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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

August 29, 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
It appears that at about 5:58 a.m. this morning, North Korea launched a ballistic missile in a north-easterly direction from the west coast of North Korea. This missile is believed to have flown over the Oshima Peninsula and Cape Erimo of Hokkaido Prefecture, after which it fell into the Pacific Ocean approximately 1,180 kilometers east of Japan. At this point in time no fallen objects have been confirmed on Japanese territory or in the vicinity. There have also been no reported damage to aircraft or vessels. No destruction measures were implemented by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in response to this launch. The Government of Japan is continuing to confirm whether any objects have fallen in or around Japan, through the relevant agencies concerned. This ballistic missile launch by North Korea poses an unprecedented, grave and serious threat to the security of Japan and significantly undermines the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region. That a ballistic missile was launched and landed in the Pacific Ocean without any advance notice is an extremely problematic act from the standpoint of ensuring the security of aircraft and vessels. In addition, at around 7:08 a.m. this morning a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) was convened, at which information was consolidated and consultations took place on Japan’s response. The NSC meeting also reconfirmed the six-point instructions already issued by the Prime Minister and confirmed that Japan will continue to make a resolute response, further enhancing cooperation and collaboration with the international community and calling strongly on North Korea to exercise self-restraint, as well as seeking a further response in the forum of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The Government immediately issued a serious protest against North Korea through "the embassy channel" in Beijing, firmly condemning this latest launch in the strongest possible terms. The Government has also requested that an emergency meeting of the UNSC be convened. Furthermore, the NSC meeting that was just held confirmed a Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary on North Korea’s Missile Launch, which has been distributed to you. In any event, the Government will continue to make every effort to collect and analyze information and provide the latest information to the people of Japan. We will continue to work closely with the relevant countries including the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and work tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan with a sense of urgency. We ask our citizens to remain calm and continue on with their daily lives and activities as usual.

Q&As

REPORTER: What is the status of analysis concerning the type of missile launched, as well as the altitude it attained and the length of its flightpath?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is estimated that the missile flew for approximately 2,700 kilometers, reaching a maximum altitude of approximately 550 kilometers. There is also a possibility that the missile that was launched split into three parts over the Sea of Japan, but the details are still being analyzed. Other details concerning the type of missile that was launched are also still being analyzed.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Is it the Government’s view that this could have been an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted, details about the type of missile launched are still being analyzed.

REPORTER: This missile flew over Japan, further raising the level of threat, so what is the Government’s view about the possibility that the United States will respond with military action?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are responding continuously in close coordination with the relevant countries, mainly the United States and also among Japan, the United States and the ROK. Japan highly values the United States’ stance of leaving all options on the table. I would like to refrain from making any speculative comments about future actions by the United States.

REPORTER: Will the Government be holding telephone talks with President Trump of the United States and President Moon of the ROK to consider a response to this launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Nothing has been decided at the current point.

REPORTER: What is the Government’s analysis of North Korea’s intentions in choosing to launch a missile in a direction that passed over Cape Erimo, rather than directing it in the vicinity of Guam, about which North Korea had previously warned?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making any conclusive response about the aims and intentions of North Korea’s ballistic missile launch. In any event, the Government will continue to work closely with the United States, the ROK and other countries concerned in responding to military actions by North Korea, including such ballistic missile launches. We are making every endeavor to collect and analyze information with the greatest concern and are making all possible efforts to ensure the peace and safety of the nation.

REPORTER: Given that North Korea continues to repeatedly engage in missile launches, does the Government believe that current measures to strengthen pressure on North Korea will be able to achieve a breakthrough in the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, the Government continues to steadily engage in close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation and also work closely with countries such as China and Russia to ensure the full implementation of relevant UNSC resolutions. This most recent launch in particular is an excessive act of provocation that disregards the repeated warnings from the international community and is totally unacceptable. The Government considers it to be necessary to cooperate with countries concerned to strengthen pressure on North Korea to get the country to cease its provocative acts and engage in concrete measures that will lead to denuclearization. In the recent Japan-U.S. and Japan-ROK summit telephone talks it was also confirmed that it is meaningless to have dialogue with North Korea for the sake of dialogue and now is the time to apply pressure.

