). It is forecast that the typhoon will continue to strengthen into an intensified one at the level of an emergency warning, and pass through or make landfall in Okinawa, Amami and Kyushu. Record-breaking heavy rains are also expected. Could you tell us about the Government’s outlook and future response, including the agenda to be discussed at the ministerial meeting to be held this afternoon?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Typhoon No. 10 is forecast to strengthen into one at an emergency warning level, and from the evening of September 5 through to September 7, there is a risk that it will pass through or make landfall in the Okinawa and Kyushu regions. In light of this, in those regions close to the typhoon’s course, there is a risk of record-breaking heavy rains, strong winds, high waves and storm surges. The Government has established an information liaison office at the Crisis Management Center at the Prime Minister’s Office and a ministerial meeting will be held from 3:00 p.m. today. Through these kinds of efforts, the Government is making an effort to gather information and putting a rapid-response structure in place. Furthermore, water is being discharged in advance from dams in Kyushu and other regions. We ask the public to make advance preparations by checking stockpiled supplies and evacuation routes, to avoid going out unless it is absolutely necessary and urgent, and to stay alert and take necessary steps that save lives, based on the evacuation information issued by the local governments, such as being mindful of evacuating early.
REPORTER: […] As you have just mentioned, the Government is preparing flood control with advance water discharge at dams under its initiative. Please share with us the current status of water discharge at dams in response to Typhoon No.10 as well as your views on the current state of accumulated sediment in aging dams and the necessity of dredging works.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In response to the approach of Typhoon No. 10, advance water discharge is being implemented at the eight dams in Nagasaki and Wakayama prefectures. Ahead of the recent Typhoon No. 9 (Typhoon Maysak), advance water discharges were also implemented at 11 dams nationwide. Furthermore, since June, the Government has implemented advance water discharge at 51 dams nationwide until today, which includes the response to the series of heavy rains centered on Kyushu, and lowers the water levels downstream in the event of heavy rains. Furthermore, in order to ensure that the dams function effectively, we are monitoring the state of sediment accumulated in them constantly and regularly. When necessary, dredging is also carried out.


REPORTER: I have a question about the earthquake that struck Fukui Prefecture at 9:10 a.m. today, registering a lower five on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. Could you tell us what information the Government has received about the status of damage?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At around 9:10 a.m. today, there was an earthquake registering a maximum of a lower five on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, with an epicenter in the Reihoku district of Fukui Prefecture. There is no danger of a tsunami occurring from this earthquake. As of now, the Government has not received any reports about damage from this earthquake. Neither has the Government received any reports of damage at nuclear power facilities, including the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Station. Immediately after the earthquake, the Government established an information liaison office at the Crisis Management Center at the Prime Minister’s Office, and is taking all possible measures, including making efforts to grasp the situation. I ask all residents where tremors occurred to continue to stay alert for information from local governments as well as from television and radio reports.
REPORTER: […] I have a question about the Olympics. It is said that the Government intends not to require athletes at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to self-quarantine for two weeks. Does the Government consider it possible to sufficiently prevent infections without a two-week self-quarantine? Instead of self-quarantine, what kinds of measures are to be implemented in order to prevent infections at the athletes’ villages and other locations?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not a fact that, as you said, the Government has decided not to require athletes to self-quarantine for two weeks. Regarding the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) countermeasures for the Tokyo Games, given the necessity to comprehensively review and coordinate such measures to respond to a wide range of challenges, including immigration, screening and medical structures, and the operation of facilities, I understand that today the national government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will hold a meeting and continue to discuss this matter moving forward. Through the discussions at such meetings, the Government intends to advance its preparations, closely collaborating with the host city, Tokyo, and the main organizer of the Games, the Organising Committee, in order to realize a safe and secure environment for athletes and spectators alike.
REPORTER: I have a question about COVID-19. At the September 2 meeting of an expert body of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the effective reproduction number in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka was said to be continuing on a downward trend and to be below 1, which is regarded as indicating that the spread of infection is being contained. How long does such a situation need to continue until the Government can regard the outbreak as having been contained?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As you have mentioned now, according to the advisory board, the number of new cases has started decreasing gradually nationwide and the effective reproduction number in major cities is below 1. That is what has been reported to us. Meanwhile, as I have stated frequently in these press conferences, unfortunately it will take time to bring the risk of infection down to zero. Against this backdrop, the Government intends to continue to increase the level of socio-economic activities in a phased approach, while controlling the risk of infections.
REPORTER: I have a related question. What specific measures does the Government consider to be necessary to ensure that this trend continues?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we have learned many lessons in the fight against this virus since January. Among these, 80 percent of infected persons do not infect others; the places where clusters of infections have emerged are those where the three Cs (closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings) occurred, or where people were speaking in loud voices, for example. Accordingly, without totally shutting down all socio-economic activities, we are thoroughly implementing basic preventive measures aimed at avoiding the three Cs. Furthermore, by employing focused infection countermeasures for places where people gather, such as clubs, restaurants and bars, and for medical institutions and nursing facilities, we will work to firmly control the risk of infections. Also, in accordance with the decision of the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters meeting at the end of August, anticipating the coming seasonal influenza period, the Government will take firm steps to ensure that we enhance screening structures, secure medical treatment structures, and develop vaccines.
REPORTER: I have a question related to the Senkaku Islands. September 7 will mark the tenth anniversary since the collision between the Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels and a Chinese fishing trawler. How does the Government see the impact of this incident over the tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands? And, given the circumstances that Chinese Government-owned vessels sail the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands, how does the Government intend to protect the islands? Could you tell us the Government’s resolve and specific measures?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, there is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. The islands are currently under the valid control of Japan. Therefore, there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved concerning the Senkaku Islands. The situation remains unpredictable and is a serious concern for Japan, with Chinese vessels continuously intruding into Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands since September 2012, for example. The Government will continue to make a calm and resolute response, maintaining close cooperation among the relevant ministries and conducting monitoring and surveillance activities in and around Japan’s territorial land, waters and airspace.
REPORTER: […] I have a question regarding the addition of travel to and from Tokyo to be eligible under the “Go to Travel Campaign.” There is a four-day holiday weekend coming up from September 19 to 22. People are hoping to make travel plans based on whether travel to and from Tokyo during this four-day weekend will be eligible under this campaign. Does the Government intend to make an announcement ahead of the holiday weekend about whether travel to or from Tokyo will be included in the campaign or not and, if so, by when?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as I have said before, the Government intends to make a decision on this matter related to Tokyo based on the epidemiological situation and the views of experts. No specific timing has as yet been determined.


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