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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 3, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: North Korea notified international organizations of its plan to launch a satellite. Please explain the Government’s response, including preparations for the launch.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Last night, we received notices from related international organizations that North Korea plans to launch a satellite sometime during the period of February 8 to 25. The notices indicate that anticipated areas for falling parts are similar to the launch from December 2012, including the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea southwest of the Korean Peninsula, and the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines. The course passes above Japan’s Nansei Islands. Numerous Security Council Resolutions prohibit North Korea from making launches that use ballistic missile technology. North Korea’s stance of pressing forward with a ballistic missile launch following a nuclear test is a clear violation of Security Council resolutions, even if it is labelled a satellite, and is a serious provocation against Japan’s national security. The Government is strongly urging North Korea to comply with the Security Council resolutions and refrain from the launch. Prime Minister Abe issued three instructions following the notification. He requested that relevant ministries and agencies cooperate and take all possible measures to gather and analyze information. He also called for cooperation with the United States, Republic of Korea (ROK), and other related countries to strongly urge North Korea not to conduct the launch. Additionally, he instructed the Government to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese people, including fully preparing for contingencies. The Government is gathering information at the Prime Minister’s Crisis Management Office, and the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management held a Bureau Chiefs Meeting for relative ministries and agencies at 8am today that discussed the response. Furthermore, the Government submitted a protest to North Korea’s Embassy in Beijing at 7:55am Japan time. We also intend to hold a Meeting among Four Ministers of the National Security Council around noon between sessions of the Budget Committee. The Government continues to make its utmost efforts to collect and analyze information, while cooperating closely with the United States and ROK, to deal with any situations and is fully prepared to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese people.

REPORTER: This is related. I think the Government is already on alert on the sea and land. Is there a possibility of reinforcing preparedness following this notice?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is fully ready to address any situations, including a launch of a ballistic missile, and has prepared itself based on a strong resolve to protect the lives and peaceful existence of the Japanese people. I would like to refrain from commenting on the nature of our preparations in light of the announcement, though we are fully prepared.

REPORTER: On a related topic, the United Nations Security Council is currently conducting negotiations on sanctions against North Korea following the nuclear test. What type of impact do you think this notification regarding the launch could have on sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: This is a clear violation of Security Council resolutions because existing Security Resolutions prohibit North Korea from any launches that utilize ballistic missile technology. Japan obviously, and also other related United Nations countries, are first calling on North Korea to restrain itself and refrain from the launch, but I think various responses are currently being reviewed if the launch occurs.


REPORTER: There are some media reports indicating that Chiyoda has received an order for an oil refinery project in Iran where economic sanctions have been lifted. If the reports are accurate, this will be the first project since the lifting of economic sanctions. Please explain the facts known by the Government and its reaction.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is aware of the media coverage. However, as a Government representative, I would like to refrain from commenting because the subject party has not externally disclosed the content. Nevertheless, Iran offers a very large market and the Japanese Government is providing steady support to enable aggressive pursuit of business opportunities.


REPORTER: This is related to a media report on the arrest of a North Korean operative. It has been said for some time that Japan is a “heaven for spies.” What is your view of the need for adjustments to the legal system for wiretapping restrictions and spy arrests from the standpoint of early prevention of terrorism ahead of 2020?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau arrested a man who was a former associate professor at Korea University yesterday. This person was collecting a variety of information based on instructions from North Korean authorities, and the Government will be undertaking thorough investigations, including of this point. In any case, I think it is necessary to review what legal adjustments might be needed to address this type of case from a broad perspective.

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