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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 22, 2017 (AM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]


REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea. The national media of North Korea have reported today that the Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile was successfully launched. This announcement is thought to refer to yesterday’s missile launch, so does the Government’s analysis suggest that the launch was a success?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government believes that the latest missile launch by North Korea may have been of the same type as the new ballistic missile that was launched on February 12 this year. However, we are still analyzing the details at the current point.

REPORTER: It is also being reported that Chairman Kim Jong-un has approved combat deployment and ordered mass production of missiles. North Korea shows no signs of refraining from provocative actions, so does the Government consider it necessary to change its response from the measures that have been implemented to date?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The provocative words and actions of North Korea, including the ballistic missile launch on May 21 and the reports you have just mentioned, are totally unacceptable. In order to prevent North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, it is also important to reduce the country’s foreign currency revenue and also prevent the transfer of materials and technologies related to nuclear and missile development. In addition to ensuring the effectiveness of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the Government will continue to rigorously implement our own measures.

REPORTER: I have a further related question. China has a great deal of influence on North Korea and it is China that provides approximately 90 percent of North Korea’s oil. While some people are of the opinion that China should halt all exports of oil to China, others believe that this could result in further escalation. What is the view of the Government with regard to a total ban on exports of oil to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, given that China accounts for approximately 90 percent of North Korea’s trade volume, there is no change to the Government’s stance of making every effort to work with both China and Russia to ensure that North Korea refrains from any further provocative actions.

REPORTER: Following North Korea’s missile launch yesterday, it has been decided that an emergency meeting of the UNSC will be held. What outcomes does the Government expect from this UNSC meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, following yesterday’s launch, Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) submitted a request to the President of the UNSC for an emergency meeting. Japan will continue to work closely with the United States and the ROK to request that the UNSC send out a strong message against the latest launch, which is a clear violation of UNSC resolutions. Furthermore, we will also expand our efforts further to engage with China and Russia, which are countries that have influence on North Korea.

REPORTER: You have just expressed the expectation that the UNSC will issue a strong message, so is it the case that the Government believes the UNSC should respond not merely by issuing a statement condemning the launch, but should also aim to strengthen sanctions against North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Naturally the Government considers it to be of the utmost importance to continue to work closely with the United States and the ROK, and also engage with influencers, China and Russia in sending out a strong message and stepping up pressure on North Korea to exercise self-restraint.

REPORTER: You have referred to measures to decrease North Korea’s foreign currency revenues and prevent the transfer of materials and technologies. However, such measures have been implemented in the form of UNSC resolutions against North Korea, and despite pressure from Japan, the United States, and the ROK, including military pressure, North Korea shows no signs of ceasing its provocative actions. What is the Government’s view as to why this pressure is not having an adequate effect on North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The UNSC has issued various resolutions to date, which include various measures against North Korea, and I believe it is necessary to study in detail the effect of implementation of such measures. The stoppage of imports of coal to North Korea by China is a measure that was not taken before. In any event, the Government considers it to be important that the measures that are in place are properly enforced.

REPORTER: You also mentioned Japan’s own measures against North Korea, so how does the Government envisage Japan’s own measures?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: They have already been announced on previous occasions and it is important to ensure that these are fully and strictly implemented. At the same time, it will also be important to work together with the United States and the ROK to ensure that financial measures against North Korea are effective.


REPORTER: I have a question on a different topic, concerning long vacations at public schools. Press reports are suggesting that the Government has decided on a policy beginning next fiscal year of establishing long school holidays at public elementary, junior high, and high schools nationwide that are staggered across local governments. It seems that this initiative is to be termed “Kids’ Week.” Could you tell us about the status of considerations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I am aware of the press reports on this matter. The encouragement of paid leave corresponding with school holiday periods that have been staggered throughout the country, would enable parents and their children to spend a relaxing holiday together. This would also be effective in promoting the healthy growth of children, encouraging working people to reform the way they take time off work, and serving to promote tourism and revitalize local economies. We are not yet at the stage where a formal decision has been made. Considerations are being advanced within the Government and after consultation among various councils and meetings relating to education, the economy, and tourism, we aim to compile measures.

REPORTER: The Government has already promoted work style reform, so will this proposed new measure be positioned as promoting reform of the way people take holidays?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Although nothing has been formally decided, in order to enable parents and children to spend holidays together, we must work to create a common understanding among the various parties concerned, including schools and companies. We will be working to deepen such understanding as we move forward with considerations.


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