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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 18, 2016 (AM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

I would like to give an overview of the Cabinet meeting. The meeting approved 24 general and other measures, the promulgation of legislation, cabinet orders, and personnel decisions. With regard to statements by ministers, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications made statements concerning the “Situation of Local Public Finance” and the allocation of fiscal 2015 special tax grants as well as special tax grants for reconstruction for March. The Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare made a statement concerning the situation surrounding the spring wage offensive. Prime Minister Abe made a statement concerning acting ministers while the ministers in charge are away on overseas visits, among other matters.

Today, at around 5:54 AM, North Korea is deemed to have launched one ballistic missile in an eastern direction from near Sukchon on the west coast of North Korea. It is projected that the launched ballistic missile flew approximately 800 km and landed in the Sea of Japan. As of now, we have no confirmed reports of damages to aircraft or vessels. As regards the Government’s responses, following the first report from the Ministry of Defense to the Cabinet Secretariat, information was consolidated at the Response Office within the Prime Minister’s Office for the Situation in North Korea, which is established at the Crisis Management Center of the Prime Minister’s Office. In addition, a meeting among director-general level officials of the relevant ministries and agencies was held under the leadership of the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management and the Secretary General of the National Security Secretariat. Furthermore, from 8:07 AM today, the National Security Council (NSC) convened a meeting and discussed information aggregation and responses. At the NSC meeting, the Prime Minister reconfirmed the three items he had already instructed, and instructed that Japan shall continue to coordinate with the international community, strongly urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint, and take resolute responses by steadily implementing the relevant measures. North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile today is an extremely problematic act from the standpoint of ensuring the security of aircraft and vessels. In addition, it violates the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, and goes against the purport of the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. Japan therefore immediately lodged a serious protest to North Korea. The Government will continue to coordinate closely with the United States, the Republic of Korea, and other countries to urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint, and will take all possible responses necessary to be able to respond to any situation, including conducting surveillance, with a sense of urgency.

March 18 has been designated Cyber Awareness Day and the period from February 1 to March 18 as Cyber Security Awareness Month in order to further raise awareness regarding cyber security. As such, during this period the Government has intensively carried out initiatives focused on cyber security. On the final day, which is today, a competition-style training session will be held with the participation of representatives from one office and 12 ministries and agencies in order to enhance the Government’s capacity to respond to cyber attacks.


REPORTER: I have a question in connection with North Korea’s missile. The Minister of Defense stated that it could be a medium-range Nodong. Do you consider this to be a high possibility?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, the Government is carrying out a variety of analyses. In this process, we have determined that today’s launch was a ballistic missile launch. I would like to refrain from disclosing further details.

REPORTER: I have a related question. When you said that Japan had lodged a protest against North Korea, was this done through the embassy channel in Beijing?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Yes, it was done through the embassy channel in Beijing.

REPORTER: A related question. North Korea has launched ballistic missiles in succession—on the 7th of last month, the 10th of this month, and today. Do you perceive that North Korea’s provocations will continue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, the Government continues to conduct steady surveillance, while having the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) maintain the necessary readiness, to ensure that the Government can respond to any situation and firmly protect the lives and peaceful daily lives of the people.

REPORTER: My question is in regard to this issue. I understand that a Nodong with a range of at least 1,000 km could pose a threat to mainland Japan. What is your assessment of the threat posed to Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I stated moments ago, the Government is conducting steady surveillance while having the SDF maintain the necessary readiness to ensure that the Government can protect the safe and secure daily lives of the people in any situation.

REPORTER: Does that mean the Government does not view this as a direct threat?


REPORTER: The Government does not consider that the type of missile that was launched today poses a direct threat to mainland Japan?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the matter, but I would like to refrain from responding.

REPORTER: A question concerning this. North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles within a short timeframe in violation of Security Council resolutions. Does Japan view that new measures of some kind are needed to urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: With regard to this matter, first of all, what is important at this time is to swiftly and steadily shift to executing the Security Council resolution, which contains strong sanctions. With respect to other measures, Japan will take steady responses in coordination with the relevant countries.

REPORTER: I have a related question. You just referred to coordination with the relevant countries. Does this mean the Japanese Government will not be requesting the Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to urge the consideration of new sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, we have a rigorous Security Council resolution at this time, so I think it is first important that we steadily and swiftly shift to executing this resolution.


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