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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Monday, December 10, 2012 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • Government's measures in response to North Korea's plan to launch a missile
  • The Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety

REPORTER: What is the Japanese Government's analysis of the current situation regarding North Korea's missile launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The Korean Central News Agency has reported that the spokesperson for the Korean Committee for Space Technology has announced, in relation to the ballistic missile launch scheduled to take place between December 10 and 22, that a series of findings has been made in the process of preparing for the launch, and subsequently scientists and engineers are thoroughly discussing the possibility of altering launch preparations. On the other hand, we understand that the International Maritime Organization's designation of danger for the regions of the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and Luzon Island between 7 am and 12 pm each day from December 10 to 22 due to the North Korean launch of an earth observation satellite, of which Japan was notified on December 3, has, for the time being, not been lifted. Additionally, I have not been informed that the North Korean Authorities have canceled the launch. In any event, the missile launch planned by the North Korean Authorities on this occasion will once again be in conflict with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the Japanese Government will continue to strongly demand the cancellation of the launch. At the same time, the Government has already been taking the necessary measures with vigilance so that we can respond to any unexpected situation.

REPORTER: Am I then right to understand that unless the North Korean Government makes some kind of official announcement, the Japanese Government will maintain its current state of alert?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: We understand that, rather than discussing when to return to a normal state of alert or not, it is more important for now to gather information and analyze the current situation and ensure cooperation between the relevant ministers. Therefore, at this point in time, I cannot make a premature prediction as to when we may return to a normal state of alert. That is all I can say for now.

REPORTER: It has been reported that North Korea may make some sort of announcement at 12 pm. What does the Government make of this information?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I am aware of this media report. However, I have no information as to what the details of this announcement may be. Whatever is announced, the Government has been gathering and analyzing information on the developments of the North Korean missile launch and will continue to remain on alert and keep a close eye on developments so that we can respond to any unexpected situation.

REPORTER: When you returned to your local city this weekend, you made a comment in relation to the North Korean missile launch to the effect that you would prefer that they launched the missile sooner rather than later. Could you please explain for us what you meant by this comment? Also, as a consequence, the opposition parties are demanding your resignation from your current post, how will you respond to these demands?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The fact is, I have already rephrased and corrected my comments at a second doorstepping interview, admitting that I did not make myself clear. I acknowledge that this is what happened. Additionally, on the same day I had to return to Tokyo on very short notice due to the earthquake that occurred off the Sanriku coast and the subsequent tsunami warning. At the Prime Minister's Office, I received some words of caution from Prime Minister Noda on the issue of my comments. As for me, as I stated earlier, of primary concern for the Government is cooperation with the U.S., the Republic of Korea, China and Russia in order to persistently work to prevent North Korea from pressing ahead with the launch. From a domestic perspective, as I stated earlier, from 7 am today we have been on vigilant alert and I understand that it is crucial that we remain as prepared as possible. I would like to choose not to comment on the criticisms directed toward me as it is in relation to the election.

REPORTER: Am I right to understand that you do not have any intention of resigning?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Since April this year I have been working on matters related to the launch that occurred in the same month, and I am continuing to work on the current situation while keeping in mind the lessons learned from April, after having identified the areas that need to be improved. I am therefore of the belief that fulfilling this responsibility is my duty.

REPORTER: Has the Prime Minister provided any instructions in relation to the missile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Instructions have already been provided and we are working as per those instructions. Thus far, no changes have been made to the instructions.


REPORTER: In relation to crisis management response, it appears that Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito is not at the Prime Minister's Office. Am I correct to understand that Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito is not included in the crisis management response team this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: As I announced last week, the relevant ministers of the responsible ministries have already been attending to their own responsibilities as of 7 am this morning. Additionally, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiba is working at the Prime Minister's Office.

REPORTER: I believe that back in April, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito was also part of the team. Why is it that he has not been included this time?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: All cabinet ministers and ministers that are deeply involved in their ministries have been ordered to remain on standby within their own ministry; therefore the same applies to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saito.


REPORTER: Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will co-host an international conference related to nuclear safety that is scheduled to take place from the December 15 to 17 in Fukushima. What are the Government's plans for the main presentations at the conference?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: For three days beginning this Saturday, the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety will be held in Fukushima. Let me first explain the objectives of the event. It is hoped that this conference for ministers and specialists will provide an opportunity for Japan to fulfill the responsibility it has to give an account of events, provide a chance for Japan to contribute to the strengthening of international nuclear safety, and allow Japan to make this stance known by sharing with the international community our findings and lessons learned from the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Additionally, we would like to take this opportunity to demonstrate to the international community that Fukushima is overcoming the nuclear disaster and continues to make steady progress toward reconstruction. We are also hoping that this will serve as a momentum builder to strengthen cooperation among the Government, Fukushima Prefecture and the IAEA in our decontamination and health management efforts. You asked who the main speakers will be but, for now, I can only confirm that we are making final arrangements while considering various domestic and international situations.

REPORTER: I would like to confirm something. Considering the scale of the international conference, am I right to understand that the Government is planning a main presentation by either the Prime Minister or another minister?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The chairperson from Japan is to be Minister for Foreign Affairs Gemba. However, as I stated earlier, as of now I cannot tell you anything with certainty due to various ongoing situations.


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