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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


  • The Issues related to North Korea’s launch of missiles
  • The approval of a revised proposal for amending the national referendum act


REPORTER: I have a question regarding North Korea’s launch of missiles. In responding to the launch, the Japanese Government ended up not operating J-ALERT on this occasion. This matter was also raised during this morning’s press conference, and I believe you explained that you “did not consider there to be any need” for J-ALERT. Can you please explain in a little more detail why there was no need? Based on what grounds did you deem it was not necessary?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To my knowledge, J-ALERT should be operated in situations such as when a missile flies in Japanese airspace or lands in Japanese territory.

REPORTER: Does that mean that to some extent, at the time these missiles were launched, the Japanese Government already had a preliminary understanding of the range, the type of missile, and other such matters?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As this matter concerns the response capacity of Japan, I would like to refrain from answering your question.

REPORTER: I have a related question regarding the impact of the launch on the Japan-North Korea talks. I believe you made it clear that the talks would not be called off during this morning’s press conference. However, in the past, when North Korea last fired a long-range missile in December 2012, it was the case that the talks were suspended. What exactly is the difference between the two policy decisions? Also, can you please explain in detail the process leading to the latest decision?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, during the previous case, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was not the party in power. As such, we do not know what circumstances led to that decision. Furthermore, I do not think it is necessarily appropriate to draw simple comparisons between the previous and current situations. Our decision this time is based on the Abe administration’s strong commitment to comprehensively resolve the outstanding issues of concern such as the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues. We chose to therefore hold talks and will squarely lodge a protest against these matters.

REPORTER: I would like to ask another question. I assume that in the previous case the Government suspended dialogue in order to apply a certain level of pressure on North Korea. First, what is your opinion of this decision? Secondly, do you foresee that by continuing dialogue, Japan can encourage North Korea to change its actions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the very least, I gather that North Korea understands the consequences of the previous decision.

REPORTER: How about your outlook for changes in North Korea’s actions? What developments do you hope to see from the upcoming talks on the 30th and 31st?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: To be honest, I cannot say, as this is not a one-way process. At the very least, the Abe administration is committed to comprehensively dealing with the outstanding issues of concern such as the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues. Therefore, while Japan already lodged a protest against the latest launch, Japan will also lodge a clear protest during the upcoming talks. 

REPORTER: I have a related question. During this morning’s press conference, you expressed your view that the recent missile launch violates the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. Nevertheless, you are still going ahead with the Japan-North Korea talks. Do you not think there is a risk that the international community may incorrectly interpret this? They may think that Japan condoned or is de facto tolerating North Korea’s missile launch.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not believe that is the case. We are deciding everything in coordination with the relevant countries.


REPORTER: This morning, the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution approved a revised proposal for amending the national referendum act. This proposal sets out the procedures for revising the Constitution. Assuming that the party procedures are completed quickly, there is a higher chance now that the bill to revise the national referendum act will be passed during the current session of the Diet. Can you please share your comments?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the LDP presented our vision of a Constitution that is suitable for the 21st century in the form of a draft revision of the Constitution. Through our election campaigns, we widely called for a revision of the Constitution among the public. In this sense, it is important to resolve the three very tasks that remain in relation to the national referendum system, which constitutes the foundation for the revision of the Constitution. Once that is done, we must make thorough and steady efforts to revise the Constitution, while deepening national debate on the subject and bearing in mind the reviews of the Commissions on the Constitution of the House of Representatives and House of Councillors. In this sense, I welcome the fact that a revised draft was agreed upon between the ruling and opposition parties, and that the bill is now ready for submission to the Diet.  



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