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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, December 19, 2011 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: (Following the passing away of Secretary General Kim Jong-Il) Prime Minister Noda and Republic of Korea (ROK) President Lee Myung-bak held telephone talks today. What was the content of their talks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Starting at 2:50pm and for about 10 minutes Prime Minister Noda and ROK President Lee Myung-bak held Japan-ROK summit telephone talks. President Lee emphasized the importance of closely watching the situation in the bilateral context between Japan and the ROK as well as in the trilateral context among Japan, the ROK, and the United States, and conducting close cooperation among the three countries. President Lee mentioned that he had just made the same confirmation with US President Barack Obama. Prime Minister Noda confirmed the importance of close cooperation between Japan, the ROK, and the United States, and then confirmed that Japan would cooperate closely and share intelligence with the ROK, the United States, and others moving forward, explaining the three instructions he had issued at the National Security Council meeting held earlier that day. Also, with the United States, on December 19 (United States time) Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba will meet with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This will be a Japan-United States Foreign Ministerial Meeting, and I believe that this issue (on North Korea) will account for the bulk of their discussion. Before that, around noon, Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki met with Mr. Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, based on an instruction given by Minister Gemba in order to ensure close cooperation with regard to sharing intelligence and so on.

REPORTER: Was there any talk between President Lee and Prime Minister Noda about working to resolve the abduction issue in particular?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: There was no discussion of the abduction issue during the telephone talks.

REPORTER: The Government-Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) senior officials' meeting was held earlier today. Was there any information from the ruling parties concerning a response to the North Korean issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government and DPJ discussed the Government's response following 12:00pm, including the holding of a meeting of the National Security Council and two other meetings. I just provided a report on the current situation. The ruling parties did not have requests; they simply expressed their understanding of the situation and asked that it be handled in a careful manner.


REPORTER: The announcement by North Korea took place at noon today, but there is some criticism from opposition parties over doubts that the administration was prepared to conduct information gathering activities and respond to a potential change in North Korea, as directly before 12:00pm Prime Minister Noda left to give a stump speech. How does the Government view this criticism?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Of course the Prime Minister and myself were aware beforehand that there was going to be a special broadcast, and that the broadcast would be at noon. Initially, the Prime Minister was scheduled to hold a stump speech in Shimbashi at 12:15pm, so he actually left his office at 11:59am and ordered that everyone remain meticulously vigilant and that we notify him if necessary based on the content of the broadcast. The Prime Minister was first notified of the issue when in the car on the way. He was told by one of the Executive Secretaries to the Prime Minister that had listened to the content of the Radio Press. I also received phone call on this immediately thereafter. The Prime Minister returned to his office at 12:09pm. As such we were always prepared.


REPORTER: With regard to the abduction issue, Japan has demanded that North Korea abide by the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, and that a reexamination be conducted of abduction victims. Does the Japanese Government intend to request that these efforts be continued?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: There has been no change in the status of this situation, however there is a good possibility that the Headquarters for the Abduction Issue will thoroughly reconsider ways to respond to this issue moving forward. Nevertheless, at the current stage there has been no change.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question in relation to the abduction issue as well. It appears that a request is going to be sent to Minister Kenji Yamaoka later from the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN) and the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN). Please tell us again what impact the Government believes Kim Jong-Il's death will have on the abduction issue.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I do not think that I should make any conjecture regarding what the impact will be at this point in time. My comment at this stage is that we will consult with the Headquarters for the Abduction Issue and the related ministries on an effective means to resolve the issue moving forward while carefully assessing the behavior of North Korea.


REPORTER: Before information on the death of General Secretary Kim Jong-Il was made available to the public, certain news sources reported that North Korea fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan on December 16, which would be one day before his death. Please tell us what the Government knows about this incident.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government exerts effort on a daily basis to gather and analyze intelligence on developments concerning missile and nuclear tests by North Korea. These are issues of great concern. I will refrain from making substantial comments with regard to the details of specific information, but in either case we will continue to work to gather and analyze intelligence on North Korean trends and take all possible measures to ensure a seamless response from the perspective of securing peace and security for Japan and ensuring the safety and peace of mind of the people of Japan.


REPORTER: This is a rather detailed question, but what will be the membership of the Joint Intelligence Council?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I do not have a list of the members here with me, so I would like to ask you to inquire again later. However, I am sure that the membership has been decided.

REPORTER: I asked about this in the emergency press conference as well, but has there been no change in regard to such matters as enhancing the alert level of the Self-Defense Forces?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe that the Ministry of Defense (MOD) has also held a press conference, but I will comment on it briefly as well. First of all, at 12:20pm the Minister of Defense assembled all relevant top officials within the MOD and gave them two orders. First, he ordered that every effort be exerted for intelligence gathering. Second, he ordered that all measures be taken to ensure a scrupulous patrol and surveillance structure. Next, the National Security Council met from 1:00pm, where the three orders that I have already discussed numerous times were given by the Prime Minister. In response to this, the Defense Minister spread the Prime Minister's orders further within MOD amongst the relevant officials, thus further ensuring the thorough implementation of intelligence gathering and vigilance and surveillance operations. MOD and the Self-Defense Forces are in the middle of enhancing their posture for vigilance and surveillance, as well as intelligence gathering operations. Please inquire with MOD for more information. (Reading a memo handed from a secretary) The Joint Intelligence Council is a bureau director-general-level meeting with the membership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, National Police Agency, Public Security Intelligence Agency, Japan Coast Guard, and the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office.

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