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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 8, 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]

Q&A

REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea’s missile launches. This morning North Korea launched a number of short-range missiles. Could you please share any information that the Government is currently aware of?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) Joint Chiefs of Staff have issued a statement that North Korea today launched multiple missiles that appear to be surface-to-ship missiles, rather than ballistic missiles, in the direction of the Sea of Japan from the Wonsan area.

REPORTER: According to the Government’s analysis, could you say how many surface-to-ship missiles were launched, or what the flight distance or other details are?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are currently in the process of examining the details with the related countries.

REPORTER: Could you please clarify whether Japan has lodged a protest to North Korea over this action? If Japan has not, could you please explain the reason?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: None of the recently launched missiles, which appear to be surface-to-ship missiles, have been confirmed as having landed in Japanese territory or its exclusive economic zone. This recent action also does not affect Japan’s national security. Therefore, although the Government has been responding appropriately taking into account North Korea’s previous behavior and developments in the international community, it decided that the current action does not need a protest this time.

REPORTER: North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles. What do you think was the aim of launching the surface-to-ship missiles this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is currently analyzing the situation together with related countries.

REPORTER: There was neither a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) today nor an emergency briefing by you this morning. Does the decision to not hold these also reflect the view that this event did not have an impact on national security?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is the Government’s view.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm one thing. You just said that Japan is aware of the reports of the launching of multiple missiles. Are you saying that the Government is aware of the reports or it has definitely confirmed the missile launches for itself?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on individual details. The Government is monitoring the situation with the utmost interest.

REPORTER: Changing topics, I have a question regarding the relocation of the US military’s Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Okinawa. Mr. Takeshi Onaga, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, yesterday stated that Okinawa plans to file a lawsuit against the national government to halt construction work. How does the Government view this and how will it address the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Governor Onaga only stated that he plans to submit a proposal to the Prefectural Assembly. This proposal still needs to be discussed within Okinawa Prefecture. I would therefore like to refrain from commenting on behalf of the Government at this point in time. What I would say is that the Ministry of Defense is taking the appropriate steps to carry out the necessary legal procedures for conducting the relocation, upon receiving the confirmation of the Fisheries Agency, which has jurisdiction over the Fishery Act and approved the regulations on the fisheries adjustment in Okinawa Prefecture. Additionally, the recent Supreme Court decision finalized the judicial determination that Governor Onaga’s revoking of the land reclamation approval was illegal. Governor Onaga himself clearly stated during the judicial process that he would abide by the Court’s decision as the head of the local administration. Also, the Government and Okinawa agreed in settlement provisions reached in March 2016 to work together and proceed sincerely in accordance with the Court’s decision and its reasoning. Governor Onaga decided to take this recent action despite these agreements. It is very regrettable. Japan is a country that abides by laws. The Government intends to work sincerely together with Okinawa to advance the Henoko construction work in accordance with the Supreme Court decision and settlement provisions.

REPORTER: So, as you also just explained, Governor Onaga stated that he would abide by the Supreme Court’s final decision in last year’s judicial process. Therefore his decision on this occasion to resume the legal battle is clearly a violation of items agreed in the settlement provisions. Is that right?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have to say it is very regrettable. The Court has issued a final decision. There are also the settlement provisions. I find it extremely regrettable that, despite this, Governor Onaga has decided to proceed in the direction of resuming the legal suit.

REPORTER: While the Prefectural Assembly still needs to conduct its review, what type of impact do you expect on the construction work if a lawsuit is actually filed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government intends to continue to proceed with the work while taking sufficient care that it is done safely, and paying due consideration to the natural environment and people’s living environments based on related laws.

REPORTER: I would like to change subject and ask about the conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. Meetings will be restarting soon. Japan, meanwhile, has stated that it will not participate. Could you please explain once again the reasons for not participating and Japan’s response, including whether it will attend or skip the next meeting.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan believes it is important to cooperate with nuclear weapon states in order to realize a world without nuclear weapons. However, the five main nuclear weapon states, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China are not involved in nor attend these negotiations. Under such circumstances, the initiative will not contribute to the realization of a world without nuclear weapons and could widen the gap among nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, and actually make it tougher to attain a world without nuclear weapons. Taking all of these points into consideration, Japan decided against participating in the negotiations.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations recently approved a resolution calling on the Government to participate in negotiations. It asserts that not participating abandons Japan’s responsibility as a country that suffered atomic bombings. How does the Government intend to obtain the understanding of these organizations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The views of atomic bomb sufferers are very valuable and significant. The Government decided on its stance on this matter after a serious and thorough review of how to produce realistic results, and while taking into consideration those views. Japan will continue to participate actively in frameworks and areas that promote cooperation among nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Japan will also continue to carefully explain its consistent view within Japan and also to other countries.

REPORTER: I have one last question. The next meeting appears to be scheduled to last until July 7. Some participants are hoping to adopt the Convention within that timeframe. In light of this, will the Government make some type of statement or express its opinion at the next meeting? For example, it presented Japan’s views at the previous high-level meeting.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The approach of these meetings will not contribute to the realization of a world without nuclear weapons. It may in fact have the opposite effect by widening the gap among nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. It does not fit with Japan’s stance. Japan has been explaining its consistent view at various meetings. In any case, Japan will not participate in these meetings.

REPORTER: If I may change the subject, I would like to ask about preparatory drills for ballistic missile launches by North Korea. Some media sources are reporting that coordination is taking place to conduct drills to protect residents in Nagasaki Prefecture in the case of a military attack as soon as next month. Could you please share the state of the Government’s considerations and the purpose of the drills?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the drills in Nagasaki. Various drills are taking place, including J-Alert. This is part of such drills.

(Abridged)

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