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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

  • Nuclear Test by North Korea

With regard to the possibility of a nuclear test having been conducted by North Korea, the Government has been engaged in efforts to confirm the facts, maintaining close contact with countries concerned, including the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Today at 2:39 pm it was announced by Korean Central Television of North Korea that the country had successfully conducted its third underground nuclear test at the underground nuclear test facility in the north of North Korea. Following this announcement the Government lodged a serious protest with the North Korean government, via embassy channels in Beijing. The Government of Japan strongly condemns the conducting of this nuclear test by North Korea. In response to the test the Prime Minister has issued a statement, which has been distributed to you. (I am sorry it has not yet been distributed, but it will be distributed now. Please distribute it.) In addition, based on instructions from the Prime Minister diplomatic actions are being taken. First of all, later on today the Prime Minister is scheduled to engage in an exchange of opinions with Ambassador John V. Roos of the United States. Arrangements are also being made for summit-level and foreign minister-level telephone talks to take place with the United States and the ROK, and other countries concerned. The Japanese mission to the United Nations has requested the ROK, which holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to hold a meeting promptly. This meeting is scheduled to be held at approximately 11:00 pm this evening, Japan time. Based on the instructions of the Prime Minister that were issued at the meeting of the Security Council of Japan, at 2:30 pm a liaison meeting for radiological countermeasures has been held. The monitoring system in Japan will be strengthened with collaboration among the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Environment, and Japan's 47 prefectural governments, and information will be provided to the people of Japan. In specific terms, this monitoring will involve collaboration between the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) and prefectural governments, taking samples and measurements of suspended particulate matter and xenon in the air and on the ground.


  • Nuclear Test by North Korea

REPORTER: Does the Government intend to impose unilateral sanctions against North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes. As is noted in the sixth point on the handout that has been distributed to you, the Government intends to deny, in principle, re-entry into Japan of those who are positioned to effectively assist North Korean authorities residing in Japan if they leave for North Korea. Specifically, this refers to the five deputy chairpersons of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

REPORTER: On a related note, I imagine that the Abduction Issue Headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will be issuing a request hereafter, but is the Government considering measures that would strengthen restrictions on money that can be taken out of Japan by persons who are planning on traveling to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Above all, from now on a process of ongoing consideration will seek to determine what sort of measures should be implemented against North Korea and an overall judgment will be made.

REPORTER: At the time of the UNSC resolution in January there was discussion that if North Korea were to engage in a further nuclear test, then additional sanctions would be imposed and naturally it was the case that Japan was involved in those UNSC discussions at that time. With regard to the timing of the additional sanctions to be imposed by Japan itself, are we to understand that the announcement that has been made today is one that sets forth Japan's own response to the nuclear test, without waiting for the discussions to take place in the UNSC? I am referring to the question of timing.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government intends to implement the measures that have been announced from today.


REPORTER: North Korea has announced that the nuclear test has been conducted. Have any efforts been made to confirm objectively the facts of this announcement by conducting measurements for radioactive materials, for example? Has any information been provided by other countries such as the United States, ROK or Russia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Simultaneously with the announcement being made by North Korea, the Government has been sharing intelligence with the ROK, and also with the United States as I have already mentioned and a judgment was made on the basis of those consultations. With regard to the measurement of suspended particulate matter and xenon, as I mentioned in my response to a previous question, Japan has implemented its own actions and ASDF aircraft took off at 3:35 pm to engage in such measurements. With regard to traces of xenon in the atmosphere and how this will be disseminated, a judgment will be made when we know a little more after taking samples.

REPORTER: So it is the Government's recognition that it is an objective fact that the nuclear test was conducted?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes. The Government confirmed the fact of the test in the course of cooperation with the ROK and the United States.


REPORTER: You have stated that a protest has been lodged through embassy channels in Beijing. Has any response been forthcoming from North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are still at the stage where a protest has been lodged and I have not received reports about any response from North Korea. First and foremost, the Government has lodged a severe protest.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning cooperation with China on this issue. What kind of international cooperation have you been engaged in with China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given that the UNSC has issued resolutions concerning North Korea and that both Japan and China are involved in the Six-Party Talks process, up to now we have engaged together in strong cooperation with international organizations and through all manner of channels to urge North Korea not to implement a nuclear test under any circumstances.

REPORTER: With regard to sanctions and from the perspective of international cooperation on this matter, I believe that for any sanctions to be effective it will be essential to gain the cooperation of China. What response will the Government of Japan seek from China with regard to the nuclear test by North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: China has also approved the UNSC resolutions, on the basis of which I think it is natural that it will make a robust response to the nuclear test. Japan also has engaged up until now in cooperation with such international organizations and China, using all possible means to urge North Korea to desist from conducting a nuclear test. Now that the test has actually taken place there will be sanctions imposed based on UNSC resolutions and through international relations Japan will call strongly for further sanctions.

REPORTER: You have noted that there is an ongoing process of consideration relating to sanctions, so do you think that depending on the response that North Korea makes from now it is possible that Japan will further strengthen its own sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is currently giving consideration to all kinds of sanctions. As an initial measure a decision has been made today to deny re-entry to Japan for the five deputy chairpersons of the General Association of Korean Residents.

REPORTER: It has been noted that even if Japan were to seek to impose further sanctions, there are in actual fact not many more options left open. What kind of sanctions do you envisage?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I believe there are still various options available to us, including financial-related sanctions.


REPORTER: What kind of consultations will the Government be seeking in the forum of the UNSC meeting that is being held this evening (Japan time)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Given the fact that despite the strong and repeated calls by the international community for North Korea to refrain from conducting a nuclear test it has gone ahead and done it, naturally Japan will be requesting that strict sanctions are imposed.


REPORTER: Do you think that this incident will have an impact on the issue relating to the abduction of Japanese citizens?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The basic stance of the Abe Administration is that the abduction, nuclear and missile issues all need to be resolved and require a strong response. The response to the nuclear test today involves the international community and the abduction issue also involves the international community through the forum of the Six-Party Talks, and Japan will continue to make every effort to seek the return of all of the Japanese citizens who have been abducted by North Korea at the earliest possible time.

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