Thursday, June 21, 2012 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
- The passage of the nuclear regulatory commission establishment legislation and the amendment to the Atomic Energy Basic Act (wordings to the effect that the commission will contribute to Japan's national security)
- Water-level alarm at Oi Nuclear Power Station
- TEPCO's report on its internal investigation of the accident
REPORTER: In the objectives of the nuclear regulatory commission establishment legislation, which was passed yesterday, a sentence was incorporated to the effect that the commission will contribute to "Japan's national security". A similar sentence was also incorporated or added to the Atomic Energy Basic Act, which was revised simultaneously. Concerns are being raised that such text may lead to the diversion of nuclear energy for military use. Regarding the addition of this text, what are the thoughts of the Government as the body which implement legislation? Also, can you discuss how the Government intends to implement the legislation going forward?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe there is a misunderstanding. We will never waver in our firm commitment to the Government's or Japan's principles on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, that is, the three non-nuclear principles, and the Government has no intention at all to divert nuclear energy for military use and so on. Also, I believe the sponsors of the legislation provided responses that sufficiently dealt with this during the deliberations of the Committee (on the Environment of the House of Councillors). However, if necessary, I will state their responses right now. Simply put, Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the revised Atomic Energy Basic Act provides that the use of nuclear energy remains restricted to peaceful purposes. Therefore, there is absolutely no truth to the statement that the latest revision may pave the way for the diversion of nuclear energy for military use. This is our official response. This is the intent of the sponsors.
REPORTER: I have a related question. Yesterday, the sponsors and Nuclear Power Policy Administration Minister Goshi Hosono stated that the sentence on security refers mainly to the point that Japan will not engage in nuclear proliferation. They placed emphasis on preventing the wrongful diversion of nuclear materials and such substances. They stressed that the English translation is closer to the meaning of "safeguard" rather than of "security." Regarding this, does the Government have any intention of once again revising the text of the legislation, or even if the legislation itself is not changed, any intention of drawing a line somewhere in the context of implementing the legislation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The phrase, "to contribute to Japan's national security," was added, bearing in mind that nuclear security and safeguard as well as nuclear non-proliferation initiatives contribute to Japan's security, in view of the fact that the nuclear regulatory commission will be managing nuclear safety regulations as well as nuclear security and nuclear non-proliferation safeguard efforts in an integrated fashion. I believe that was the response provided at the deliberations and that this was also the gist of Minister Hosono's remarks. On a number of times, the sponsors of the legislation, too, have responded to this effect. In any case, it remains unchanged that Japan, as a non-nuclear weapon state under the so-called Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), will continue to restrict the use of nuclear energy to peaceful purposes, also from the standpoint of firmly upholding the three non-nuclear principles.
REPORTER: I have a question regarding Oi Nuclear Power Station for which preparations are under way to restart operations. Despite a trouble unfolding at the nuclear power station, this was not disclosed for half a day. This has generated a sense of mistrust among the public. Can you discuss the Government's thoughts on this and future responses if any?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Let me state the facts. At 9:51pm on June 19, a siren went off at the Unit 3 reactor of Oi Nuclear Power Station, indicating that the water level of the tank, which temporarily stores cooling water that is circulated within the power generator, had stopped. Then, at 9:55pm, the water level was restored, and therefore, the siren went off. The power generator is not running at this moment in time. As the water level of the tank was originally low, the activation of the pump and so on caused the water level to go down temporarily, and this and other factors caused the siren to go off. This is the assumption. Thus, it does not mean that there are any problems with the safety of the Unit 3 reactor of Oi Nuclear Power Station. Also, we believe this has no impact on the schedule of the restart of operations. However, it is regrettable that this kind of information could not be disclosed promptly. Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Seishu Makino, the head of the special monitoring system, is onsite. He has instructed the members of the special monitoring system of Oi Nuclear Power Station that the information sharing mechanisms are once again thoroughly ensured, that the members do not make judgments on their own, and that they fully respond to the press, among other matters. We hope the members will continue to fully recognize the role of the special monitoring system and make efforts, including the prompt provision of information.
REPORTER: Yesterday, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) released a report on its internal investigation of the accident. The contents seem to be critical of the Government from beginning to end. What are your thoughts on this?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The response to the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is currently being investigated by the Diet's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. Furthermore, the Government's Investigation and Verification Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of TEPCO is currently carrying out a variety of verifications. I have consistently responded that based on the findings of such verifications, the Government will take all possible measures with regard to the response at the time of an accident. Yesterday's report was a compilation of the causes of the accident or its recurrence prevention measures which TEPCO put forward as a party to the accident. At this time, when a range of verifications are being carried out, the Government would like to refrain from commenting on TEPCO's investigation.