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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 15, 2017 (AM)

If you can not view the video,click here(Japanese Government Internet TV)
Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Remarks
(There were statements on the overview of the Cabinet meeting.)


REPORTER: I would like to ask a question related to North Korea’s missiles. A statement was also made by the Minister of Defense, but as to the type of the recently launched missile, do you consider there to be a high possibility that it was a Hwasong-12 model mid-range missile and not an ICBM?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding the matter you have pointed out, based on the range and other factors, the Ministry of Defense considers it possible that the recently launched ballistic missile is the same mid-range ballistic missile launched on August 29, 2017. In any case, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive, specialized analysis based on the information at hand, and I have received a report that detailed analysis is underway. Therefore, as the Chief Cabinet Secretary I would like to refrain from making any concrete statements.

REPORTER: Going forward, how do you view the possibility of a Hwasong-14 model ICBM being launched?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is monitoring the movements of North Korea with the maximum degree of concern. We are addressing the situation with a sense of vigilance.

REPORTER: Information was disseminated through the J-ALERT system in response to the recent launch. Was there any report of trouble or other issues from the relevant municipalities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: At this time, I have not received any reports of issues occurring during the dissemination of information to local residents of the municipalities that use the J-ALERT system.

REPORTER: In relation to North Korea, I would like to ask about Japan’s missile defense system. Following on from the missile launch on August 29, today another missile passed through the airspace over Hokkaido. I believe there are many people who are concerned by this. Going forward, how will the Government respond to ease their concerns?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is fully prepared to protect the lives and properties of the people under any circumstances, and will maintain our advanced monitoring and surveillance structure. As an example, regarding today’s missile launch, the Self-Defense Forces fully detected and tracked the missile from immediately after its launch until it landed. Furthermore, as we anticipated that no damage would occur to Japan’s territories from the recent launch, no interception was carried out. In this way, we have firmly established a continuous system for fully detecting and tracking missiles from immediately after their launch until their landing, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are taking measures with a sense of responsibility and have made all necessary preparations to ensure the safety and security of the people.

REPORTER: I believe that under current domestic law, Japan cannot intercept a missile unless it has the possibility of landing in Japanese territory. Going forward, are you considering revising the relevant legislation to allow missile interception under certain cases, such as the possibility of a missile landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, or if the missile passes through the airspace over the Japanese archipelago?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: If there were anything infringing upon the safety or peace of mind of the people, we would have to consider how to address it. However, at the current time, the Government is taking measures under the existing system with a sense of responsibility to ensure the safety and peace of mind of the people.

REPORTER: If I may repeat myself somewhat, I believe there is a limit to how the Government can respond under current domestic law. Some have pointed out that this situation, whereby missiles are repeatedly launched through Japan’s airspace, indicates that there may be a problem with the state of Japan as a sovereign nation. What are the Government’s thoughts on that point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Through the recent enactment of the Legislation for Peace and Security and the enactment of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, Japan has established a system that enables us to conduct various responses extremely smoothly, including cooperating with our ally the United States. Therefore, the Government believes that we can fully ensure the safety and peace of mind of the people under the current legislation.

REPORTER: Can you confirm if there is any information to suggest that the recent missile launch resulted in any damage within Japan or debris?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have received a report that there was absolutely nothing of the sort.

REPORTER: The recent missile, and the missile on August 29, were launched in the same direction. How much progress has been made in analyzing North Korea’s missile capabilities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Experts are analyzing today’s launch, including the points you have just mentioned.

REPORTER: The recent missile had a longer flight path than the previous missile. What is your current view regarding the possibility that North Korea has improved its capabilities?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As I have just stated, information is being collected and analyzed on a wide range of matters, including this most recent act of provocation by North Korea. However, having conducted this many missile launches, I believe North Korea will surely have accumulated a certain level of knowledge.

REPORTER: What is the state of arrangements for telephone conversations between the Prime Minister and the leaders of various countries?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, since the recent incident occurred, we have maintained close Japan-U.S. and Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation at a range of levels, including the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Minister of Defense. This morning, telephone talks were held between the Foreign Ministers of Japan and the United States, between the Defense Ministers of Japan and the United States, and between the Foreign Ministers of Japan and the ROK. We are thus responding to the situation with close Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation. As for the Prime Minister, no telephone talks have yet been decided.

REPORTER: I have a related question. The Prime Minister will attend the United Nations General Assembly next week. How will Japan take urge other countries to take action?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding North Korea’s repeated acts of provocation that it has carried out in defiance of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and also international law, we believe it is crucial to implement the extremely strict resolution that was recently unanimously adopted by the UNSC. In particular, Japan intends to urge countries such as China and Russia, which have influence over North Korea, to take action.

REPORTER: Japan, the United States and the ROK are said to have requested an emergency meeting of the UNSC. What sort of response does Japan intend to request in the emergency meeting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The recently adopted UNSC resolution contains extremely strict measures. Despite this, North Korea carried out its recent missile launch in violation of international law, and made an enemy of the international community, including our three countries. In response to this, under the basic policy of increasing pressure on North Korea and making the country change its policies, the recently adopted resolution contains extremely strict measures and, if implemented, would eliminate approximately 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign currency income provided through exports. We therefore consider it important to urge each country to move to implement the resolution as quickly as possible.

REPORTER: While participating in a symposium on their recent visit to Washington D.C., members of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN) strongly requested that North Korea be re-designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. From the viewpoint of maintaining close cooperation between Japan and the United States, what is your view on the United States re-designating North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, regarding the designation of North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism by the United States, Japan considers it to be an issue pertaining to the interpretation and application of U.S. domestic law, and one that will be ultimately decided by the U.S. administration. The Government will continue to cooperate closely with the United States and do everything it can to resolve the abduction issue.

REPORTER: I believe the United States designated North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1998, but a subsequent U.S. administration lifted the designation in 2008 in exchange for North Korea’s submission of a plan to disable its nuclear facilities. What is the Government’s analysis of the effect of the designation, and its subsequent lifting?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the effect of the designation of North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and that of lifting the designation are wholly a matters of the interpretation and application of United States domestic law, and I would therefore like to refrain from making a comment. What I will say is that I am aware that there are a wide range of opinions and analyses on the subject. In that context, we will continue to closely cooperate with the Trump administration to identify the most effective ways of increasing pressure on North Korea to make it change its policies and actions. It is also a fact that the Trump administration is currently implementing extremely strict independent sanctions against North Korea.


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