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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 8, 2020 (PM)

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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 about the final disposal site for so-called nuclear waste. Today, Suttsu Town in Hokkaido decided to apply for a literature survey to be implemented, and Kamoenai Village is also expected to make a similar application. These are the first applications to be submitted since 2017, when the Government published a list of areas that were considered potential candidates for such surveys. As the process towards the selection of final disposal sites has started moving forward, could you share with us the Government’s view on this development?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Nuclear power plants have already been producing spent fuels and thus, the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste is the important issue that must be addressed by our society as a whole, without leaving it to the future generations. That is what we have stated to date. Against this backdrop, regarding the literature surveys, the first step towards the selection of the final disposal site, the Government welcomes the positive arguments that have been taking place, such as the statement made by the Mayor of Kamoenai Village in Hokkaido that respects the Village Assembly resolution that has adopted the request of a literature survey, and the fact that the Mayor of Suttsu Town expressed his intention to apply for a survey. Moving forward, we understand that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will consult closely with the respective municipalities and proceed accordingly.
REPORTER: […] Mr. SUZUKI Naomichi, Governor of Hokkaido, has consistently expressed his strong opposition to the applications. Hokkaido has been divided on this issue, creating a big debate. We understand that you met with Governor Suzuki just now. What kind of exchange did you have with him? In addition, in response to these oppositions, how does the Government intend to advance this process?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: In our conversation, we did not particularly touch upon that issue. In addition, we cannot advance the selection of the final disposal site without the understanding of local communities. We are engaging in this process with the recognition that we cannot obtain the understanding of local communities by just naming the candidate unilaterally. We also consider that it is important for the Government to deepen discussions with local communities, with regard to consensus building there. Furthermore, even if we conduct literature surveys, there will be preliminary investigation afterwards. In case we advance to that stage, it is stipulated by law that the Government will hear the opinions of the Governor of the prefecture and the Mayor of the municipality where the candidates are located and fully respect them. That implies that the Government will not choose the sites for the preliminary investigations against the opinions of those Governors or Mayors.
REPORTER: […] You just explained about how the Government intends to build consensus. In reality, the communities in Suttsu Town are divided, requesting a referendum on whether to apply for the survey. Prime Minister Suga has stated that the Government will stand at the fore and work on this issue but there are some aspects that the Government is actually leaving to the hands of local governments. There are some concerns that this issue becomes a hot topic in each election and there could be an uncertainty leaving it without any progress. Could you share with us your thought on this point?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: Firstly, the selection of the disposal site is, as I just said, the issue that the Government must thoroughly engage in with the sense that this issue must be addressed by our society as a whole. I also stated that the Government cannot obtain the understanding of local communities, just by naming the candidate unilaterally. Against this backdrop, I believe, how to build a consensus in that area is vested to local government’s determination. We intend to hear the voices, such as determinations, at each stage of the literature surveys and preliminary investigations.
REPORTER: […] I have a question related to treated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is engaging in consultations with various organizations concerned, including JF Zengyoren (Japan Fisheries Cooperatives). Could you share with us the outlook for whether the Government will decide its policy swiftly after the consultations conclude.
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: With regard to the handling of Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS)-treated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, today the seventh hearing session was held with the attendance of a State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. JF Zengyoren and other organizations presented their views at this forum. The steady implementation of the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is a prerequisite for reconstruction from the nuclear disaster. We believe that the Government must quickly determine a policy on the handing of ALPS-treated water, which continues to increase daily, while listening seriously to the various opinions being voiced, so as not to delay the decommissioning work any further.

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