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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 15, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

I. Opening remarks
I’ll begin with a review of the Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet approved government ordinances and personnel decisions for 10 items, including general matters.

The Global Warming Prevention Measures Headquarters met today after the Cabinet meeting and approved the proposed Plan on Global Warming Countermeasures. Our goal is a Cabinet decision around early May after public comments and other required procedures. The Global Warming Prevention Measures Headquarters also approved the draft outline of the Government Action Plan with leading initiatives for the Government and reinforcement of efforts to further promote a national movement on global warming prevention measures.  

The Cabinet meeting today approved an invitation to Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, and the First Lady as official visitors. They will stay in Japan during March 27-31. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan will meet with President Mugabe and the First Lady and host a lunch at the Imperial Palace. Additionally, Prime Minister Abe plans to hold a summit meeting and host a dinner event. Zimbabwe has significant potential in the areas of natural resources and agriculture. The Japanese Government hopes that this visit by President Mugabe deepens the cooperative relationship between our countries, including cooperation for the success of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) scheduled to take place in Kenya in August 2016. 

II. Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question related to the North Korean situation. The Korean Central News Agency is reporting that Kim Jong-un, First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, ordered related divisions to promptly conduct an explosion test of a nuclear warhead and a launch test of a ballistic rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in order to enhance the reliability of the country’s nuclear attack capability. Please explain your view of this news.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan absolutely cannot accept North Korea’s provocative behavior that lacks any sign of willingness to abandon nuclear and missile developments. Japan intends to strongly urge North Korea to sincerely accept repeated firm warnings and criticisms by the international community, to forthrightly and fully abide by successive Security Council resolutions, including the recently adopted resolution, and to refrain from further provocative behavior. Japan plans to put its fullest efforts into an unwavering commitment to principles of dialogue and pressure and action-for-action aimed at achieving a comprehensive solution to various issues related to North Korea, including abductions, nuclear weapons, and missiles, while closely cooperating with the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and other related countries to be prepared for all circumstances.

REPORTER: While North Korea is pressing forward with its nuclear weapon and missile developments at this point, how does the Japanese Government assess the extent to which technology has advanced for miniaturizing the nuclear warhead?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is gathering and analyzing intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile developments on a regular basis with serious interest. However, I would like to refrain from replying about content or analysis of detailed information because of the sensitivity of the topic. Japan is regularly gathering and analyzing intelligence.

REPORTER: This is a related question. First Secretary Kim Jong-un intends to proceed with an explosion test and ballistic missile launch test in the near term as just noted. What are the Japanese Government’s thoughts about the possibility of these events occurring fairly soon at this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is gathering and analyzing intelligence with serious interest as I just explained. Within this context, the Government has established a robust alertness stance working together with related countries in order to protect the peaceful existence and lives of the Japanese people. 

REPORTER: I have a question about the Japan-China relationship. The foreign ministers of Japan and China held a telephone talk yesterday and agreed to cooperatively arrange a diplomatic schedule. The foreign ministers also exchanged opinions on a visit to China by Foreign Minister Kishida. Please explain the current situation for coordination of the timing of a visit to China.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Foreign Minister Kishida held a telephone talk with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday. The meeting was conducted in a positive atmosphere, and the foreign ministers constructively exchanged opinions about the North Korea issue and Japan-China relations. The two countries acknowledged that the North Korea issue is a situation that they can jointly address in the context of a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests and agreed to cooperate closely in strict enforcement of the Security Council resolution. Regarding Japan-China relations, Foreign Minister Kishida emphasized that both countries should make constructive efforts toward further improvement of the relationship. The two countries also agreed to cooperatively arrange diplomatic schedules based on the recognition that this year is an important year for Japan-China relations. I think it was valuable that the foreign ministers conducted a frank telephone talk from this perspective. Regarding a visit by Foreign Minister Kishida to China from your question, the two countries are exchanging opinions and plan to continue their coordination efforts. 

REPORTER: The Chinese side did not respond to repeated requests for a telephone talk after the nuclear test by North Korea in January. What is the Government’s view of the reason for holding a telephone talk at the current timing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am not clear on the details. However, Japan has consistently retained its stance of being committed to jointly address various issues in the context of a friendly and truly mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests with China.

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