Monday, May 28, 2012 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
- Recent situation in Syria (the Massacre in Houla)
- Testimony of Minister Edano (former Chief Cabinet Secretary) at the Diet's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission
REPORTER: I would like to ask about the situation in Syria. The head of the United Nations (UN) ceasefire observer mission confirmed and announced that 90 people have been killed, including 32 children. The United States Government and others have issued statements condemning the killings. Can you share the thoughts of the Japanese Government?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It is reported that on Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, Syria time, a large number of civilians, including 34 children, were massacred in Houla in the Homs Governorate in northwestern Syria, according to the report of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). Japan resolutely condemns such brutal acts of violence and also offers its deepest condolences to the victims and their families. It is clear that at least part of the responsibility for the events that led to this tragedy lies with the Syrian Government, which has not yet complied with the proposal by Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, to immediately stop the deployment of troops in and around residential areas, halt the use of heavy weapons, and start the withdrawal of military forces. Japan once again strongly demands that the Syrian Government fully implement the proposal by Joint Special Envoy Annan and uphold its responsibility to protect civilians. In addition, all violence must be stopped completely and immediately, and Japan wishes the compliance of UN Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043, respectively.
REPORTER: My question concerns Minister Yukio Edano's testimony at the Diet's (Fukushima Nuclear Accident) Independent Investigation Commission hearing yesterday. While acknowledging that information gathering and disclosure were insufficient, I believe the Minister stated that it is demanding to be doing both the overall coordination of the Cabinet and dissemination of information as Chief Cabinet Secretary, and proposed that these roles are separated. What is your view on this as the current Chief Cabinet Secretary? Also, will this matter be taken up for consideration going forward?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I understand Mr. Edano stated that he had this idea even before 3.11, that is, from ordinary times. And he is speaking based also on his experience. In particular, on his experience during the emergency situation immediately after the accident occurred - although I myself do not have this experience, I can fully imagine how truly complex the situation must have been. The way in which information is disseminated in such times indeed needs to be part of the crisis management or perhaps the manual of crisis management. This is something that must be reviewed all the time or consistently, and it is a fact that a variety of considerations are being made based on a variety of assumptions, even after the present format has been established. During ordinary times, or rather - these press conferences by the Chief Cabinet Secretary have been held at the Prime Minister's Office, in principle, twice a day, as a long-time practice. And so, I believe this is not something which is going to change instantaneously. I do believe a variety of considerations need to be made, also taking into account the views of Mr. Edano.
REPORTER: With regard to the division of roles that you spoke about a moment ago, it seems that it is the information dissemination role - how the Chief Cabinet Secretary disseminates information - that should be reviewed more than the other. What is your opinion?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I think it is both. I do believe it is necessary for a politician or parliamentary official as a Cabinet member to disseminate information carefully on a daily basis. However, in rather special circumstances or situations, one idea may be to bring in respective experts. There is also the Cabinet Public Affairs Secretary, a post which has much responsibility, and I believe a range of considerations can be made as to how to leverage it. Nevertheless, I believe there will be no immediate change in course.