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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 12, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga



REPORTER: I have a question regarding the situation in the Korean Peninsula. As a measure to keep North Korea in check in response to its nuclear test, the U.S. Forces carried out a low-level flight of a B-52 strategic bomber capable of carrying nuclear warheads in the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) airspace. The North Korean side has strongly protested, saying that the situation pushes them to the brink of war. What is the view of the Japanese Government?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, on the 10th, the United States announced that this B-52 bomber conducted a low-level flight in the vicinity of a U.S. Force base in the ROK. Japan and the United States are coordinating closely over the recent nuclear test conducted by North Korea. During the Japan-U.S. summit (telephone) talk held on the 7th, the two leaders confirmed that the United States is firmly committed to defending Japan with every possible means. The expanded deterrence of the United States is essential for the peace and security of this region. We regard the recent flight as demonstrating the United States’ strong will to play a role in the peace and security of this region.

REPORTER: I have a related question. What is your analysis of the risk of North Korea lodging stronger protests to the situation by engaging in further provocative actions, including the launch of ballistic missiles?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, Japan, the United States, and the ROK will coordinate closely to fully secure the lives and peaceful daily lives of the Japanese people. We will deal with the situation in close coordination with these countries. That is the bottom line.

REPORTER: A related question. In connection with the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, it was announced that a Japan-U.S.-ROK Heads of Delegation Meeting of the Six-Party Talks would be held tomorrow and that a Vice-Ministerial Consultation would be held on the 16th. What will the Japanese side be asserting at these meetings? What outcomes does Japan expect from these meetings?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, the nuclear test by North Korea constitutes a grave threat to Japan’s security and is obviously totally unacceptable. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Japan takes a resolute and determined stance towards North Korea, while coordinating with the United States and the ROK, as well as with the other members of the international community, including with regard to the responses of the United Nations Security Council. In this regard, through the Japan-U.S.-ROK Vice-Ministerial Consultation and other fora, Japan hopes to reconfirm that Japan, the United States, and the ROK will collaborate closely on responses against North Korea.  

REPORTER: My question is in regard to this issue. While I perceive that Japan, the United States, and the ROK are coordinating in a visible manner, can you please tell us the state of your coordination or talks with other countries that are key to this issue, for example, China and Russia?   

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This issue also has significant implications for China and Russia. Japan is coordinating closely with these countries over the Security Council resolution. In addition, Japan is providing clear explanations of its position through diplomatic channels.

REPORTER: I would like to ask a related question regarding the enhancement of Japan’s unilateral sanctions. Recently, the Prime Minister stated that Japan would implement rigorous responses by referring to the proposal made by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The recommendations submitted by the LDP’s Headquarters for North Korean Abductions in May of last year included items such as the re-imposition of regulations that were lifted in 2014 and banning the re-entry into Japan of the senior members of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). Which items will the Government be referring to with priority?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, as I stated moments ago, in response to the recent nuclear test, Japan will take resolute and determined responses against North Korea that will include reviewing Japan’s unilateral measures. In doing so, Japan will also take into account the UN’s responses; coordination with the countries concerned, especially among Japan, the United States, and the ROK; the response of North Korea; and the actions of the international community. In this context, with regard to the specific measures that Japan will take against North Korea, Japan is currently reviewing what measures would be the most effective means for comprehensively resolving the various issues, including the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues. The measures in the LDP’s proposal that the Prime Minister referred to are of course included in our options.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. This morning, some media outlets reported that the Government has decided that if a Chinese warship enters Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, maritime security operations would be ordered and vessels of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) would urge the Chinese warship to swiftly exit the waters. Is this true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First, in a Cabinet decision that was adopted in May of last year, it was decided that in principle, as a response to foreign naval vessels navigating in Japan’s territorial waters or other waters that cannot be considered innocent passage, maritime security operations would be ordered and SDF units would request the vessels to exit the waters, among other measures. This has already been adopted as a Cabinet decision in May of last year. Last November, when the Chinese Navy’s intelligence collection vessel navigated back and forth in waters near the Senkaku Islands, Japan expressed its concern to China through diplomatic channels. That said, I would like to refrain from disclosing our exchanges in detail.

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