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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 7, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the nuclear test conducted yesterday by North Korea. Yesterday, or in the early hours of this morning Japan time, an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was convened, which issued a statement condemning the nuclear test by North Korea. I believe that in order to impose further new sanctions on North Korea in the future, the involvement of China and Russia in particular will be crucial. In his instructions, the Prime Minister also mentioned cooperation with China and Russia, so at what level and through what channels are discussions being conducted with these two countries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The situation is that the Government is currently engaged in consultations with all countries concerned, including the response to be made by the UNSC, through United Nations and diplomatic channels.


REPORTER: I have a related question. Immediately following the nuclear test and on the same day the UNSC held an emergency meeting and a number of hours later a statement was issued. What are your thoughts on the influence and effectiveness of Japan with regard to this response and also future discussions on a new UNSC resolution, given that Japan has assumed a position as a non-permanent member of the UNSC?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan assumed a seat on the UNSC from January. As this recent situation has a very serious impact on Japan, the Government considers it to be important to take the lead in forming a resolution by the UNSC, in cooperation with the United States and also the Republic of Korea (ROK). The Government is therefore proceeding firmly with a view to formulating a resolution.


REPORTER: What is the Government’s view on the possibility of North Korea escalating its provocative actions, including the launch of a ballistic missile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is a fact that advances in nuclear development by North Korea, such as the strengthening of ballistic missile capabilities, pose a grave threat to the safety of Japan, and North Korea has also engaged in provocative actions, including announcements that Japan is a target for a missile attack. It is from this perspective that the Government will continue to cooperate closely with the United States and monitor such actions.


REPORTER: I have a related question and it refers to something I mentioned also in yesterday’s press conference. In a press briefing, the Press Secretary of the White House stated that the initial analysis that has been conducted of the nuclear test yesterday is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test. The Ministry of National Defense of the ROK has also indicated the same view. What is the view of the Government of Japan of the claims made by North Korea about a successful hydrogen bomb test, based on analysis to date?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly I am aware of the comment made by the White House Press Secretary that analysis is not consistent with a successful hydrogen bomb test and I am also naturally aware that the ROK has indicated the same view. However, analysis is still being conducted about whether the test was successful or not, and therefore I would like to be cautious about making any comment at this time. Speaking in general terms, while a hydrogen bomb has many more times the destructive power of an atomic bomb, I understand that considerably more advanced technology is required to construct a hydrogen bomb than for an atomic bomb. However, from a Government standpoint, I would like to refrain from stating any judgment at the current time about whether or not the test involved the detonation of a hydrogen bomb.


REPORTER: I have a further question. One of characteristic aspects of this recent test is that North Korea did not notify China in advance. What is the Government’s view with regard to concerns about North Korea taking an isolationist stance and detonating a nuclear weapon?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, there is no way that this bomb detonation in the nuclear test can be justified and the UNSC has confirmed that it will respond to the test in a harsh manner. I believe that it will be important for the international community to demonstrate that no benefit whatsoever will accrue to North Korea by reneging on its promises.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You have mentioned that there are various opinions concerning new and stronger sanctions against North Korea, including economic sanctions, restrictions on the movement of people and financial sanctions. Does the Government of Japan consider that sanctions, including new financial and economic sanctions and restrictions on the movement of people, should be further strengthened?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is not something that concerns only Japan, but is rather a shared recognition at the United Nations that sanctions must be considered, given that this is not the first time that North Korea has engaged in such an act. I believe that considerations will start from this shared recognition.


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