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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 5, 2017 (AM)

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: It appears that at about 6:42 a.m. this morning, North Korea launched a ballistic missile in a north-easterly direction from the proximity of Sinpo on the east coast of North Korea. This missile is believed to have flown for approximately 60 km and fallen in the sea off the east coast of North Korea. This missile is not believed to have fallen within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The details of the launch are currently being analyzed. As of now there have been no confirmed reports of damages to nearby aircraft or vessels. Immediately following the launch a report was made to the Prime Minister, who issued instructions on three points. The Response Office within the Prime Minister's Office for the Situation in North Korea engaged in consolidation of information, and from 7:30 a.m. a meeting among director-general level officials of the relevant ministries and agencies was held, in addition to which, from 10:00 a.m. a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) was convened. The launch of the ballistic missile by North Korea today is an extremely problematic and dangerous act from the standpoint of ensuring the security of aircraft and vessels. Furthermore, the launch is also a violation of relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions and the Government immediately issued a serious protest against North Korea through "the embassy channel" in Beijing, condemning the launch in the strongest possible terms. These repeated actions by North Korea are entirely unacceptable. The Government will coordinate closely with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and other relevant countries, including at the UN Security Council, to strongly urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint, and, with a sense of urgency, take all necessary responses to be able to respond to any situation. In particular, we will be collaborating closely with the United States on various levels, ahead of the upcoming U.S.-China summit meeting. The Government will communicate information as appropriate, including, when necessary, through the J-ALERT system. The people are asked to stay tuned to information from the Government and act calmly.

Q&As

REPORTER: With regard to the type of missile that was launched today, the United States and ROK military forces are suggesting that it could be a new type of medium-range ballistic missile. Could you tell us the status of analysis by the Government of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the announcements that have been made by the United States and the ROK. In any event, we are still in the process of analyzing the details of the latest launch.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Does the Government's analysis suggest that this missile launch was a success?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is a possibility that the launch failed, but the details are still currently being analyzed.

REPORTER: A related question. The distance flown by the missile was 60 km, which I believe is extremely short for the distance flown by a ballistic missile. At the same time, Defense Minister Inada has noted that analysis suggests that it did not fly to an unusually high altitude. How far has the Government progressed with its analysis of the launch mechanism and flight trajectory for this latest launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have already stated everything that we know at the present time. The details are currently being analyzed.

REPORTER: Following the launch Prime Minister Abe noted that further acts of provocation are a conceivable possibility. Does the Government have any information to suggest that there are concrete signs of further provocative actions by North Korea in the near future?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In light of the threats from North Korea, as the Government's greatest duty is to protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the people of Japan, we are constantly working with a sense of urgency to engage in monitoring and surveillance and working in cooperation with the United States and the ROK in particular to collect information. We are taking all possible responses.

REPORTER: Some information from analysis suggests that North Korea is also preparing for a nuclear test. What does the Government think about the possibility of North Korea going ahead with another nuclear test?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government always collects and analyzes information on nuclear and missile-related developments in North Korea with maximum interest. I would like to refrain from making any comment about specific details.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the status of development of North Korea's nuclear and missile technologies. Given the increasing frequency of North Korea's missile launches and also nuclear tests, is it the Government's view that it has achieved considerable developments in such technologies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Last year in particular there were two nuclear tests and since last year there have been more than 20 missile launches. Given these circumstances, the Government has stated its view that the level of threat posed by North Korea has elevated to a new stage. We are resolved to continue to work closely with the United States and the ROK and firmly protect the safety and security of the people of Japan under an advanced surveillance structure.

REPORTER: I have a point of confirmation. You have noted that the single missile launch today was from the vicinity of Sinpo on the eastern coast of North Korea, but was it a land-based launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are aware of whether it was a land or sea-based launch, but the Government would like to refrain from commenting on this point.

REPORTER: I have a related question. As you have already noted, a U.S.-China summit meeting is scheduled to take place from tomorrow. The issues of North Korea are expected to be on the agenda. What response does the Government expect from the United States and China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, as I stated moments ago, the United States is our ally. Japan, the United States and the ROK will continue to cooperate and we will also be engaging with China through diplomatic channels, calling on China to use its standing as the country with the greatest influence on North Korea to use all opportunities to urge North Korea to cease its provocative actions.

REPORTER: Ahead of the U.S.-China summit meeting is the Government making preparations to hold Japan-U.S. summit telephone talks and Japan-U.S. foreign ministerial talks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Particularly following the recent Japan-U.S. summit meeting, Japan's relationship with the United States is such that we can arrange such meetings as and when necessary.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It is expected that the issue of North Korean nuclear and missile development will be a major agenda item in the U.S.-China summit meeting that will be held from April 6. What is the Government's view on the purpose of North Korea's latest missile launch, and is it the view that the launch was aimed at keeping the United States and China in check ahead of their meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government would like to refrain from making any comment on the intentions and objectives of the latest missile launch by North Korea. In any event, the repeated provocative actions by North Korea are a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. We view that these repeated actions are a clear provocation in terms of international security and are entirely unacceptable. In any case, the United States and China are two countries that have a great deal of influence on North Korea and as such we will continue to engage diligently in diplomatic activities.

REPORTER: I believe the NSC was convened a short while ago. Could you tell us what was confirmed in the meeting and if there were any new instructions from the Prime Minister?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The NSC meeting was convened from 10:00 a.m. this morning. Although I would like to refrain from explaining the details of the Prime Minister's instructions, he noted that there is a conceivable possibility of further provocative actions by North Korea and issued instructions for every measure to be taken to maintain an advanced surveillance structure to protect the lives and assets of the people in all potential circumstances, while working closely together with the United States and the ROK.

REPORTER: The United States is hardening its stance against North Korea. Following North Korea's repeated missile launches, does the Government consider that there is a possibility of the United States taking military action against North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from speculating on any future response by the United States. In any event, to date the United States' position on North Korea has been that all options are on the table, which is appreciated by the Government of Japan.

REPORTER: I have one further question. You have already noted that China has the greatest influence on North Korea, but given that the latest missile launch has come before the U.S.-China summit meeting, what do you think this suggests about the current state of China-North Korea relations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is analyzing various sources of information and I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.

REPORTER: I have a question about the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. China has opposed the deployment of THAAD in the ROK, but has any consideration been given, or is there an outlook for the deployment of THAAD in Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is not engaged in any concrete considerations on this matter.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic and one that I have asked on frequent previous occasions. Due to the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station there are still 33 countries and regions that are restricting imports of food products, particularly from Fukushima Prefecture. Given that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in 2020, could you tell us once again about the Government's outlook with regard to concrete targets and any new measures aimed at completely eliminating such import restrictions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is making concerted efforts to engage with countries that have import restrictions in place relating to the nuclear accident, particularly on products from Fukushima. Through diplomatic channels we are providing various data that demonstrates the safety of such products, with a view to achieving the elimination of import restrictions without delay.

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