Friday, September 14, 2012 (AM)
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)
Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura
- An overview of the Cabinet meeting
- A meeting of the Consumer Policy Council
- A meeting of the Ministerial Council on the Monthly Economic Report and Other Relative Issues
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Firstly, I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet Meeting. The meeting approved 32 written answers in response to questions submitted by Diet members and also a cabinet order and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers; the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made statements concerning the analysis of the 2012 labour economy and the presentation of certificates and commemorative gifts to 100-year-old senior citizens; Minister Matsubara made a statement concerning the development of an action plan for the assurance of consumers; the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries made a statement concerning the promotion of the consumption of produce from earthquake affected areas at the cafeterias of all ministerial offices; and finally, Prime Minister Noda made a statement concerning acting ministers while ministers in charge are away from Japan on an overseas visit.
In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Furukawa made a statement toward promoting the implementation of the Strategy for Rebirth of Japan.
Prior to the Cabinet Meeting, a meeting of committee members of the Consumer Policy Council was held and during the meeting, a draft action plan for the assurance of consumers was developed based on the Prime Minister's instructions given at the meeting of the Consumer Policy Council in July. The main focus of this draft is addressing the ways to strengthen communication on food and radiation, and ways to prevent consumer problems involving the elderly. The draft prescribes specific policies and measures on those matters. This plan is expected to be finalized early next year after making adjustments for the budget, however we would like to actively work on those matters by beginning to follow the policies and measures outlined in the plan. Please direct any question pertaining to this matter to the Consumer Affairs Agency.
After the Cabinet Meeting, a meeting of the Ministerial Council on the Monthly Economic Report and Other Relative Issues was held. The assessment of the overall economy saw a downward revision and it was concluded that in light of the slowing of the global economy, economic recovery appears to have stagnated. The Japanese economy is expected to head toward recovery; however, with a high degree of uncertainty regarding the prospect of the euro zone debt crisis, there is a risk that a further downturn in the global economy, and instability in the financial and capital markets, may place downward pressure on the Japanese economy, requiring us to retain a sense of vigilance. For more details on this matter, please direct inquiries to the Cabinet Office (Economic and Fiscal Analysis).
- Japan-China relations (the Senkaku Islands)
- Japan's energy policy
REPORTER: It has been reported that vessels of the Chinese authorities crossed into the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands this morning. Could you please inform us of the details of the situation and the Government's response?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Let me first provide you with the details of the situation. The offshore patrol vessels, Kaikan 51 and Kaikan 66, belonging to the State Oceanic Administration of China, crossed into Japanese contiguous waters around Taisho Island at around 4:57 am and 5:08 am respectively this morning. Furthermore, Kaikan 51 and Kaikan 66 crossed into Japanese territorial waters around Taisho-jima Island at around 6:18 am and 6:20 am respectively. It was also confirmed that at around 6:43 am four vessels, Kaikan 50, 26, 27 and 15, crossed into Japanese contiguous waters north of Kuba Island of the Senkaku Islands. Between around 7:06 am and 7:15 am, these four vessels crossed into Japanese territorial waters around Kuba Island. Following these incidents, the Information Liaison Office was formed within the Crisis Management Center at the Prime Minister's Office at 4:57 am, immediately after the crossings into Japanese contiguous waters. Following the crossings into Japanese territorial waters, the Information Liaison Office was reorganized into the Response Office at the Prime Minister's Office at 6:18 am, and is currently working to strengthen information gathering pertaining to the matter. I visited the response office shortly after 8 am this morning. During the ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting this morning, the Prime Minister instructed all relevant ministries to cooperate with a sense of vigilance to facilitate the thorough warning and surveillance of the region and to continue to gather information. The Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel demanded via wireless communications that the six vessels leave Japanese territorial waters. Kaikan 51 and 66 left the area at around 7:48 am and Kaikan 26 left the waters at around 8:30 am. Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels and aircraft are currently patrolling and monitoring the area. Additionally, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Chikao Kawai summoned the Chinese Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Cheng Yonghua, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) at around 8:50 am, as instructed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to make a strong protest against the intrusion of the Chinese vessels. The vice-minister also firmly requested that the vessels leave Japanese territorial waters. For detailed developments of the situation, please contact the Japan Coast Guard. I would like to again repeat the following: There is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Indeed, the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan. It is extremely regrettable that there was an intrusion of our territorial waters this morning, and the Japanese Government is currently sternly requesting the immediate departure of the Chinese vessels. The Government is determined to conduct warning and surveillance activities with close cooperation of the relevant ministries, under the leadership of the Prime Minister's Office.
