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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

February 8, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea’s missile launch. The urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a statement that strongly condemns North Korea’s missile launch and calls for expeditious adoption of a new UNSC resolution that includes sanctions. More than a month has passed since the nuclear test, but there is still not a new resolution. What is the Japanese Government’s view of the latest statement?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The UNSC held unofficial consultations for roughly an hour and a half early on the morning of February 8 in response to requests from Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to hold an urgent UNSC meeting. I have received reports indicating that all of the countries criticized North Korea’s missile launch. After the consultations finished, the UNSC issued a press release that strongly condemns North Korea’s missile launch as a grave violation of UNSC resolutions, reaffirmed that a clear threat to international peace and security still exists in the context of the nuclear test, and states that it intends to expeditiously adopt a new UNSC resolution with significant additional measures. The Government thinks there is a need to accelerate UNSC consultations and swift adoption of a strong resolution following the latest launch. Japan is currently engaged in close cooperation with related countries aimed at swift adoption of a resolution that includes strong measures.

REPORTER: This is related. Regarding a strong resolution and significant sanctions, Shigeo Iizuka, representative of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, commented yesterday that the international community’s sanctions do not appear to be working. Despite sanctions, North Korea has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and missile tests. There is concern that the same thing could be repeated this time even with new sanctions. What is the Japanese Government’s view on the effect of these sanctions? 

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think it is extremely important for the world to reach agreement on a stern response to this behavior of conducting nuclear tests and missiles, so it is very meaningful to swiftly adopt a resolution with strong measures at the United Nations.

REPORTER: This is related. It is being said that China’s cautious stance is one of the reasons for an inability to adopt a resolution even though over a month has passed since the nuclear test. Do you expect a change in China’s response following the latest missile launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I just mentioned, the UNSC issued a press statement stating that it intends to expeditiously adopt a new UNSC resolution that includes further significant measures. Since China obviously consented to this statement, I think we can expect swift implementation of a tough response.

REPORTER: If this is the case, does the Japanese Government plan to directly encourage the Chinese side, in some way, to take unified action?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Of course, the Government intends to strongly request this through various channels.

REPORTER: For Japan’s own sanctions, is there a possibility that Japan will move ahead prior to the UNSC’s sanctions resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In response to Prime Minister Abe’s instructions yesterday, the Government as a whole is currently making preparations to enable a swift decision on the content of detailed measures from the standpoint of determining what the most effective steps are for Japan to take in order to achieve a comprehensive resolution of various issues, including the abductions, nuclear and missile issues.


REPORTER: The United States and the ROK announced yesterday that the two sides will begin discussions regarding installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in the ROK. While there are growing protests in China, what is the Japanese Government’s view?  

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The ROK is our most important neighbor with whom we share strategic interests. I am aware that discussions will take place between the United States and the ROK regarding a detailed deployment plan. The Government supports this activity because advances in U.S.-ROK cooperation contribute to regional peace and security.

REPORTER: This is related. Defense Minister Nakatani mentioned the possibility of Japan considering installation of THAAD or Aegis Ashore in November 2015. Please explain the current state of this review.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan currently handles its defense through a combination of Aegis vessels and PAC3. Nevertheless, our National Defense Program Guideline calls for improving immediate readiness, integrated response capabilities, and continuing response capabilities in our ballistic missile defense system, particularly in light of the improved capabilities of North Korea’s ballistic missiles as seen this time. The Ministry of Defense does not have a specific plan for installing THAAD at this stage, though I have heard that Aegis or new asset deployments are considered to be possible specific ways of bolstering capabilities. In any case, at this stage I think the Government will accelerate its review of the future format of Japan’s ballistic missile defense system, including research on advanced initiatives and equipment in the United States, with the aim of protecting the Japanese people.


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