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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 1, 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 Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga
(There was a statement on the overview of the Cabinet meeting.)



REPORTER: I have a question about North Korea. The Government is aiming to achieve the adoption of an additional United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution and it seems to be seeking to engage in consultations with the United States and other countries to include constraints on oil supplies as one of the key components. What is the Government’s view on the necessity of limiting supplies of oil to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, the Government is aware that crude oil and oil products are being supplied to North Korea by China and Russia, and we recognize that such moves by China and Russia have a major influence on the North Korean issues faced by the international community. As we seek to achieve a new UNSC resolution, the Government recognizes that constraining oil supplies would be an extremely effective means by which to place further pressure on North Korea, towards resolving issues of concern in a comprehensive manner. From that perspective, we are diligently finalizing our response. In any event, as we consider the most effective means of imposing measures relating to North Korea’s external economic relations overall, one of the options for trade restrictions is to include crude oil and oil products, which are major trade items for North Korea. There are several effective options available, including those relating to oil supply, and we will make a thorough response.

REPORTER: What is your view on the urgency of additional sanctions, including measures to restrict the supply of oil in order to force North Korea to change its current policies?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The recently adopted UNSC resolution included a ban on the import of coal from North Korea. Coal accounts for approximately one-third of the country’s total trade. It will be important to ensure that the measures that have already been adopted are swiftly and surely implemented.

REPORTER: I think that restrictions on the supply of oil would be different to a total ban. Do you think that restrictions rather than a ban would be a more amenable option to China and Russia, who seem to have some reservations?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Both China and Russia have a great deal of influence on North Korea. However, both China and Russia approved the extremely strong wording of the UNSC Presidential Statement, which condemned the repeated provocative actions by North Korea. I believe that both countries fully understand the necessity of stepping up measures against North Korea in comparison to the past.


REPORTER: I have a question about sanctions against North Korea. Although China and Russia are condemning North Korea’s actions, they are apparently extremely reluctant to impose oil supply restrictions. Realistically, for instance, yesterday fighter jets of the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) engaged in joint exercises with U.S. strategic bombers in Kitakyushu. I understand that one of the major means of placing pressure on North Korea is under the United States’ nuclear umbrella, including the implementation of joint exercises. Meanwhile, there is hardly any news about a pipeline for dialogue with North Korea and whether such diplomatic channels are still functioning, as they were at the time of the Koizumi administration. How is the current administration approaching North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The Government is engaged in various responses.

REPORTER: I asked a similar question yesterday, but during the United States-Republic of Korea (ROK) joint exercises an operation has been practiced for two weeks that seeks to decapitate the North Korean leadership of Chairman Kim. I would like to ask once again whether the Government of Japan is calling for dialogue in a way that would help to reduce tensions.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The greatest duty of the Government is to protect the lives and properties of the people of Japan.

REPORTER: You did not respond to my question about whether the Government’s response involves dialogue. Could you respond to that point?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Due to the nature of the matter I would like to refrain from commenting.

REPORTER: Yesterday you stated that due to the nature of the matter you would like to refrain from commenting on the matter of the Prime Minister staying at the Official Residence of the Prime Minister on nights prior to missile launches, and that the Government has a comprehensive structure in place to respond to any situation. It could be inferred that the Government had some kind of information about the launch from the night before. What I would like to ask again is why, if the Government had information on the missile launch, did it not inform the people in advance? Was this because it was considered that the situation was safe or that no issues would arise?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It is North Korea that is launching missiles in contravention of international law and relevant UNSC resolutions, repeatedly engaging in provocative actions. In response to such actions, the mission of the Government is to protect the safety and security of the people to the maximum extent. It is also our obligation to do so. Given the nature of this matter I think it is only natural for me to refrain from commenting in the forum of this press conference on the detailed inner workings of our response.

REPORTER: I did not want to cause you any irritation in my question. Given that on the day of the launch even though the J-ALERT alarm sounded at 6:02 a.m., there was insufficient time for people to seek refuge. So, what I am asking is whether, based on information available the night before, the Government could have informed the public if there was a high possibility of a missile falling on Japan’s territory or in territorial waters, or whether, in relation to sharing information with the United States and the ROK, it was difficult to inform the public, even if information suggested a dangerous situation. Looking at the reports on this matter what concerns me is the basis on which the Government makes a decision on what information to provide and why it was not provided on the night before the launch.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I have responded on this matter on several occasions. It is the Government’s duty to make a response from the perspective of what is of greatest importance to ensure that the lives, properties and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan are protected. We have a comprehensive structure in place.

REPORTER: So are we to understand that because of a decision on the evening before the launch that there was probably no danger, action was only taken once the J-ALERT alarm sounded?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It seems as if you are assuming that North Korea has only good intentions, but the fact of the matter is that there is no knowing how it will act. It has engaged in countless provocations and conducted illegal actions that show blatant disregard for UNSC resolutions. It is the Government’s duty, therefore, to take every response against North Korea to protect the safety and security of the people. We are working diligently on that basis. That is all.

REPORTER: I am not saying that the Government’s response to North Korea is the problem. What I am asking is why no information was provided the night before the launch. It sounds to me as if there was no reporting on the launch until the J-ALERT alarm sounded because the Government made a decision that there would be no danger of injury or damage to people’s lives and properties.

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I do not think it is necessary to respond to your question. We are fulfilling our greatest duty of protecting the safety and security of the people. It should be patently obvious that North Korea is not a country that is inclined to change its own actions, given that it launched a missile over Japan without any prior warning. It is therefore natural that we should take all possible response measures.

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