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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 11, 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]

Q&As

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to the Senkaku Islands. Today is the 5th anniversary of the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands. One could say, however, that the intrusion into Japan’s territorial waters by Chinese government vessels has become a normal occurrence. In addition to Chinese coast guard vessels entering the contiguous zone yesterday, this morning a vessel also entered the contiguous zone. Please share once more how the Government intends to prevent these intrusions into territorial waters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, there is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are clearly an inherent territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law. The islands are currently under the valid control of Japan. There exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved concerning the Senkaku Islands. Since September 2012, Chinese vessels have continuously intruded into Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands. This is highly regrettable and cannot be accepted by Japan under any circumstances. We are making strong protests through diplomatic channels. The Government will continue to maintain close cooperation among the relevant ministries, and resolutely protect Japan’s territorial land, waters and airspace. We will make a firm and calm response on that basis.

REPORTER: The Japan Coast Guard has been carrying out initiatives to strengthen surveillance, such as establishing a dedicated system for the Senkaku Islands in the previous fiscal year. Do you believe the Government’s response has been effective?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is not a matter of it being effective or ineffective. The relevant ministries will work closely together to resolutely protect Japan’s territorial land, waters and airspace. Japan will respond with that in mind.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the potential of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack by North Korea. In this morning’s press conference, you stated that a meeting on response measures was held among related ministries. Could you please share some of the discussions from the meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on the specific contents of the meeting.

REPORTER: In this meeting, what do you think will be the primary points of discussion?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In the event that an EMP attack were to actually be made, in preparation for such unlikely circumstances, we will minimize the impact on the daily lives of the people as much as possible. In that context, led by the Office of Situations Response and Crisis Management in the Cabinet Secretariat, ministries with jurisdiction over critical infrastructure will participate, such as the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The Government will work as one to prepare for this unlikely scenario, with each ministry firmly fulfilling its respective role. Based on the nature of the situation, however, I would like to refrain from making a comment as it would reveal the Government’s strategy.

REPORTER: If I may repeat a previous question, Defense Minister Onodera expressed doubt regarding the viability of North Korea’s EMP attack. Will the question of whether or not North Korea has developed a viable EMP device also be discussed?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It goes without saying that it is extremely important for the Government to prepare for unlikely scenarios. In any case we will firmly respond on that point. Regarding the statement by Defense Minister Onodera, I understand that he made the said statement in light of the fact that North Korea’s declaration about an EMP attack seemed exceedingly abrupt.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution against North Korea. There have been some press reports stating that a proposal has been made to seek an annual cap on oil imports instead of a complete embargo to the draft resolution. What is the Government’s understanding of the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, active discussions are currently taking place among UNSC members. As the details of the draft resolution, the specifics regarding the way forward, and each members’ position are currently still under discussion, I would like to refrain from commenting.

REPORTER: I think the negotiations on the draft resolution are likely reaching their final stage. Even if agreement on a complete oil import embargo is not reached as per the initial proposed sanctions, does the Government still consider the swift implementation of the contents of a sanction that can be agreed upon by the entire international community, including China and Russia, to be critical?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As your question concerns a hypothetical scenario and the matter remains under discussion, I do not believe I should provide an answer. In any case, however, Japan believes it is important to adopt an extremely strict resolution against North Korea. That is all.

REPORTER: I would like to ask about the Osprey accident which occurred in the waters off Nago City last year. An official report was just published and it contained points that differed from the initial explanation by the U.S. side. For example, the site of the crash was said to be within the training grounds, but the report made clear that the crash actually occurred in the waters off Yoronjima Island. How do you perceive the fact that the current explanation differs from the initial explanation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: From the very beginning, it was said that an official announcement would be made only after the final arrangements were made. However, at that time, it was noted that a situation like this one may occur. Therefore no conclusions were drawn at the time and it was decided that an official announcement would be made after a thorough investigation was conducted. I believe there is absolutely nothing unusual about this.

REPORTER: I believe it is a fact that Osprey operations were restarted based on the contents of the initial explanation. Does the Government still consider there to be no issue with the timing of restarting Osprey operations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Within the Government, it was a precondition that there were no problems with the Osprey aircraft itself, and the accident was considered to be the result of an error on the part of the pilot during a refueling exercise in difficult weather conditions. Therefore I do not consider it to be a problem.

REPORTER: In short, is it correct to understand that the Government of Japan will not make any renewed protest to the U.S. side regarding the points of difference between the recent report and the initial explanation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding the points that differed from the initial explanation, these have been re-announced based on a complete investigation. I believe it is conceivable that such differences could arise as a result of the investigation.

(Abridged)

REPORTER: Related to the issue of North Korea, I believe the chairpersons of the prefectural assemblies of Hokkaido and the six prefectures of Tohoku just came to you with an emergency request. How did you respond to that request?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, I met with a delegation consisting of the chairpersons of the prefectural assemblies of Hokkaido and the six prefectures of Tohoku, chaired by the chairperson of the prefectural assembly of Akita. Regarding the fact that North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew through the airspace of Hokkaido and conducted its sixth nuclear test, the chair of the delegation requested that the central government take all necessary measures in response to North Korea, in cooperation with the international community, and furthermore implement a wide range of countermeasures to protect the people and ensure their safety and peace of mind. I explained that protecting the lives, properties and peaceful daily lives of the people is the most important duty of the Government. Therefore the Government is doing everything it can to address the situation, and that the Coast Guard and the Self-Defense Forces have taken all necessary preparations and will be on-site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

REPORTER: According to the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), the gas expelled by the solar flare which occurred at midnight on the 11 September will reach the vicinity of Earth in the early hours on 12 September. The public is currently highly interested in this matter. Could you please confirm that no particular impact was seen from the solar flare which occurred on 6 September? Also, while I believe the recent solar flare was of a smaller scale to the one that occurred on 6 September, could you please share the Government’s response.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding the impact of the solar flare on 6 September, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, there have been no reports of practical issues arising. Furthermore, as a result of monitoring by NICT, from the evening of 8 September, the number of high-energy particles began decreasing, suggesting a reduction in the impact on the Earth. Furthermore, on 11 September, another solar flare occurred. This latest solar flare is said to be of a much smaller scale than the previous solar flare. Currently, NICT is investigating the impact on the Earth. We will continue gathering the necessary information.

REPORTER: I have a question related to North Korea. On 5 September, President Trump posted on Twitter that he will allow Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States. Currently, looking at the budgetary request for the next fiscal year, there has been a massive increase in the amount to be used for the purchase of sophisticated military equipment from the United States through foreign military sales. What are the Government’s current thoughts about the fact that U.S. military equipment represents a major budgetary burden?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s fundamental stance is to take the necessary measures to protect the lives and properties of the people.


 

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