Wednesday, May 30, 2012 (PM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
- Restarting operations at nuclear power stations (Oi Nuclear Power Station)
- Request of submission of materials by the Diet's (Fukushima Nuclear Accident) Independent Investigation Commission to the Government's Investigation and Verification Committee
- Investigation on protection of confidentiality at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in relation to the secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo
- Recent situation in Syria (an expulsion order by the Japanese Foreign Minister to the Ambassador of Syria to Japan)
REPORTER: Regarding the restarting of operations at Oi Nuclear Power Station, today, the Minister went to give an explanation to the Union of Kansai Governments. Does the Government have any plans to go there again to provide further explanation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Today, Minister Goshi Hosono and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tsuyoshi Saito went to a meeting of the Union of Kansai Governments, held in Tottori Prefecture. They explained about the experts' scientific review of the criteria for judgment on the restart and whether the judgment on the restart is a routine or provisional judgment, among other matters. The Government believes that sufficient explanation was able to be provided. My understanding is that the Union of Kansai Governments will be announcing its view on the restart in the not so distant future. In this sense, responding to your question about the future, we believe that sufficient explanation was able to be provided this time around.
REPORTER: On a related note, when you say that sufficient explanation was able to be provided, is your understanding then that the Government has been able to gradually obtain the understanding of the Union of Kansai Governments?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: That is our view.
REPORTER: Does that mean preparations will be made to set a date for the ministerial meeting of the four ministers (on the issue of nuclear power stations) in the near future?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I think Minister Hosono is still on his way back. The date will be finalized going forward.
REPORTER: I believe the Diet's (Fukushima Nuclear Accident) Independent Investigation Commission has decided to ask the Government to provide materials, including the records from the hearings that the Government's Investigation and Verification Committee on the Accident conducted with stakeholders. How will the Government be responding to this?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I understand that the Diet's Independent Investigation Commission has decided to request the submission of such materials. And I understand that this request is being made not to the Government but to the Government's Investigation and Verification Committee on the Accident. As you are aware, this Investigation Committee on the Accident, which was established within the Government, is quite independent from the Government. In this sense, while the Secretariat that handles the general affairs of the Government's Investigation and Verification Committee is indeed set up at the Cabinet Secretariat, in practice, the Committee independently conducts investigations as a third-party committee. For sure, it is the Government's Investigation and Verification Committee that will be making an appropriate judgment on how to respond to this request for materials. On the part of the Cabinet and the Government, for the time being, we would like to watch over the responses that will be taken. I believe this is what will happen.
REPORTER: I would like to briefly ask about the investigation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), which was discussed a little bit this morning. I believe before this issue came upon, this issue of the (Chinese) diplomat or secretary, the Government was extensively questioned at the Diet also by opposition parties as of February. It has taken quite a long time for the investigation to commence. In the meantime, did the Government not perceive that there were problems with respect to this issue?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As to whether there is any relationship between the issue which was raised in early February and the latest issue, perhaps through the investigation it would be revealed that there is some relationship. However, as of February, I believe the Government responded to the questions asked at the Diet, to the effect that the Government would not conduct any investigation, and that if necessary, the minister, senior vice minister, and others in charge will provide a thorough explanation. This remains unchanged even now. As for today, in light also of the news reports which raise suspicions about confidentiality, MAFF has decided to establish a team and conduct an investigation on this issue going forward.
REPORTER: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested the Syrian Ambassador (to Japan) to leave the country. Can you discuss the details of the facts?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This has already been reported by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. This could be somewhat repetitive. With regard to the massacre of a large number of civilians, including children, in Houla in the Homs Governorate in northwestern Syria on May 25 and 26, I would like to reiterate that Japan resolutely condemns such brutal acts of violence. It is clear that the responsibility for the events that led to this tragedy lies mainly with the Syrian Government, which has not yet implemented the proposal of Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan. Japan has been strongly demanding the Syrian Government to immediately stop violence, including the implementation of economic sanctions on a number of occasions. In addition, based on our recognition of the case in Houla, today, in order to make clear Japan's protest against the Syrian Government, the Ministry summoned the representative of the Syrian Government, Ambassador Mohamed Ghassan Al Habash, and demanded that the Ambassador leave the country as soon as possible. These are the facts.
REPORTER: My question concerns the special monitoring system of Oi Nuclear Power Station. Can you once again discuss specifically what kind of system is envisioned at the present stage, who will be stationed, and what the significance is?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As this matter was also discussed by Minister Goshi Hosono today at the meeting of the Union of Kansai Governments, I may repeat what he said. I believe the Minister stated the following. The Government will responsibly make every effort to secure safety until the new regulatory system is established, and that readiness will be ensured for any eventuality. A special monitoring system will be established at the power station. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Senior Vice Minister, and at times maybe the Parliamentary Secretary, will constantly monitor as the person in charge. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) will be permanently stationed at the Central Control Room around the clock. The number of inspectors will be significantly increased. The around the clock monitoring system will be in place until output is 100%. The Nuclear Power Division, Offsite Center, Onsite, and NISA will be constantly connected by video conferencing. The system will be fundamentally strengthened to also allow for coordination with the Prime Minister's Office. This will be the system until the Regulatory Agency is launched. After the Regulatory Agency is launched, the system will shift to one where constant monitoring is conducted as an onsite organization. Furthermore, information will be consistently provided also to Kyoto and Shiga. The disaster management plan will be reviewed by the new organization.
REPORTER: The Governors of Kyoto and Shiga have said that they would like to be more actively involved in the monitoring system. What are your thoughts on that?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The system will be developed under the leadership of NISA. In any case, if opinions are raised at today's meeting of the Union of Kansai Governments, I am aware that further review will take place based on those opinions.