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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Friday, March 16, 2012 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: A spokesperson for North Korea has announced that a working satellite has been launched. What is the Government's current analysis of this information?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: With regard to the facts of the matter, Korean Central Broadcasting Station has announced that North Korea will be launching a satellite. In response to this announcement by North Korea, I have given instructions for the Government to maintain close contact with related countries on this issue and for the relevant ministries and agencies to make every effort to cooperate in information gathering. A liaison office has been established for this purpose within the Crisis Management Center of the Prime Minister's Office. In addition, a meeting of director general-level offices from the relevant ministries and agencies, headed by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management was held through which my instructions were thoroughly shared and efforts are made for information to be supplied and shared in a unified manner. From the perspective of securing peace and safety of Japan and the safety and peace of mind of the Japanese people, the Government will make a full response to this issue, continuing to maintain close contact with related countries and working on information gathering and analysis concerning this matter through cooperation among the relevant ministries and agencies.

REPORTER: In the past North Korea has announced the launch of a working satellite only to actually launch a ballistic missile. Is your response to the current announcement based on the view that there is a possibility on this occasion also that the announcement of a satellite launch could in fact be a ballistic missile launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The launching of either a satellite or a ballistic missile by North Korea would in either case be in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, which prohibit any launch by North Korea using ballistic missile technology, and therefore North Korea would be in violation of these UN Security Council resolutions. We are also concerned that such a launch could undermine the efforts to solve the outstanding issues through dialogue. The Government of Japan therefore will strongly urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint and not to conduct the launch.


REPORTER: You have just stated that the situation in North Korea could create problems for dialogue-based resolution of various issues. Given the fact that there has been recent progress in talks between the United States and North Korea, what kind of impact do you think these latest moves by North Korea would have on the talks process, including food aid?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Government will make every effort to maintain close contact with countries concerned, including the United States and Republic of Korea, and carefully monitor the situation, making a calm and appropriate response. Also with regard to relations between the United States and North Korea, I do not believe that any snap decisions will be made, and Japan will continue to engage in cooperation with the United States and Republic of Korea.

REPORTER: On a different subject, relating to a question I asked in this morning's press conference concerning the movements of a Chinese hydrographic survey vessel in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands, according to some media reports this vessel has actually entered Japanese waters. What is the Government's current understanding of the situation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The situation since the press conference held this morning is as follows. From 9:38am to 10:03am this morning the China Marine Surveillance Ship "Haijian 50" temporarily entered Japanese territorial waters as it sailed along the territorial line. At 10:40am the response structure to the situation was upgraded at the liaison office in the Prime Minister's Office and at 2:15pm Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs summoned Mr. Cheng Yonghua, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Japan, to lodge a strong protest on behalf of the Government. I believe that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement on this issue. The latest situation is that "Haijian 50" left the waters of the contiguous zone at 2:30pm, followed by "Haijian 66" at 2:41pm, and both vessels are now sailing north. 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. Indeed, the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan. The Prime Minister's Office will continue to maintain close contact and cooperation with the relevant ministries and agencies and will continue to implement precautionary surveillance activities.


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