Monday, July 2, 2012 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
REPORTER: I would like to inquire about the deployment of the Osprey transport aircraft. Yesterday, over the weekend, Minister of Defense Morimoto visited Okinawa and Yamaguchi, with an explanation of the situation toward the deployment, however from the Okinawa side there was a rather strong stance of resistance to the effect of "If an accident happens again, the base should immediately be closed and removed." Would you please outline the Government's future response to this issue?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government's future response, correct? The facts of the matter are, three days ago, on Friday, June 29, official notification to the host nation was issued by the United States regarding the deployment of the Osprey transport aircraft. On June 30 and July 1, Minister Morimoto directly met with related parties at the local governments of Okinawa and Yamaguchi to explain the situation. I will not go into details as to the contents of the explanation, but the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey in Okinawa is part of modernizing the capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance, and is judged to be crucially important from a security point of view. However, as to the result of the investigation into the recent accidents or information concerning safety, we will continue to strongly ask the U.S. Government for such information in order to gain the understanding of local residents.
Regarding the official notification to the host nation this time, Japan and the United States have undertaken various coordination efforts based on the concerns of the local residents. As a result, all aerial operations of the Osprey aircraft in Japan, including preparation flights at Iwakuni Air Base will be put on hold until the results of the investigation into the accidents were provided to the Japanese Government and the safety of aerial operations are reconfirmed.
As for the question regarding future matters, the Government will offer prompt and respectful explanations with regard to the deployment as we receive further information on the results of the investigation into the accidents from the US side. The Government will make all efforts to obtain the understanding of the local residents in relation to this issue.
REPORTER: Units 3 and 4 of Oi Nuclear Power Station have been reactivated, and just this morning reached criticality. From the Government's standpoint could you explain again the necessity of reactivating these plants?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Regarding Units 3 and 4 of Oi Nuclear Power Station, as a result of the meeting of the four ministers held recently on June 16, it was decided to move towards preparing for reactivation. In terms of the schedule, reactivation was already carried out and I have heard that power generation will gradually start possibly from July 4. In this sense, in accordance with the policy, procedures are being followed in turn, and preparations are currently underway, this is what I believe. Is this your question?
REPORTER: With the large protest occurring last Friday around the Prime Minister's Office, while making such a decision and with preparations progressing, again, could you explain the necessity of the reactivation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: From the Government's standpoint, just as the Prime Minister has stated here at the time of decision, it is the responsibility of the Government to decide to move forward with preparations, and I believe we are moving forward sequentially.
REPORTER: In relation to the resumption of operations, the protest that happened last Friday around the Prime Minister's Office involved over 10,000 people, and we have heard even the Prime Minister had said regarding the protest, "It's very loud, isn't it?" As Chief Cabinet Secretary, and as one of the people involved in the decision to resume operations, how do you view the protest situation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As the Prime Minister has stated previously, in a sense this is a large issue that has the potential to split public opinion in two, however, the Government has taken the Government's responsibility and has made its decision, and I believe we are moving forward accordingly.
REPORTER: Even after decisions were made, protests have continued to be held around the Prime Minister's Office. As a politician, in the future how will you listen to or deal with such actions, and again, what are your feelings regarding actions such as these protests?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Looking toward the future, individual voices of the people are now coming out in various forms, I believe. Regarding this, we have started requesting a national debate under the initiative of mid and long term reduction of nuclear power, as I believe it is called, in other words, reducing nuclear power generation as much as possible. I believe that this will reflect the opinion of the people.