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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

March 9, 2017 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
This video's audio is a provisional translation through live simultaneous interpretation.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Q&As

REPORTER: I have a question about the recent missile launches by North Korea. It is being reported that one of the missiles that was launched fell closer to the Japanese mainland than ever before, falling approximately 200 km NNW of the Noto Peninsula. What can you tell us about the facts behind these press reports?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the four ballistic missiles launched by North Korea, which are thought to be Scud Extended Range (Scud-ER) missiles, are believed to have all been launched at around the same time and flown for approximately 1,000 km. Three are believed to have fallen in the Sea of Japan within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with the fourth missile falling in proximity to Japan's EEZ. Of the four missiles launched it is estimated that the one that fell closest to Japan fell into the Sea of Japan approximately 200 km north of the Noto Peninsula. The Government will continue to coordinate closely with the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and other relevant countries, and call strongly on North Korea to exercise self-restraint. In addition, the Government is continuing to engage in advanced monitoring and, with a sense of urgency, is taking all necessary measures to be able to respond to any situation.

REPORTER: I have a related question. It is being reported that the missiles fell in a north-south line at 80 km intervals from each other. This would give credence to theories that North Korea has successfully improved its missile technologies. What is the view of the Government on this point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, although I am aware of press reports that the four missiles fell in a north-south line approximately 80 km apart, I would like to refrain from commenting on specific details as doing so would reveal Japan's intelligence-gathering capabilities. What I would say is that this is the third time that North Korean ballistic missiles have fallen into Japan's EEZ, following launches in August and September last year, which could indicate that North Korea has achieved improvements in terms of technological reliability. Furthermore, all four missiles flew in an easterly direction for approximately 1,000 km, and if a 1,000 km arc is drawn from the Korean Peninsula it is evident that Western Japan would fall within range of such missiles. The Government's recognition, therefore, is that North Korean missiles pose a real and present threat. Furthermore, last year North Korea went ahead with two nuclear weapons tests within the space of just eight months, whereas previously tests had been implemented at three or four-year intervals. Over the last year more than 20 ballistic missile launches have been implemented, which is the largest number ever recorded. There is a possibility that North Korea has successfully developed a miniaturized nuclear weapon or a warhead capable of being mounted on missiles, in addition to which North Korea is seeking to improve the technological reliability of its ballistic missiles and pursue the development of new types of missile. The Government's view is that this latest launch clearly demonstrates once again that the threat posed by North Korea has entered a new phase.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. You have just stated that the missile that fell closest to Japan was 200 km from the Noto Peninsula. Is this the closest distance ever that a North Korean missile has fallen near the Japanese mainland?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from going into specific details, but it is a fact that the missile fell extremely close to Japan. Of the three missiles that were launched on September 5 last year, one of those too came very close to Japan, falling an estimated 200 km west of Okushiri Island in Hokkaido.

(Abridged)
 
REPORTER: I have a question on a different subject. Representatives from the Japan Association of Ordinance-Designated City Mayors have visited you to present a request to participate in the Forum for Consultations between the National and Regional Governments. Could I ask about your response to this request?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly the Japan Association of Ordinance-Designated City Mayors requested that their organization be designated as a member of the Forum for Consultations between the National and Regional Governments. As this would necessitate amendment of relevant laws, the organization is requesting observer status as an interim measure. Since the Japan Association of City Mayors is the national organization designated to represent the six national bodies that represent members of local government assemblies under the Local Autonomy Law, the inclusion of the Japan Association of Ordinance-Designated City Mayors as a member would necessitate an amendment to the law. Although granting the organization observer status would be possible in legal terms it will be necessary to confirm the views of the Japan Association of City Mayors. Given that ordinance-designated cities account for 20 percent of the population nationwide and that they play a central role in social and economic activities in each region, the Government believes that adding ordinance-designated cities to the Forum for Consultations between the National and Regional Governments would help to further invigorate discussions. The Government therefore intends to consult fully with current members of the forum with regard to this matter.

REPORTER: So are we to understand that the Government is positive about the request that has been submitted?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Rather than being something for the national government to decide, this is a matter on which we will consult fully with representatives of local government and in particular the Japan Association of City Mayors.

REPORTER: I have a question concerning the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA Board of Governors has decided to reappoint Mr. Yukiya Amano, the incumbent Director General of the IAEA for a further term of office, when his second term expires at the end of November this year. Mr. Amano's reappointment is expected to be formally confirmed at the General Conference of the IAEA in September, so can I ask for a comment from the Government on this matter?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, Director General Amano was re-appointed by acclamation at the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors. Japan welcomes the reappointment of Director General Amano and looks forward to the approval of his reappointment at the General Conference of the IAEA in September this year, and hopes for his continued and splendid leadership. The Government fully supports the activities of Director General Amano.

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