Friday, June 29, 2012 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura
- An overview of the Cabinet meeting
- The start of this summer's energy-saving period
- The progress of the disaster waste disposal including the wide-area disposal
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would first like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 29 general and other measures and also cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, Minister Jin Matsubara made a statement concerning revisions to the basic items set forth in Article 21, Paragraph 1 of the Food Safety Basic Act. The Minister of Finance made a statement concerning the issuance of commemorative coins for the 67th Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. The Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made a statement concerning the results of the labor force survey, the consumer price index, and the results of the household budget survey. The Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement concerning the national ratio of jobs to applicants. I made a statement concerning the ministers who will serve as acting Cabinet members during their absence for overseas visits.
In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Justice made a statement concerning the 62nd Brighter Society Campaign month.
Also, I would like to make an announcement regarding the start of this summer's energy-saving period. In accordance with this summer's electricity supply-demand measures which were decided at the joint meeting of the Electricity Supply-Demand Review Meeting and the Energy and Environment Council on May 18, as July starts on Sunday, the energy-saving period will commence for all of Japan, except for Okinawa, from Monday of next week. While we apologize to electricity users for the repeated energy-saving requests and for any inconvenience this may cause, compared to the previous year we ask Kansai to save electricity by more than 15%, Kyushu by more than 10%, Hokkaido and Shikoku by more than 7%, and Chubu, Hokuriku, and Chugoku by more than 5%. In Tokyo and Tohoku, although no numerical targets are set in particular, we would like to ask for their cooperation in saving energy. Now, currently, work is under way for restarting Oi Nuclear Power Station of Kansai Electric Power Company. However, as delays in this work are also possible, we will stick with our energy-saving targets effective from next Monday, until we know for sure that the Unit 3 reactor will be restarted. The Government will make efforts to support the energy-saving initiatives of all electricity users, including the presentation of an easy-to-understand energy-saving menu, the holding of events such as briefings across the country, and disclosure of thorough supply-demand information through electricity forecasts and other means. Also, by working together will the local governments, electric power companies, and other stakeholders, we will make every effort to implement timely and appropriate as well as detailed measures in order to ensure that there is supply-demand balance.
I have one more announcement. A Ministerial Meeting on the Advancement of Disaster Waste Management was held before the Cabinet meeting. First, the Minister of the Environment briefed the meeting on the progress of the disaster waste disposal, including the wide-area disposal. Specifically, he reported that as of June 22, disposal of up to approximately 3.29 million tons or 17.5% of the total has been completed. Also, since the previous meeting held on April 17, nine full-fledged disposal programs were newly started in one metropolis and six prefectures. In addition, one metropolis and five prefectures, which are Akita Prefecture, Gunma Prefecture, Tokyo Metropolis, Shizuoka Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, and Fukuoka Prefecture, newly announced the implementation of six full-fledged disposal programs. Through these initiatives, in addition to the municipalities which already carry out the disposal, if the municipalities which are now making arrangements to do so do in fact accept disaster waste, this will mean that conclusion is in sight for the wide-area disposal of combustible waste and wood debris of Iwate Prefecture. Progress will also be made with respect to the disaster waste of Miyagi Prefecture, with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government making steady acceptances and Kitakyushu City's announcement of full-scale acceptance. Next, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister for Reconstruction, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported, respectively, on the initiatives for promoting the reuse of disaster waste. Based on these reports, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda lastly stated the Government's guidelines moving forward, which are mainly the following three items:
- In view of the progress of the wide-area disposal in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, the Government will further crystallize the wide-area disposal program;
- For municipalities to be able to accept disaster waste with greater reassurance, the Government, as it works to advance the wide-area disposal, will newly promote comprehensive measures designed to prevent the spreading of harmful rumors caused by the nuclear accident. With security assurance as our major premise, the Government will take steps to strengthen monitoring and develop the Government's system to tackle the harmful rumors as well as carry out thorough responses; and
- In order to transform non-combustible disaster waste into renewable materials, the Government will continue to advance initiatives, including the supply-demand matching, through the cooperation of relevant local organizations, with the partnership of the relevant ministries and agencies.
These were the three items. The Government will continue to make concerted efforts to move the initiatives forward without stopping the process toward the recovery and reconstruction of the disaster-afflicted areas.
- Energy-saving targets and restarting operations at Oi Nuclear Power Station
- A Japan-ROK General Security of Military Information Agreement
REPORTER: I would like to ask a question about energy-saving. You said that the Government will stick to the current targets until it is certain that operations of Oi Nuclear Power Station will be restarted. What does the Government presently envision as the stage when this will become certain?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Right now, work is under way to restart the Unit 3 reactor of Oi Nuclear Power Station, and this work is currently proceeding steadily. However, it is still conceivable that delays may occur in the future, and therefore, it cannot be determined that the Unit 3 reactor will be restarted. Thus, in the meantime, we will still stick with the energy-saving targets. At the point when the restarting of operations becomes certain, I believe we will once again be presenting our targets.
REPORTER: I believe there are several possible stages, for example, the stage when the reactor starts generating power or the stage when the reactor achieves full-scale operations. Is there a stage that the Government already has in mind?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I understand there is some length of time between restarting operations and achieving full-scale operations. We will consider these holistically.
REPORTER: My question is on something I also asked about the other day. It is reported that the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) will be concluded this afternoon. Can you discuss the status of the arrangements being made?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, Japan made the decision (to sign the agreement) at today's Cabinet meeting. With regard to the Japan-ROK security of confidential information agreement, arrangements are now being made to hold the signing ceremony in Tokyo this afternoon. We are now proceeding with the schedule to hold the signing ceremony between Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba and Ambassador of the ROK to Japan Shin Kak-soo. The ceremony is scheduled for this afternoon. (Note: Later, the signing ceremony was postponed after receiving notification by the ROK side.)
REPORTER: What is the reason for not including the word "military"?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: That is the title, and the contents are the same. I understand this was the conclusion which was reached during the final stage of the coordination.