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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 10, 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 have a question about developments in North Korea. North Korea has announced that it plans to simultaneously launch four ballistic missiles that will fly over Japan and fall in the vicinity of Guam. What is the Government’s response to this announcement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, this and other acts by North Korea are clearly acts of provocation against the security of the region, including Japan, and the international community, and they are entirely unacceptable. Japan strongly urges North Korea to sincerely heed the repeated strong warnings and condemnation of the international community, to comply fully with the series of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, including the most recent resolution, and to refrain from engaging in any further acts of provocation. At the same time, it is important to further enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and Japan will continue to advance cooperation with the United States, including on security-related matters. Japan and the United States have confirmed that we will take concrete actions to enhance our defense structure and capacity, and we intend to continue to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, utilizing the forum of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (“2+2” meeting) that is scheduled for August 17. Japan is maintaining an elevated vigilance and surveillance structure to protect the lives and property of its people and will make every effort to secure the peace and safety of the nation and ensure that we are prepared to respond to any situation, with a due sense of urgency.

REPORTER: On this occasion North Korea has released a specific flight plan for the missile launches, detailing the route that the missiles will take, which has not happened previously. What is the Government’s analysis of whether North Korea will actually implement the plan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly collecting and analyzing information regarding the activities of North Korea with the greatest concern. However, due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting in detail.

REPORTER: Following this announcement by North Korea is it likely that the level of alert will be raised?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already mentioned, the Government is constantly collecting and analyzing information regarding the activities of North Korea with the greatest concern. We have a comprehensive surveillance and monitoring structure in place and are taking all measures to be able to respond to any situation.

REPORTER: I have a related question which was also asked previously in the Diet. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems are not currently deployed in the Shikoku and Chugoku regions, which are not covered by PAC-3. Is the Government considering the concentrated deployment of PAC-3 in these regions by relocating systems from other regions in the vicinity?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have previously stated, the greatest responsibility of the Government is to take all measures to protect the lives and properties of the people of Japan in any scenario. The Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have the necessary structures in place, but I would like to refrain from discussing detailed response measures.

REPORTER: North Korea has given notice about its plans to launch missiles towards the vicinity of Guam, and as this is a time of year when many Japanese tourists are in Guam it is causing concern for some people. Could I ask what measures the Government will take to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in the event of a contingency situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We recognize that the protection of Japanese nationals overseas is the most important duty of the Government. The Government is constantly considering various scenarios, making preparations and reviewing them in the event that the protection or evacuation of Japanese nationals overseas should become necessary, including the provision of information, confirmation of their safety and means of transportation.

REPORTER: President Trump has used Twitter to warn North Korea not to make any more threats and that if it does it will be met with fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen before. This comment has spurred protests that it would needlessly provoke North Korea and heighten military tensions, and that the President should refrain from making such statements. What is the Government’s view of the comments made by President Trump?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware that President Trump made such a statement and Secretary of State Tillerson also made a different statement. In any event, against a backdrop of an extremely severe regional security environment, it is of the utmost importance to ensure U.S. deterrence capability. From that perspective, the Government welcomes President Trump’s previously stated stance that all options are on the table. It is extremely important to further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

REPORTER: With tensions rising between the United States and North Korea, does the Government consider it possible that the United States will engage in military action?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan is working closely with the United States and making every effort to ensure the safety and peace of mind of the people of Japan. We intend to continue to firmly enhance the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, utilizing such opportunities as the “2+2” meeting that is scheduled for August 17.

REPORTER: Yesterday, the Nagasaki Peace Declaration 2017 was issued. Mr. Koichi Kawano, the chairperson of Nagasaki Prefecture Peace Movement Center’s Liaison Council of Atomic Bombing Survivors was also present and he severely criticized the Government, which will not participate in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, expressing the view that the areas that suffered the effects of the atomic bombings in Japan could not understand the Government’s position and asking which country the Government represented and whether it has forgotten the atomic bombing survivors. What is your reaction to the views of atomic bombing survivors about the actions being taken by the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In his comments the other day Prime Minister Abe noted that widening differences between nuclear and non-nuclear states must not be allowed to make the realization of a “world free of nuclear weapons” a more distant hope. The Prime Minister stated that a realistic approach is necessary, whereby efforts are made to steadily advance along the path towards the ideal of “a world free of nuclear weapons.”

REPORTER: From the perspective of atomic bombing survivors, the Government should not only posture loudly about the threat of missiles, but also not be part of the group possessing nuclear weapons and take an active lead towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. However, the current Government is lacking such a proactive stance from their view. What is your view of such opinions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think that is the case. The Prime Minister’s position is as I have just explained.

REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, concerning grave visits in the Northern Territories. According to some press reports, arrangements are being made with a view to implementing a grave visit on September 23, when former island residents will travel to the Four Northern Islands by airplane. Could you tell us about the facts behind these reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to special grave visits using airplanes to the Four Northern Islands, the two leaders agreed to coordinate in order to realize a special grave visit at an appropriate time in September in the recent Japan-Russia summit meeting held in July at the G20 Hamburg summit. I have received a report that arrangements are still being made about the specific schedule for the visit. Special grave visits by airplane are significant as a specific means to reduce the burden on former island residents and we will continue to work on coordinating the visit, based on their wishes.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I have a question about the large earthquake that struck Sichuan Province in China on August 8. Foreign Minister Kono has sent a message of condolence to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, noting that Japan stands ready to provide any assistance required. Could you tell us if the Government of Japan is currently considering the implementation of any assistance in response to this earthquake?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government of Japan has informed the Chinese authorities that if necessary we can respond immediately in providing emergency relief goods and humanitarian assistance and that if needed they should inform us.

REPORTER: I have a question about Osprey aircraft. On August 9, the Commanding General of Marine Forces Japan announced that the safety of Osprey aircraft had been confirmed and that they will continue to fly. This announcement comes after the Government of Japan requested the United States to refrain from flying Osprey aircraft in Japan. Can I ask for a comment from the Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, it is a fact that the Ministry of Defense issued a request to the U.S. side to refrain from flights and in its recent announcement the U.S. side expressed determination to ensure safety. The Ministry of Defense is currently confirming various details with the U.S. side, including the facts surrounding the accident and the assessment of the accident. I would therefore like to refrain from commenting on individual aspects of the announcement made by the U.S. side. In any event, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the cause of the accident is thoroughly analyzed and assessed in order to prevent any reoccurrence.

REPORTER: From today the United States and Japan will be conducting joint exercises in Hokkaido. Could you confirm the status of coordination concerning whether Osprey aircraft will participate in these exercises?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Ministry of Defense has requested the U.S. side to refrain from operating flights and I have received a report that on that basis coordination is still ongoing concerning the participation of Osprey aircraft in the exercises. In any event, it is extremely important to pay maximum attention to safety aspects.

REPORTER: The exercises in Hokkaido will start today, so can you confirm that Osprey aircraft will not be participating in today’s exercises?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government has strongly requested the U.S. side to refrain from flying the Osprey aircraft.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to return to the topic of the Osprey aircraft. Against a backdrop of rising tensions with North Korea the United States is emphasizing that Osprey aircraft are operationally necessary in order to ensure the response and deterrence capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. What is the evaluation of the Government of Japan about this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Safety is the top priority for Japan and the United States as we continue to cooperate closely and therefore the Government has requested the U.S. side to refrain from flight operations while the cause of the recent accident is being thoroughly investigated.

(Abridged)

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