Skip to main content

Home >  News >  Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary >  November 2017 >  November 29, 2017 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

November 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 seems that at approximately 3:18 a.m. today, North Korea launched a ballistic missile in an easterly direction from the proximity of its western coast, which fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The details of the launch are currently being analyzed. As of now there have been no confirmed reports of damage to aircraft or vessels in the vicinity. No destruction measures were implemented by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) . This launch of a missile that is believed to have fallen within Japan’s EEZ presents a grave threat to the security of Japan. Furthermore, as no prior warning was given before the missile fell into Japan’s EEZ, the launch is also an extremely problematic and dangerous act from the standpoint of ensuring the security of aircraft and vessels.

At approximately 6:10 a.m. this morning, the National Security Council (NSC) was convened, and discussions were held on information aggregating and Japan’s response. In the NSC meeting, the three items of instruction from the Prime Minister were reconfirmed.  It was also confirmed that the Government will continue to strongly urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint as well as carry out a resolute response including further responses by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), while further strengthening our cooperation and collaboration with the international community.

In addition, in response to today’s ballistic missile launch, the Government immediately lodged a severe protest against North Korea through the Beijing “embassy” channel, condemning North Korea in the strongest terms. These repeated actions are entirely unacceptable, and the Government calls strongly on North Korea to change its policies, as without resolution of the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues, no bright future is possible for North Korea . In addition, we are working with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to request an emergency meeting of the UNSC. In any event, we are making every effort to collect and analyze information, and will disseminate new information to the people. The Government will cooperate closely with relevant countries including the United States and the ROK, and take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the people with a sense of urgency. I would like to ask everyone to remain calm and continue on with their daily lives as usual.

Q&As

REPORTER: Could you tell us whether only one missile was launched and also whether there is a possibility that the missile that was fired split into multiple sections?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, although the details are still being confirmed, in terms of the overall situation, it is thought that one missile was launched in an easterly direction and fell into the Sea of Japan at around 4:11 a.m. within Japan’s EEZ, 250 km west of Aomori Prefecture . The missile is estimated to have flown for approximately 53 minutes, covering a distance of approximately 1,000 km and reaching a maximum altitude above 4,000 km. This is the basic information concerning the launch and the details are currently being analyzed.

REPORTER: This is North Korea’s first missile launch since September 15. What is the Government’s analysis of the aim and objective of the timing of this launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making any conclusive response about the intention and aim 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 movements by North Korea. 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: On November 20 the United States re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism for the first time in nine years. Is the Government seeing that this launch was implemented as a retaliatory measure?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as I have just noted, I would like to refrain from making any conclusive response about the intention and aim of North Korea’s ballistic missile launch. However, North Korea is continuing its development of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-class missiles. Given this situation, the Government’s analysis was that a missile launch could occur at any given time, regardless of the re-designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States.

REPORTER: According to Yonhap News of the ROK, if the missile that was launched today was fired at a conventional trajectory it could have flown more than 10,000 km. This means that there is a possibility that such a missile could reach the East Coast of the United States. Could I ask whether this is also the Government’s view and whether analysis suggests that North Korea has been improving its missile technologies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just noted, the ballistic missile reached a very high altitude far above 4,000 km and flew for a distance of approximately 1,000 km. In view of these figures, the Government considers that there is a possibility that the ballistic missile was ICBM-class. I would like to refrain from going into further details.

REPORTER: Six minutes after the missile was launched by North Korea, the military of the ROK conducted an exercise in which it launched three missiles into the Sea of Japan. What is the Government’s analysis of the current status of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and are any measures for Japanese nationals in the ROK being considered?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, the Government is continuing to work with the United States and the ROK, constantly monitoring actions by North Korea so that we are able to respond to any situation.

