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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

May 29, 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’s missile launch. Since the launch, has the Government made progress in analyzing the launch, such as determining the type of missile or the altitude of its flight?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Based on the consolidated information gathered so far, at approximately 5:40 a.m. this morning, North Korea launched a ballistic missile in an easterly direction from the proximity of Wonsan, North Korea. We are still analyzing the details but it is presumed that a single missile was fired and that it traveled approximately 400 kilometers and fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Sea of Japan, approximately 500 kilometers from Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture and approximately 300 kilometers from the Oki Islands in the same prefecture. With regard to the type of missile, we need to conduct a comprehensive and expert analysis based on the information we have. Although we are still analyzing the details at this point in time, based on the flight distance and other factors, we believe it is possible that it was a Scud missile. With regard to the elevation, it is still under analysis based on a comprehensive consideration of the information we have, but we believe that the missile travelled at an altitude of approximately 100 kilometers. That is all.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Following this launch, will Japan request that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) hold an emergency meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The measures have certainly been under discussion at the United Nations.

REPORTER: If I may follow up, you mentioned that it is highly possible that this was a Scud missile, which is a short-range one. Considering the fact that the flight distance was 400 kilometers, does the Government view the missile launch as a success?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The analysis is still ongoing, but as you said, a Scud missile is a short-range missile.

REPORTER: With regard to measures against North Korea, the Government of Japan has emphasized the need to increase pressure. As for the future response, in what areas do you think it would be most effective to strengthen sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Despite the many sanctions adopted by the UNSC to date, North Korea has continued to conduct repeated acts of provocation. We will engage Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation. In addition, the Government views the role of China within the UNSC as being extremely significant and we will engage China on this issue, both in a Japan-U.S. context, and also a Japan-U.S.-ROK context. At the same time, in light of the fact that such acts of provocation are continuing, despite the adoption of UNSC resolutions again and again, Japan believes it is necessary for the UNSC to carefully consider what measures would be effective.

REPORTER: As you just mentioned, I think that China’s role will become even more important going forward. From Japan’s perspective, what specific response would you like China to take?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan will take all opportunities to engage China on this issue, including the opportunity presented by State Councilor Yang Jiechi’s visit to Japan today. Furthermore, North Korea was recognized as a top priority for the international community at the G7 Summit, and the G7 agreed that it is ready to strengthen sanctions and other measures against North Korea. I believe it is necessary to continue to respond firmly to North Korea, including in the ways that I just mentioned.

REPORTER: I have a follow up question. China and Russia have demonstrated a stance of exploring dialogue with North Korea. As such, there seems to be a discrepancy in how Japan and the United States perceive the threat of North Korea, and how China and Russia do. Does Japan intend to engage China and Russia more strongly than before on this issue?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting held on the occasion of the G7 Summit, Prime Minister Abe and President Trump agreed that rather than dialogue, it is necessary to apply pressure on North Korea, and also that the role of China is important. In this context, I consider it to be of the utmost importance that the relevant countries, including China, work closely together and take concrete actions to apply pressure on North Korea.

REPORTER: Regarding State Councilor Yang’s visit to Japan, which you just mentioned, is he scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Abe?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At this point in time nothing is decided.

REPORTER: I have a question regarding the abduction issue. Today marks three years since the agreement reached in Stockholm in which North Korea promised to recommence investigations regarding the abduction victims. Based on the agreement, North Korea established the Special Investigation Committee. However, North Korea disbanded the committee in February last year in opposition to Japan’s strengthening of sanctions against North Korea in response to its nuclear test and other acts. At this stage, there are no clear prospects for reopening negotiations for the resolution of the abduction issue. How will the Government address this issue going forward?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Three years have passed since the agreement reached at the intergovernmental consultations between Japan and North Korea in Stockholm, in May 2014. It is deeply regrettable that we have not yet realized the return of the abduction victims to Japan and given that many years have passed since the abductions were perpetrated by North Korea we cannot afford to lose any time whatsoever. That is our basic stance. The abduction issue is a top priority for the Abe administration. We will continue to do our utmost to realize the return of all the abduction victims as soon as possible, based on the principles of dialogue and pressure, and action for action, while demanding that North Korea implement the agreement reached in Stockholm.

REPORTER: If I may change the subject, I understand that during his overseas visit, Prime Minister Abe met with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations. According to the Government of Japan, Prime Minister Abe stated the importance of implementing the agreement between Japan and the ROK on the issue of the comfort women, and Secretary-General Guterres expressed his support for the agreement and welcomed it. However, according to the UN side, no mention of the agreement was made during the meeting. Could you please share the facts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The facts are as announced by the Japanese side.

REPORTER: If I may follow up, the UN side has said that the agreement was not mentioned. How do you think this difference in perception arose?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Prime Minister Abe very clearly pointed out the importance of implementing the Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women issue. Secretary-General Guterres expressed his support and welcomed the agreement. Prime Minister Abe also described Japan’s efforts towards ratifying the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. In this regard, Secretary-General Guterres explained that a Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council operates as an individual expert independent from the United Nations and that their assertions do not necessarily reflect the consensus view of the United Nations. That is what Japan announced.

REPORTER: I would like to return to the subject of North Korea. North Korea has launched missiles three weeks in a row. This is becoming a normal occurrence. Against this background, it could be concluded that North Korea is confident that no military action will be taken against it right now. After the most recent launch, Japan condemned North Korea in the strongest terms. If a similar occurrence takes place, how will Japan protest it? Some have pointed out that under the current approach, we have reached an impasse. What is your view?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I explained earlier, at this point in time, North Korea is completely ignoring the resolutions and sanctions of the UNSC. At this stage, I think the UNSC must hold careful discussions on what would constitute an effective response, including additional sanctions. For now, the UNSC must respond thoroughly, including ensuring that all countries fully implement the current UN sanction measures and effectively utilizing the relevant sanctions committee.

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