REPORTER: You have already mentioned China and Russia, which have influence on North Korea, and in particular there are expectations for China to approach North Korea, given the strong economic influence it possesses. Is it the Government’s view that China is currently living up to such expectations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have noted, the roles of China and Russia, which are also members of the Six-Party Talks process, are extremely important. China’s role is of particular importance, given that it accounts for approximately 90% of North Korea’s trade. Japan has continued to call on both China and Russia at various levels to play a responsible and constructive role. Specifically, we are calling on the two countries to urge North Korea to comply with recently adopted UNSC resolutions. In Japan-China and Japan-Russia foreign ministers’ meetings held on August 7, it was also confirmed that Japan will work closely with both countries in responding to North Korea. We will continue to further call on countries like China and Russia to play a constructive role.

REPORTER: Given that the latest missile has flown over Japan it is likely that public concerns will grow. How will the Government work to allay such concerns among the people of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the Prime Minister stated in his recent press occasion, based on confirmed information relating to this latest launch we are responding fully to the situation and are continuously making every effort to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan under an advanced surveillance and monitoring structure.

REPORTER: You noted that destruction measures were not implemented in response to this latest launch. Can I confirm that based on the Self-Defense Forces Act orders for destruction measures are continually in force and that they were in force today as well?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on orders for destruction measures. What I would state here is that the Government is endeavoring to respond fully to the situation to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: Could you tell us why destruction measures were not implemented on this occasion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: All decisions will be made, taking the safety and security of the public into comprehensive consideration.

REPORTER: It has been noted that if the missile had fallen in Hokkaido it would have caused great damage and the people of Hokkaido are greatly concerned. The deployment of PAC-3 systems is currently concentrated in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions. Do you think the Government could have responded adequately if the missile were to have fallen in Hokkaido?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Ministry of Defense always makes the required response, taking all matters into consideration.

REPORTER: You noted that there is a possibility that the missile split into three parts, so did all these parts fall in the same location?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from commenting on the details, including the matter you have just mentioned.

REPORTER: In his recent press occasion the Prime Minister stated that the Government was fully aware of the situation since the immediate aftermath of the missile launch. You have just expressed the view that the concerns of the people of Japan need to be allayed. So were the Prime Minister’s comments for such a purpose?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is the Government’s greatest responsibility to protect the safety and security of the people of Japan. We are therefore continuously making all possible efforts, under an advanced surveillance and monitoring structure, to protect the safety and security of the people. I believe that is what the Prime Minister was referring to in his comments.

REPORTER: Are we to understand that if the Government was fully aware of the situation since the immediate aftermath of the missile launch, this information was obtained independently of information from the United States or the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The three countries of Japan, the United States, and the ROK are constantly engaged in close cooperation, but I would like to refrain from going into detail.

REPORTER: Analysis also suggests that North Korea has completed preparations for a nuclear test, so what is the status of the Government’s analysis on this point and what will be the response in such an event?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted a number of times, we are continuously implementing an advanced surveillance and monitoring structure and are constantly engaged in the collection and analysis of information. However, I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.

REPORTER: In a press conference a short while ago Foreign Minister Kono suggested that North Korea may have backed down a little in response to the United States by launching the missile over Hokkaido rather than in the direction of Guam, which it had previously announced it was planning to do. What is your view on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are engaged in the collection and analysis of information, but I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.

REPORTER: U.S.-ROK joint military exercises are due to conclude soon and September 9 will mark the anniversary of the founding of North Korea. Under such circumstances, there are indications that North Korea has completed preparations for a weapons test as was mentioned earlier. What measures does the Government of Japan consider should be prioritized to deter any new provocative actions by North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on the recognition that now is the time to apply pressure, not to engage in dialogue, it is important to respond by working closely with the United States and the ROK and countries that have influence on North Korea, such as China and Russia.

REPORTER: Given that the threat level has increased, is the Government currently giving consideration to issuing an evacuation advisory to Japanese nationals residing in or visiting the ROK, which is a neighboring country of North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are not considering such a response.
 

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