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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

July 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to the missile launch by North Korea. The Secretary of State of the United States has expressed the view that the ballistic missile launched yesterday was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). What is the analysis of the Government of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is aware that the United States made the announcement you mentioned. While the Government is still analyzing the details, when comprehensively considering the various information obtained up to the current time, we believe there is a strong possibility that the ballistic missile launched yesterday was an ICBM.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Trump administration has thus far warned North Korea that there is a red line that may not be crossed. Does the Government consider there is a high likelihood that the recent launch crossed that red line?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not always clear what is meant by a line that may not be crossed, the so-called red line. In any case, the ballistic missile launch on the 4th was conducted in disregard of the repeated warnings made by the international community, and it is absolutely intolerable. Japan will continue to closely cooperate with the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and other related countries, and strongly urge North Korea to refrain from provocative acts and furthermore comply with relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions.

REPORTER: The United States has indicated that it would not rule out military options. How do you view the likelihood of the United States taking military action in response to the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We would like to refrain from speculating on the U.S. response. Having said that, Japan and the United States have agreed to take concrete actions to enhance our defensive posture and capability in order to deter North Korea. We will continue to steadily strengthen Japan’s own defensive capability as well as the deterrence and response capability of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. At the same time, we will work closely with the United States bilaterally and with the United States and the ROK trilaterally to maintain a high state of alert and take all possible measures to ensure the safety of our people. The Government will be fully prepared to respond to any situation, and at the same time is firmly taking steps to maintain the necessary readiness for various situations to protect the lives and property of the Japanese people.

REPORTER: I have a related question. I would like to confirm. If the missile is an ICBM, will it be the Government’s assessment that the situation surrounding North Korea has reached a new level of urgency?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, Japan will work closely with the United States bilaterally and with the United States and the ROK trilaterally to be able to respond to any situation and will take all possible measures to this end. The Government is also making preparations and considerations to ensure the protection of the lives and property of the Japanese people by envisioning a variety of scenarios.

REPORTER: In response to the missile launch by North Korea, the United States and the ROK carried out joint exercises of their missile units today. How does the Government evaluate this U.S.-ROK activity?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We consider it to be a part of the various U.S.-ROK bilateral responses.

REPORTER: In response to the missile launch by North Korea, an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council will be held. What actions will Japan urge the various countries to take towards North Korea’s compliance with the existing UN Security Council resolutions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Japan, the United States and the ROK requested China to hold this emergency meeting. Regarding the outlook going forward, as the meeting has not yet occurred, I would like to refrain from making speculative comments about the Security Council. The recent missile launch was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. On that basis, we would like to send a strong message as the UN Security Council, and firmly cooperate with the United States, the ROK, and additionally China, Russia, and other related countries to respond to the situation.

REPORTER: I have one more related question. Regarding China which is considered the patron of North Korea, what is Japan’s view concerning the necessity of China implementing an oil embargo against North Korea as a measure to prevent provocative acts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, Japan will work closely primarily with the United States bilaterally and with the United States and the ROK trilaterally. At the same time, as China and Russia undoubtedly have influence over North Korea, we will firmly hold talks with these countries to ensure North Korea does not repeat any further provocative acts.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Do you regard that an oil embargo is necessary to prevent further provocative acts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have stated, as China accounts for 90% of the trade with North Korea, it has a particularly large role in these sanctions. In that context, it goes without saying that while cooperating with the United States and the ROK, we will call on China and Russia to apply pressure on North Korea. In the recent Japan-U.S. summit meeting, the leaders agreed that China must play a greater role. In any case, during the G20 Summit, needless to say we will call on the countries to play a larger role during the meeting between the Prime Minister and President Putin, and if realized during the meeting between the Prime Minister and President Xi Jinping.

REPORTER: While your view is that the missile launched yesterday is highly likely an ICBM, on what basis have you arrived at this view? For example, have you analyzed the maximum flight range of the missile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, taking into account factors such as the flight altitude and range of the recently launched ballistic missile, as it highly likely had a maximum range exceeding 5,500 kilometers, we consider the missile to be an ICBM.

