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Cabinet Decisions and Other Announcements

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (After the First Security Council Meeting on the Launch by North Korea)

Friday, April 13, 2012

(Provisional translation)

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura


Regarding the launch of some kind of flying object by North Korea, we convened the Security Council from 8:45 to 9:05 am.  At the Council, Minister of Defense reported that we received the SEW (Satellite Early Warning of the U.S. ) information indicating that some kind of flying object was launched from North Korea at approximately 7:40 am. Taking into account the various information we gathered, it is highly likely that the flying object by North Korea is the missile which North Korea calls a "satellite."

We conducted the confirmation process using various possible means, and it is assumed that there were no impacts caused by the fallen objects on the territory of Japan at all. Therefore, we would like to ask our citizen to continue on with their normal lives and activities as usual.

At the Council, the Prime Minister issued the following three points of instruction:

(1) Continue to conduct further information gathering by the ministries and agencies concerned with a sense of urgency,
(2) Make every effort to provide the public with the relevant information,
(3) Continue to strengthen collaboration with the countries concerned.

Even if this launch of a missile, which North Korea calls a "satellite" is found to be a failure, North Korea dared to implement it, in spite of the facts that the relevant countries including Japan have strongly urged North Korea to exercise restraint over the launch. The launch per se is a grave provocation from the Japanese security point of view, and is also a violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1695, 1718 and 1874. It is extremely regrettable, and the Government has strongly protested against North Korea through our diplomatic channels.

At any rate, the Government is now fully engaged in the information gathering in cooperation with the United States, ROK, China, and Russia, and relevant international organizations. The Government will make announcements as additional information is obtained which should be shared with the public.

The Government will reconvene the Security Council meeting at approximately 11:00 today.


REPORTER: At what time did the Japanese Government confirm the launch of the missile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First of all, the Minister of Defense reported that we received the SEW (Satellite Early Warning of the U.S. ) information indicating that some kind of flying object was launched from North Korea at approximately 7:40 am. After that, in line with the initial response policy, we made efforts to confirm the launch using various means, seeking to rely not only on one information source, but to implement a further double check.


REPORTER: Initially at 7:42am, when the facsimile was sent, it was originally envisaged that the Japanese Government would provide information to the public to the effect that the missile had been launched, sending out the information upon receiving it. Why was the information suggesting that the missile had been launched not provided to the public once the Government received the information?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: From our experience three years ago, there are times when relying on one source of information can lead to mistaken information being received, particularly with regard to SEW information. Therefore, on this occasion, the response policy was to definitely confirm the situation by implementing a double check. Once information was received that some kind of flying object had been launched, the Japanese Government sought to engage in further confirmation using all possible other means, including radar. Although further final confirmation by another means has not yet been made in a comprehensive way, information that has been subsequently received suggests that at the current point there is an extremely high possibility that the flying object was the missile.


REPORTER: At 8:03am, information was issued via Em-Net (Emergency Information Network) that "Japan has not confirmed the situation." Why was it not the case that the information that was confirmed at 7:40am was not notified to the public?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The information received at 7:40am was from one source, the SEW information. As there was a possibility that the information was mistaken, the Government continued to seek other means of confirmation. That was the situation at the time.


REPORTER: What about the verification on the use of the J-ALERT system? As it was understood after about ten minutes that the missile would not enter Japanese territory, unless the information was relayed via J-ALERT at the time of the launch then wouldn't the system itself be meaningless?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: After the launch, within the space of a few minutes the missile disappeared from the radar, and it could be said that at that point it was confirmed that it would not enter Japanese air space.


REPORTER: At the very least, when did the Japanese Government receive information from the United States Government that the missile had been launched?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: (Abridged) First of all, the Ministry of Defense received SEW information at 7:40am. Then at approximately 7:50am information was received that it had been "lost" from U.S. radar. There was various information forthcoming from the U.S. side thereafter, and their assertion was that at 7:50am the missile had been "lost" from radar. The Government had similar information that the missile was lost, received from U.S. forces.

REPORTER: Do you not consider that the information that the missile had been lost from radar, as confirmed by U.S. forces should have been passed on to the public by the Government of Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government of Japan was working on the premise that the SEW information could be mistaken, and therefore a response policy was in place that called for a further check by the Japanese side.


REPORTER: By saying that there was a possibility the SEW information was mistaken, are you implying that the Japanese Government does not consider the SEW information provided by U.S. forces to be credible?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: No, what I am saying is that to date there have been cases in which information has been mistaken and the response policy of the Government was that it was necessary to implement thorough confirmation.


REPORTER: At the current point do you consider that there were flaws in the initial response?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I would like to slightly revise my statement from previously. Firstly, it was the case that the Ministry of Defense also considered initially that a short-range missile had possibly been launched, but it was also noted that a burn test would also be detected by SEW. Therefore it was the case that the process of confirmation took some time, as it was necessary to ascertain whether it was only a burn test, or whether it was the launch of the missile, which North Korea was calling a "satellite."


REPORTER: Regardless of whether it was a failure or not, the fact is that North Korea conducted the launch. You have recently stated that the Japanese Government has issued a protest against North Korea. It is also the case that today an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council will be held. What will Japan's stance be at that meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I recently stated, the launch represents an act that is the clear violationof three United Nations Security Council resolutions and is extremely regrettable. The Japanese Government has issued a strong protest against  North Korea through diplomatic channels, and in the meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which will probably be held tomorrow, although Japan is not currently a member of the Security Council, it will urge other countries concerned to make a response.


REPORTER: Will Japan be considering new sanctions of its own against North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: That will be something to be considered in the second Security Council meeting and thereafter.


REPORTER: Final confirmation is being implemented that the launch by North Korea at this time was a failure. However, given this launch, what is the Government's analysis of the likelihood that North Korea will embark upon new actions, including a new missile launch or a nuclear test?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This was something that was also discussed at the first Security Council meeting, and opinions have already been exchanged about the necessity to adequately monitor the situation and gather information concerning what impact this failed launch will have on the domestic state of affairs in North Korea. Going forward, the Government will therefore continue the requisite information gathering activities.


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