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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 15, 2017 (PM)

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 Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga

It seems that at approximately 6:57 AM today, North Korea launched a ballistic missile in the east-northeasterly direction from the proximity of its western coast. It is presumed that the missile flew over a region of Hokkaido from approximately 7:04 AM to 7:06 AM, and at approximately 7:16 AM fell in the Pacific Ocean 2,200 km east of Cape Erimo, not 2,000 km as I mentioned earlier. No debris have been confirmed on or near Japan’s territories, and no information has been confirmed of damage to aircraft or vessels. No destruction measures were implemented by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). The Government is continuing to check through relevant agencies whether anything has fallen on or near Japan’s territories. North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan, following on from the launch on August 29, represents a serious provocative act that unilaterally further heightens the tension in the region. Furthermore, causing the missile to land in these waters without any advance notice represents an extremely problematic act from the viewpoint of ensuring the safety of aircraft and vessels. At approximately 8 AM this morning, the National Security Council (NSC) was convened, and discussions were held on information gathering and Japan’s response. In the NSC, the six items of instruction from the Prime Minister were reconfirmed. It was also confirmed that the Government will continue to strongly urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint and carry out a resolute response including further responses by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), while further strengthening our cooperation and collaboration with the international community. In response to today’s ballistic missile launch by North Korea, the Government immediately lodged a severe protest against North Korea through the Beijing “embassy” channel, conveyed the strong indignation of the Japanese people, and condemned North Korea in the strongest terms. In addition, we are working with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to request an emergency meeting of the UNSC. In the NSC meeting that was just held, the statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary was confirmed as has been distributed to you. In any case, we are making every effort to collect and analyze information, and will disseminate new information to the people. The Government will cooperate closely with relevant countries including the United States and the ROK, and take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the people with a sense of urgency. I would like to ask everyone to remain calm and continue on with their daily lives as usual.


REPORTER: Has any progress been made in your analysis of the type of missile, its flight distance, altitude, and trajectory?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the missile is estimated to have flown 3,700 km, and reached a maximum altitude of approximately 800 km. Our understanding is that its altitude was not of a special trajectory, such as a lofted trajectory. Details, such as the type of ballistic missile, continue to be under analysis.

REPORTER: In that case, based on the flight distance and other factors, do you consider it highly possible that it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We believe that is not necessarily the case. The analysis is still ongoing.

REPORTER: What is your outlook on the possibility of the United States taking military action in response to today’s missile launch?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, it is the Government’s fundamental view that North Korea shall be compelled to change its policy by putting greater pressure on North Korea. At the United Nations, which has just unanimously adopted a statement with a severe position to North Korea by the international community, including China and Russia. I would like to refrain from making comments based on conjuncture regarding the future actions of the United States. Japan highly values the U.S. policy and stance of keeping all options on the table. In any event, Japan and the United States are closely collaborating and communicating with each other at a variety of levels, including between our leaders, and are coordinating our policies for North Korea.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister returned to Japan a short while ago. Will he be holding telephone talks with relevant countries such as the United States and the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Japan, the United States, and the ROK are maintaining close communication and collaboration at a variety of levels including the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Defense Minister levels. At this point in time, nothing has been decided concerning a telephone talk between the leaders.

REPORTER: Does the Government view that today’s missile launch was an act to protest against the new UNSC resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, the missile launch has just taken place. We will collect a wide range of information, and based on that information, analyze North Korea’s intentions and objectives and prepare for the next incident in close cooperation with the relevant countries.

REPORTER: The ROK Armed Forces immediately began missile launch exercises in response to the ballistic missile launch by North Korea. With the tension rising over the situation on the Korean Peninsula, what responses do you intend to carry out, such as issuing alerts to Japanese nationals or travelers in the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Alerts to travelers and other such measures are already being taken as part of our usual response. Therefore, the Government is always carrying out the necessary preparations and giving considerations by envisioning scenarios where the protection and evacuation of Japanese nationals in the ROK become necessary.

REPORTER: I have a related question. In response to today’s missile launch, the United States has announced that it is considering its own sanctions. Will the Government of Japan also be considering its own sanctions?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, while analyzing the intentions and objectives of today’s missile launch, we will consider a wide range of responses in collaboration with the United States and the ROK, as well as countries such as China and Russia.

REPORTER: To what degree was the Government aware of the signs of today’s missile launch beforehand?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are carrying out maximum monitoring and surveillance at all times, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, especially with regard to the provocative acts of North Korea. I would like to add that we will continue to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the people.

REPORTER: Today the missile flew over Hokkaido, taking the same flight route as last month. What is the Government’s analysis of North Korea’s aim in taking the same route?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: We are still only beginning to conduct analysis of this while gathering information.

REPORTER: With a missile flying over Hokkaido again, a great deal of anxiety is spreading among the people of Hokkaido. What sort of readiness did the Government have in Hokkaido, such as preparations to intercept a missile in the event that it had fallen?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Regarding the missile launched today, the SDF was fully aware and was tracking the missile from immediately after its launch until it fell. As no damage from a missile falling on Japan’s territories was envisioned, we did not conduct an intercept. As I have stated moments ago, the Government is taking all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of the people. Additionally, information about the missile’s launch and flight over Japan was shared with the people through the J-ALERT system. In any case, we remain fully prepared by maintaining an advanced monitoring and surveillance structure.

REPORTER: You mentioned earlier that the missile was not necessarily an ICBM. In that case could it be said that it was more likely a medium-range missile?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, we are currently collecting and analyzing information, including that point.

REPORTER: North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons and missiles without ceasing its provocative acts, even under strong pressure, such as the new UNSC sanctions resolution. Do you think the current situation can be overcome by continuing to apply strong pressure on North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, in regard to the pressure on North Korea, we believe the recently adopted UNSC resolution is an extremely effective resolution. It is critical that these effective measures are implemented in accordance with the resolution. There is also a body in the United Nations that monitors their implementation. We view that through such agencies it is possible to change North Korea’s policy if each country implements the sanctions.

REPORTER: How do you view the possibility of North Korea engaging in even further provocative acts?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is constantly striving to collect and analyze information on the nuclear and missile developments in North Korea with the greatest concern. Furthermore, while thoroughly analyzing this information, we are taking all possible measures. Due to the nature of the matter, however, I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.

REPORTER: The NSC meeting was held while the Prime Minister was returning to Japan from his overseas visit. I believe the Minister of Defense also did not attend the meeting. In comparison to the regular meetings of the four ministers, were there any points that were lacking, or did this undermine the response in any way? Are there any plans to hold a second NSC meeting today?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: While the Prime Minister was aboard the government plane on his way back to Japan, we were able to immediately contact the Prime Minister, receive his instructions, and carry out a response. The meeting was held with the ministers coordinating with each other under Acting Prime Minister Aso. The Minister of Defense directed a parliamentary vice-minister to attend in his place due to a telephone talk. In that sense I view that the NSC meeting was steadily carried out. I believe the Prime Minister is now returning to Japan. The Prime Minister is expected to arrive in Japan at approximately 9:30 AM. We hope to hold another NSC meeting after the Prime Minister returns.

REPORTER: My question is repetitive, but various media are reporting that today’s missile was the same model as the previous missile, the Hwasong-12 missile. What is the Government’s analysis?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any case, information is being collected and analyzed under the guidance of experts.

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