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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 9, 2016 (PM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved four items for submission to the Diet as well as cabinet orders and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement concerning the Suicide Prevention Week in FY2016.

In ministerial discussions following the Cabinet meeting, Minister Kozo Yamamoto made a statement concerning the request for proposals regarding decentralization reform in 2016.

Today, through a round robin meeting of the Headquarters for Japan’s Economic Revitalization, it was decided that the Council on Investments for the Future would be established to serve as a new control tower for the growth strategy. The aim is to integrate the Industrial Competitiveness Council and the Public-Private Dialogue towards Investment for the Future into a new organization in order to resolutely promote structural reforms. Six private-sector eminent members of the Council on Investments for the Future were informally decided, as listed in the material in front of you. They will be formally appointed as Council members following the necessary procedures. In addition, the meetings for the thorough promotion of structural reforms were established under the Council on Investments for the Future, and similarly, the necessary procedures will be taken. The Abenomics policies will be promoted with the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the control tower for macro economic and fiscal policy, and the Council on Investments for the Future, the control tower for the micro growth strategy, constituting their twin pillars. Under this new structure, the Government will resolutely carry out structural reforms.

A short while ago, the National Security Council (NSC) held a meeting and discussed information related to the nuclear test conducted by North Korea. Based on a comprehensive consideration of the information that we have so far, including observation of seismic waves that are different from normal, the Government deems that North Korea conducted a nuclear test today. Following on from the nuclear test on January 6 of this year, North Korea went ahead with a series of nuclear tests in an unprecedentedly short period of time. In addition, North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles, including short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). North Korea’s nuclear and missile development constitutes a grave threat to Japan’s security and seriously undermines the peace and stability of the region as well as the international community. The nuclear test once again clearly violates the relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions, and violates the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration as well as the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. Japan cannot accept this by any means, and immediately lodged a serious protest against North Korea through the embassy channel in Beijing as well as condemned North Korea in the strongest possible terms. Furthermore, Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have immediately begun making arrangements for holding an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Based on the outcomes of the NSC meeting held earlier, the Prime Minister instructed three new items in addition to the three items he already instructed, namely: work thoroughly to collect and analyze information concerning the situation in North Korea going forward; strengthen monitoring in collaboration with related countries in order to grasp the impact of the radioactive material accompanying the nuclear test; and undertake maximum efforts, such as preparation for unforeseen situations, to ensure the safety and security of the public. Additionally, at the NSC meeting earlier, the Statement by the Prime Minister was deliberated and finalized as has been distributed to you, so I ask that you please take a look at it. As regards the impact on Japan of the radioactive substances released by the underground nuclear test, it is generally considered that radioactive substances are unlikely to be released into the atmosphere in the case of underground nuclear tests. In fact, abnormal values were not detected in Japan following North Korea’s announcement of past four nuclear tests. We ask the people to remain calm and continue on with their daily lives and activities as usual.

Q&As

REPORTER: You stated that the Government of Japan deemed that a nuclear test was conducted based on a comprehensive consideration. What else were considered aside from the seismic waves?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, we made this judgment based on a comprehensive consideration, in light of what we know from previous experiences.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Today, North Korea marked the 68th anniversary of its founding. What is your analysis of the reason that North Korea went ahead with the nuclear test at this timing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, Japan had been monitoring North Korea’s activities related to nuclear tests on a day-to-day basis in coordination with the United States and other countries concerned. It was in this context that North Korea conducted the nuclear test. The Government would like to refrain from making comments due to the nature of the matter. At any event, it is true that we had been monitoring North Korea in light of such information. 

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning this matter. You stated that Japan would request the Security Council to convene an emergency meeting. Is it possible that Japan would aim for the adoption of a more rigorous sanctions resolution than the sanctions resolution of March?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, North Korea conducted a nuclear test in January and ballistic missile launches in February, and it was in this context that Japan decided on its measures. In addition, in March, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2270 that significantly added and strengthened sanctions against North Korea. Japan has steadily implemented its measures, including those decided in February of this year, as well as measures based on UN Security Council resolutions. Japan will further enhance its cooperation with the countries concerned, including the United States, the ROK, China, and Russia, and with the international community in ensuring the effectiveness of relevant Security Council resolutions and requesting responses against North Korea, including further Security Council measures. Japan will employ the most effective means against North Korea for finding a comprehensive solution to the outstanding issues, such as the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues.  

REPORTER: A related question. Does that mean that the sanctions of both the UN and Japan would be strengthened based on the current situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We will be considering Japan’s further sanctions.