REPORTER: You have just stated that there is a possibility that the missile was ICBM-class, while Defense Minister Onodera used a stronger expression noting that the missile should be considered to be ICBM-class. How high a possibility does the Government consider there to be that this was an ICBM-class missile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government’s current analysis is as I have already described. We consider that there is a possibility that North Korea launched an ICBM-class missile. However, the details are currently still being analyzed and I would like to refrain from making a definite response at this time.

REPORTER: In previous missile launches by North Korea the missiles overflew Hokkaido, but on this occasion the missile fell in the Sea of Japan before reaching Japan. What is the Government’s analysis on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The details are currently being analyzed, but the direction in which the missile was fired was basically the same as previously.

REPORTER: What is the Government’s analysis concerning the possibility of further provocative actions by North Korea, including the launching of further missiles?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are maintaining an advanced surveillance and monitoring posture that is capable of responding to any situation and have measures in place to ensure the safety and security of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: Secretary of State Tillerson of the United States is said to have called for a meeting of the United Nations Command Sending States together with Japan and the ROK . What are the facts behind such reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Following this latest launch, Japan is working closely with the United States and the ROK and is engaging in consultations to seek a response from the UNSC. Japan, the United States, and the ROK have already approached Italy, which currently holds the UNSC presidency, for an emergency UNSC meeting to be convened. In any event, Japan will continue to respond firmly, working with the international community, and cooperating with the United States and the ROK, as well as countries such as China and Russia, toward a comprehensive resolution of this issue.

REPORTER: On this occasion the J-ALERT system was not activated. Is there a particular reason why this was the case?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, as it was determined that there was no possibility that the missile would fly over Japan, the J-ALERT system was not used on this occasion.

REPORTER: The press has been briefed that in the recent summit telephone talk between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump, the two leaders shared the view that it is important for China to play a further role. Are there any plans for a Japan-China summit meeting at this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There is no plan for a summit meeting at this point, but in the recent Japan-China summit meeting, it was agreed that China will make further efforts to strengthen its measures against North Korea.  We would like to make further efforts in that direction. Especially, China accounts for approximately 90 percent of North Korea’s total trade volume; the Government recognizes that it has a major role to play.

REPORTER: In the recent Japan-U.S. summit telephone talk, President Trump called for the need to implement further measures and strengthen pressure  on North Korea. Is it correct to understand that Japan and the United States will work together to call on the UNSC to impose further sanctions against North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: That is naturally the direction we will be taking. As I have noted, Japan and the United States have already called on Italy, which currently holds the UNSC presidency, to convene an emergency UNSC meeting. At the current point, however, I would like to refrain from predicting the response of the UNSC. It is the case that we have called for an emergency meeting to be convened.

REPORTER: You have just noted that the J-ALERT system was not triggered because it was judged that the missile would not fly over Japan. Is this also the reason why orders for destruction measures were not issued?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, it is the case that immediately following the launch, the SDF detected and fully tracked the missile until it fell into the sea. Given that the missile was projected to fall into the sea and there was no anticipated damage to Japanese territory, no order for destruction measures was issued. The Government has a comprehensive posture   in place to protect the lives and property of the people of Japan in any situation and the Ministry of Defense and the SDF are also in place to respond, although I would like to avoid going into specific details about our response posture. What I would say is that immediately following the launch, the SDF tracked the missile’s course until it fell into the sea.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the previous point on China. What is the Government’s evaluation of China’s current response to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In both the Japan-China summit meeting and the U.S.-China summit meeting, the leaders were in total agreement on the need to cooperate and also to ensure the complete fulfilment of UNSC resolutions . It is therefore important to further strengthen such efforts.

REPORTER: This is a topic that also came up in the recent press briefing. Could you tell us if  the U.S. mentioned a military option in the recent Japan-U.S. summit telephone talk?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: There were no discussions on that topic.

REPORTER: Is the Government aware of any specific signs that would suggest what actions North Korea will take from now?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have already noted, the Government is monitoring actions by North Korea with the greatest concern, but I would like to refrain from explaining specific details.
 

Page Top

Related Link