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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

June 17, 2016 (PM)

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question concerning North Korea. In the afternoon of the 16th, a cylindrical object was found off the coast of Tottori Prefecture. It is alleged that this could be a fragment of a ballistic missile launched by North Korea. Is this true?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: First of all, with regard to the matter you referred to, at around 2 PM yesterday, a Tottori prefectural employee, who was patrolling the coast of Yurihama Town in Tottori Prefecture, found a suspicious object and reported it to the police. The police who received this report confirmed that the object did not pose any danger and has temporarily stored it at Kurayoshi Police Station of the Tottori Prefectural Police. This is what I have been informed of. I have been briefed that the details are now being confirmed, and that at this stage it is difficult to say with certainty whether this object is or is not a fragment of a missile. In any case, the relevant ministries and agencies of the Government are working together to collect and analyze information in coordination with Tottori Prefecture, without ruling out any possibility.


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question regarding the incident in which a Chinese Navy vessel intruded into Japan’s contiguous zone off Kitadaito Island. In response to the concerns expressed by the Government of Japan in regard to this incident, the Ministry of National Defense of China released a statement saying it could not understand why Japan has repeatedly hyped up Chinese Navy vessels’ reasonable and legitimate activities. In the statement, China also asserts that its activity was completely in accordance with the relevant principles of international law. What is your reaction to this?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I also stated during this morning’s press conference, following on from a Chinese Navy vessel’s recent entry into Japan’s contiguous zone off the Senkaku Islands, as well as an intelligence collection vessel’s navigation through Japan’s territorial waters, yesterday this same intelligence collection vessel entered Japan’s contiguous zone. In light of this, the Government has concerns over the recent overall activities of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which is unilaterally escalating its operations in Japan’s surrounding waters. Japan communicated to this effect to China. The Government has responded in a normal and appropriate manner. Japan finds China’s comment to be unacceptable.


REPORTER: I would like to change the subject. On Sunday, a mass rally is scheduled to be held in Okinawa Prefecture in response to the sexual assault and murder of a woman for which a U.S. civilian who is affiliated with the U.S. forces in Japan was arrested. In an interview, Governor Onaga has said that he intends to petition for the fundamental reform of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Can you please share the Government’s thoughts regarding this and explain how it will be dealing with this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government would like to refrain from commenting on the activities of and remarks made by a head of a local government. Having said that, with regard to Japan’s or the Government’s measures to prevent a recurrence of the recent incident, Japan and the United States are engaged in ongoing talks based on the agreement reached between the Minister of Defense and the Secretary of Defense regarding reviewing the treatment of U.S. personnel with SOFA status, including civilians. Furthermore, to be able to swiftly establish effective measures to prevent a recurrence, Japan and the United States will hold thorough talks with a sense of urgency, while the Japanese Government will also do whatever it can independently. Recently, an inaugural ceremony for the new patrol force was held with the attendance of Minister Shimajiri. The Government will take thorough responses to ensure that such an incident never again happens to the people of Okinawa, and we will steadily do whatever we can with a sense of urgency, both in terms of our own efforts, as well as the joint efforts of Japan and the United States.  


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