REPORTER: While you consider the missile to be an ICBM, is it your analysis that technology has been developed to achieve atmospheric reentry?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yesterday, North Korea announced that it succeeded in the test launch of its "Mars 14" model intercontinental ballistic rocket. In any case, Japan is currently carrying out analysis, and will continue cooperating with the United States, the ROK and other relevant countries to gather information and carry out analysis.

REPORTER: While it is also related to atmospheric reentry technology, at this time what does the Government think of recovering the wreckage of the warhead?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is needless to say considering recovering the warhead, but we would like to take the appropriate response upon considering various circumstances including its landing point.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Government of Japan perceives that the missile could very well be an ICBM. If we assume that North Korea possesses an ICBM, I believe a point at issue will be what kind of an impact it will have on the deterrence capability of the United States. What is the view of the Government in this regard?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the current stage, we are gathering information and also carrying out analysis.

REPORTER: You have indicated the intention to increase deterrence capability, response capability, and Japan’s defensive capabilities going forward, but what is the status with regard to the scheduling of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee meeting (2+2 meeting)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is still being arranged at the present time.

REPORTER: One final question. In previous press conferences you have indicated your expectation for China and Russia to leverage their influence with North Korea. At the China-Russia summit meeting, the idea was expressed that U.S.-ROK large-scale military exercises be ceased in exchange for the cessation of North Korea’s missile development program. What is your opinion regarding this China-Russia position?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is the thinking of China and Russia, but what is practically necessary now is to stop the provocative acts of North Korea.

REPORTER: One final question. In terms of stopping provocative acts, do you not think that this measure China and Russia seek to take will be ineffective?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As China and Russia have agreed to the UN Security Council resolutions, I believe it is most important that the two countries apply sanction pressure as soon as possible in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

REPORTER: Even if the ICBM can travel 5,500 kilometers, I believe there is a big difference between reaching no further than Alaska and being able to target major cities on the west coast of the United States. What is your perception? Do you believe North Korea is not capable of striking the major cities on the west coast?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making a comment on the details. It is a matter of national security.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have stated that the missile launched yesterday has a high chance of being an ICBM. Based on the recent missile launch, does the Government perceive the threat posed by North Korea has reached a new level?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have been stating from before, the issue of North Korea is the subject of maximum surveillance of Japan. We are carrying out a wide range of information gathering and analysis, and are fully prepared for all situations. This has not changed at all.

REPORTER: In response to the recent ICBM test launch, does the Government intend to speed up its review and enhancement of Japan’s missile defense system?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The greatest responsibility of the Government is to ensure the safety and security of the people. Since last year we have constantly and continuously followed the situation and firmly carried out the necessary measures.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to North Korea. If North Korea deploys a combat-ready ICBM which can reach the United States, concerns may arise as to whether the United States will sacrifice its own people in order to fully protect an ally. Please share the Government’s response to these concerns.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Even in the recent Japan-U.S. summit (telephone) talks, there was agreement that Japan and the United States should jointly take firm measures in response to the threat of North Korea, as well as Japan, the United States, and the ROK. We also view that China has a great deal of influence. I believe there is a great deal of trust between our countries as allies.

 (Abridged)

REPORTER: The Minister of Defense of the ROK has pointed out the possibility that North Korea would conduct an additional nuclear test. Has information been shared on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Information is being communicated closely between Japan and the United States as well as among Japan, the United States, and the ROK. In this manner, the Government has arrangements in place to protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people from the provocative acts of North Korea.

REPORTER: Does that mean you have some detailed information regarding the next nuclear test and that you are carrying out some kind of response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Disclosing matters of national security to the public would inform the other side of such matters, and on the basis of protecting the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people we would like to firmly refrain from doing so. We are taking all possible measures by closely cooperating, gathering information, carrying out analysis, and taking countermeasures with our partners. We consider that to be the greatest responsibility of the Government.


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