REPORTER: In relation to this, according to your analysis, was this intrusion into Japanese territorial waters influenced by the Government's nationalization of the Senkaku Islands? Also, you stated that all possible measures will be taken. Are you implementing any special warning and surveillance or surveillance structures in response to this incident?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, the Japanese Government would like to refrain from commenting on whether or not the Chinese vessels had any intentions. As to your second question, the Government is enhancing these structures in full partnership with various ministries based on a range of scenarios.
REPORTER: In this latest case, six vessels entered Japanese territorial waters in succession. I believe this operation was conducted on a rather large-scale basis, in light of the cases we have had until now. What are the Government's views on this? In addition, how many JCG patrol vessels are being deployed for the warning and surveillance activities?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: In view of the cases up to now, we believe that six vessels were indeed an unprecedented case. As for the JCG's structures, I will not disclose how many vessels for reasons of information (confidentiality). I can say only that we are taking all possible measures.
REPORTER: You stated that the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs summoned the Chinese Ambassador. What was the Chinese Ambassador's response to Japan's requests?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I understand that China repeated its usual assertions. Japan fully stated its position on the Senkaku Islands as I stated a moment ago, and then requested that, in addition to the issue of the vessels, China, above all, ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in the country.
REPORTER: The Government's request to Hokkaido to save electricity by more than 7% will expire today. There have been no cases in particular of power shortages and other problems which had been of concern. Can you discuss your thoughts on this?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government's power saving initiative ended on September 7 in the service areas of Kansai, Shikoku, and Kyushu Electric Power Companies and will end today in the service area of Hokkaido Electric Power Company. This summer, the power saving target was generally achieved, or an even larger demand reduction was able to be achieved in the areas served by each electric power company. We would like to express our appreciation to the people in Japan and the business community for their immense cooperation with the power saving effort. In addition to the cooperation with the power saving initiative, thanks to, for example, the efforts made to secure power supply, including the restarting of Oi Nuclear Power Station, as well as the fact that there were few problems experienced at nuclear power stations compared to usual years and that no droughts occurred which exceeded prior expectations, we were able to get through the summer without having to implement planned power outages. In regards to saving power without the imposition of numerical targets, as the late summer heat is expected to continue, we will ask people to save power within a reasonable range until September 28. With respect to further analysis of this summer's power supply-demand factors and this winter's power supply-demand measures, we will present this information at another time following intra-Government coordination.
REPORTER: Returning to the subject of energy policy, which I also asked about yesterday, has the Government received a report of the visit to the United States of Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Akihisa Nagashima and Parliamentary Secretary of Cabinet Office Hiroshi Ogushi?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: These two officials held meetings with U.S. officials to inform them that Japan will continue to fulfill its responsibilities to the international community among other contents. Broadly speaking, I understand that the two sides confirmed they would continue to hold discussions and work together as Japan works out its strategy. I believe various reports will be made going forward.
REPORTER: As you noted in your discussion a moment ago on the talks between Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Chikao Kawai and Ambassador Cheng Yonghua, there have been a series of assaults and incidents against Japanese nationals in China. Can you please share your thoughts on this?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I understand that these incidents are taking place in response to calls made in multiple cities based on China's own assertions concerning the Senkaku Islands. I understand that there have been some assaults and other incidents against Japanese nationals. The Government, through MOFA, is once again requesting that Chinese relevant departments to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in China. In addition, MOFA is providing information about demonstrations to Japanese nationals in China and calling on people to be on alert during their stay in China. As I stated a moment ago, when Ambassador Cheng Yonghua was summoned to MOFA, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Kawai strongly requested that above all, all possible measures be taken to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.