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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 4, 2017 (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:Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to visit Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Estonia from July 5 to 12. In Belgium the Prime Minister is scheduled to have a dinner meeting with Prime Minister Michel of Belgium, in addition to which he is scheduled to hold the Japan-EU Summit and talks with Secretary General Stoltenberg of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In Germany the Prime Minister is scheduled to attend the G20 Hamburg Summit on July 7 and 8, where frank exchanges of opinions at the leader level will take place towards achieving sustainable growth in the global economy. At the G20 Summit the Prime Minister will also engage actively in diplomacy with other leaders, including President Trump of the United States, President Putin of Russia and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK), advocating Japan’s views with regard to major issues, including the issue of North Korea. In particular, in addition to bilateral meetings with Russia and the ROK, a Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit meeting is also scheduled to be held, at which the Government seeks to confirm close cooperation with the United States and the ROK with regard to the response to North Korea. Arrangements are also being made to hold a bilateral summit meeting with China. Through the Prime Minister’s visit to Europe the Government seeks to engage in candid exchanges of opinions concerning Japan-Europe relations and the various challenges facing the international community. We also seek to confirm that a strongly united Japan and Europe will together contribute to global peace and prosperity.

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the missile launch by North Korea. North Korea has announced a short while ago that it conducted its first successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Could you tell us what kinds of information, analysis or reports were discussed pertaining to this matter in the National Security Council (NSC) and whether the Prime Minister has issued any new instructions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, today’s missile launch and subsequent announcement by North Korea disregard repeated warnings from the international community and are totally unacceptable. In the Japan-U.S. summit telephone talk held on July 3, the two leaders confirmed that they will promote close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation in order to lead the international community to strengthen pressure on North Korea. At the G20 Hamburg Summit a Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit meeting and a Japan-ROK bilateral summit meeting will be held to discuss ways to further strengthen pressure on North Korea. The Prime Minister intends to call on President Xi Jinping and President Putin to fulfill a more constructive role. Japan and the United States have agreed that we will engage in specific actions in order to enhance defense structures and capabilities to deter North Korea. We will continue to work to strengthen Japan’s own defense capabilities and the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. At the same time we will work closely bilaterally with the United States and trilaterally with the United States and the ROK in maintaining an advanced surveillance and monitoring structure and we are taking all possible measures to ensure the safety of the public. In the second meeting of the NSC today the latest information concerning the ballistic missile launch by North Korea were confirmed. In addition to conducting analysis of the situation the meeting engaged in discussion on Japan’s response to the latest situation in North Korea, following the special report issued by North Korea at 3:30 p.m. today.

REPORTER: The United States has indicated its view that the missile launched today was not an ICBM, but rather a medium-range ballistic missile. What is the Government’s current analysis?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, when comprehensively considering the various sources of information available at the current time, it would appear that at about 9:39 a.m. this morning, a ballistic missile was launched from the west coast of North Korea in the vicinity of Kusong, which fell in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). At this time one missile is confirmed to have been launched, which reached an altitude in excess of 2,500 km and flew for approximately 40 minutes over a distance of approximately 900 km. It is estimated to have fallen in the Sea of Japan, approximately 300 km off the coast of the Oga Peninsula. The maximum flight distance is now being carefully analyzed.

REPORTER: Given the altitude reached by the missile and its time in flight, does that mean the possibility cannot be ruled out that it was an ICBM?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is being studied carefully.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Both the United States and China have expressed the view that an ICBM launch, along with North Korea’s nuclear test, poses a serious threat. If it is true that today’s launch was of an ICBM there is a possibility that both the United States and China will impose their own independent sanctions on North Korea, further stepping up tensions. What kind of response will Japan make given this situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is fully prepared through working closely with the United States and the ROK, collecting necessary information, and maintaining surveillance and monitoring structures to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan. We will also call strongly on other countries concerned, such as Russia and China, including at the upcoming G20 Hamburg Summit.

REPORTER: The view to date has been that North Korea has been cautious about implementing a test launch of an ICBM, due to the possibility of angering the United States and China. What is your view, therefore, of the factors underlying the test launch of an ICBM at this timing, if it is true that North Korea has launched an ICBM?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are in the process of collecting and analyzing various sources of information with regard to that point.

REPORTER: Does the Government consider that North Korea may implement a sixth nuclear test, following on from the previous test in September last year?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is currently engaged in full-fledged monitoring and surveillance activities of North Korea, including with regard to that point.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister has stated that the latest missile launch has clearly elevated the level of threat posed by North Korea. If this missile proves to be an ICBM it could mean that the situation enters a wholly new dimension in which the United States’ nuclear deterrent may lose its potency. Do you think such concerns are likely?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the Government is currently engaged in careful analysis of the maximum flight distance of the latest launch.

REPORTER: Following the announcement by North Korea, does the Prime Minister plan to hold telephone talks with President Trump or President Moon prior to the G20 Summit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There are no such plans.

REPORTER: Will the Government attempt to recover the remains of the missile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is still under consideration.

REPORTER: I imagine that with the G20 Summit due to open shortly Japan would be engaging in consultations with the United States, the ROK and other countries concerned. How does Japan intend to approach this issue in the international arena and what kind of a response will Japan be calling for in response to the North Korean situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I noted in my opening statement, at the G20 Summit frank exchanges of opinions at the leader level will take place. Furthermore, the Prime Minister will engage actively in diplomacy with other leaders, including President Trump of the United States, President Putin of Russia and President Moon of the ROK, advocating Japan’s views with regard to major issues, including the issue of North Korea. Arrangements are also being made to hold a bilateral summit meeting with China. Through such summit diplomacy we aim to achieve a robust international response to the issue of North Korea. Also, given that a Japan-U.S.-ROK summit meeting is planned during the G20 Summit, the Government seeks to use this visit to Europe to thoroughly explain and gain understanding at the leader level about the threat posed by North Korea.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Returning to the topic of North Korea, the Government’s basic position to date has been to ensure a consistent global response in strengthening pressure on North Korea, through economic measures and other means. However, it is still the case that North Korea is implementing missile launches in swift succession and it has today launched what it claims to be an ICBM. Do you think that the effectiveness of the approach taken against North Korea to date has reached its limit?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan will continue to work closely with the United States and neighboring countries including the ROK as we aim to further increase pressure on North Korea.


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