REPORTER: A follow-up question. ROK Armed Force officials have noted that today’s nuclear test was the largest detonation by North Korea on record. What is the Government’s analysis of the magnitude of today’s test and North Korea’s objectives?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated a short while ago, Japan is devoting its maximum attention to monitoring North Korea’s nuclear test and missile launch activities on a day-to-day basis. Japan is working closely with the United States and the ROK. It was in this context that Japan deemed that a nuclear test was conducted today. We are taking these measures as we collect and analyze information. However, due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from elaborating on the details. 

REPORTER: A question regarding this matter. This Monday, North Korea launched three ballistic missiles. It is known that the precision of North Korea’s missile technology is improving. Following today’s nuclear test, North Korea may mount such missiles onto nuclear warheads. How does the Government perceive this threat?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government constantly takes into account such matters in taking a variety of measures.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Earlier you stated that Japan would consider further sanctions. Currently the Japanese Government already imposes quite rigorous sanctions. Specifically sanctions in which areas does the Government think can be strengthened?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We believe it is critically important to examine the current sanctions imposed by Japan and by Security Council resolutions. In parallel with this, we hope to implement effective measures in response to today’s nuclear test.

REPORTER: However, as things currently stand, North Korea has launched missiles in succession and continued to conduct nuclear tests despite the implementation of quite rigorous sanctions by the international community and the Japanese Government. What do you regard is necessary to increase pressure on North Korea? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated from before, it is a fact that we have an outlaw nation in our periphery. Under these circumstances, in order to secure the lives and peaceful daily lives of the Japanese people, the Government, since the inauguration of the administration, has developed legislations that contribute to safety and security, including the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets and the Legislation for Peace and Security. Through developing these legislations, the Government continues to undertake maximum monitoring and surveillance through coordinated efforts.      

REPORTER: It is being suggested that the existing sanctions need to be more effective. In this context, Vice-President Komura of the Liberal Democratic Party commented to the press moments ago that Japan needs to undertake comprehensive efforts to coordinate with China and Russia, countries which have a decisive influence on North Korea. What is the Government’s view on urging China and Russia for their support?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I said a short while ago, we consider it critically important, as a matter of course, to coordinate closely with the United States and the ROK, and at the same time urge China and Russia for their support. 

REPORTER: Will this be done on a one-on-one basis in addition to efforts at the UN Security Council?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: A series of international meetings were held recently, including the G20 Summit. It is true that at these meetings the Prime Minister raised the issue of North Korea and requested cooperation.

REPORTER: Are there any plans to hold telephone talks to coordinate with various countries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We do not have any planned at the moment. As regards this issue, this is not the first time North Korea conducted a nuclear test. As I just stated, it is true that at the series of international meetings that have been held through yesterday, Japan has been working with various countries to steadily address North Korea’s violation of UN resolutions.

REPORTER: Does the Japanese Government know whether North Korea gave advance notice to the United States or China in going ahead with the nuclear test?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We do not know.

REPORTER: Moments ago, you stated that North Korea went ahead with a series of nuclear tests in an unprecedentedly short period of time. As you stated, North Korea has likewise launched ballistic missiles in succession. North Korea’s military threats continue to escalate. What do you think is behind this escalation in threats?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While the Government is collecting information and conducting analyses on this basis, it would like to refrain from making comments due to the nature of the matter. Having said that, I would like to reiterate that to date, the Government has been making steady efforts to ensure the safety and security of the people by undertaking maximum efforts to conduct around-the-clock monitoring of North Korea’s series of actions.

REPORTER: A related question. Japan and North Korea also have the major issue of the abduction issue. What is your view on the impact of today’s nuclear test on the progress of resolving this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, it is true that Japan has so far made every effort to return all abductees to Japan as quickly as possible. We seek to resolve the abduction issue by any means possible, based on the principles of action for action and dialogue and pressure. This is the top priority of the Abe Cabinet. Therefore, we are making ceaseless and firm efforts for this matter.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding Japan’s sanctions. Last time the UN’s sanctions were delayed, and Japan’s sanctions were imposed ahead of the UN’s sanctions. What is your outlook regarding the timing of Japan’s sanctions relative to the sanctions under a new UN Security Council resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This will be dealt with in coordination with other member states.

REPORTER: A related question. Does this mean that Japan’s sanctions may precede the UN’s sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, we gather that if the UN’s sanctions are not imposed in a speedy manner, then obviously Japan would be taking steps in coordination with other countries that are imposing sanctions. In doing so we will be fully considering what sort of sanctions would be most effective.

(Abridged)

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