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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

September 4, 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]


REPORTER: I have a question concerning the Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) summit telephone talk that started a short while age. In the previous talk a few days ago the two leaders confirmed that Japan, the United States and the ROK will work together to put further pressure on North Korea, so what is the aim of today’s telephone talk?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The summit telephone talk today is intended to further deepen Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation, in light of North Korea’s nuclear test and other developments.

REPORTER: I have a related question. Will the telephone talk also cover the matter of approaching China and Russia, with a view to achieving another UNSC resolution on sanctions against North Korea, including a ban on exports of oil to the country?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: As the telephone talk is currently underway I would like to refrain from speculating about what the two leaders are discussing.

REPORTER: President Trump of the United States has expressed skepticism about the ROK’s efforts to seek dialogue with North Korea. As Japan, the United States and the ROK work together, what do you think is the message that will be sent out from the Japan-ROK summit telephone talk and what is the role that Japan should play within the framework of Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I think Japan, the United States and the ROK are engaged in close cooperation.

REPORTER: Following yesterday’s nuclear test the Prime Minister held a summit telephone talk not just with the United States, but also with Russia last night. It is unusual for leader-level talks with Russia to take place at such a time, so can I ask how the Government evaluates the outcome of the talks?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, yesterday, commencing at 11:28 p.m. for approximately 15 minutes, Prime Minister Abe held a telephone talk with President Putin of Russia. The Prime Minister pointed out that North Korea’s decision to go ahead with a nuclear test on September 3 poses an unprecedented, grave and serious threat to the safety of Japan. Furthermore, the Prime Minister emphasized that it is important for the international community as a whole, including Japan and Russia, to exert the utmost pressure on North Korea, and that a new and powerful United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution is essential. In addition, the Prime Minister expressed the view that Russia plays an important role as a permanent member of the UNSC and he strongly encouraged Russia to address the situation constructively. The two leaders fully shared recognition of the severe situation, whereby outrageous actions by North Korea pose a serious threat. In addition, the two leaders agreed that they will also discuss issues concerning North Korea at this week’s Japan-Russia Summit Meeting in Vladivostok, and that Japan and Russia will continue to collaborate closely at various levels.

REPORTER: You have just noted that the two leaders fully shared recognition about the serious threat posed by North Korea. Is there a possibility that Russia will agree to a UNSC resolution to prohibit exports of oil to North Korea?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: In any event, in the process of further increasing pressure on North Korea in the UNSC, I would imagine that various perspectives will be examined when considering the most effective measures to take.

REPORTER: At the current point, what is the Government’s view on whether it is possible to completely encircle North Korea internationally, including China and Russia?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Whatever the case, Japan, the United States and the ROK will continue to cooperate and also work with China and Russia, which are countries that have influence on North Korea, as we seek to make North Korea change its actions.

REPORTER: With regard to the impact of radioactive materials on Japan, have any abnormal readings been detected?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, based on instructions from Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita, who chairs the Government’s Liaison Meetings for Radiological Countermeasures, the relevant Government authorities are currently implementing radiation surveys to assess any radiation impact on Japan. I have received a report that as of now, no abnormal changes have been recorded at any monitoring stations in Japan and neither has radiation been detected in any of the samples of atmospheric floating dust and atmospheric gas collected by Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) aircraft.

REPORTER: U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis has used extremely strong language to warn North Korea following its nuclear test, stating in a press conference that the United States is not looking for the total annihilation of North Korea, but has many options to do so. What is the view of the Government of Japan with regard to these comments?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I understand that United States Secretary of Defense Mattis stated that among the various options towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula the United States has multiple military options and that any threat to the United States or its allies will be met with a massive military response. The Government recognizes the necessity of the strong deterrence capability of the Japan-U.S. Alliance in order to ensure the defense of Japan and the peace and safety of the region. From this perspective, Japan highly values the Trump administration’s stance of keeping all options on the table. In the recent Japan-U.S. summit telephone talk, President Trump confirmed once again that the United States is with Japan 100 percent. That is also extremely important. We have a comprehensive structure in place that is capable of protecting the safety, security and peaceful daily lives of the people of Japan and ensures that we can respond to any situation.

REPORTER: What is the Government’s view on the possibility of the United States engaging in military action following the nuclear test?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: Firstly, what is naturally of the utmost importance is for Japan, the United States and the ROK to work together, involving not just China and Russia, but also the member states of the UNSC and also the entire international community in making every effort to place pressure on North Korea and compel it to change its policies. However, the Government welcomes President Trump’s statement that all options are on the table.

REPORTER: On Twitter President Trump has indicated that he is considering halting trade with countries that do business with North Korea. Was this comment mentioned in yesterday’s Japan-U.S. summit telephone talk?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: I would like to refrain from making any speculative comments about the U.S. President’s Twitter posts. I believe that the President’s comments reflect his recognition that the outrageous acts of North Korea cannot be overlooked and that it is essential for the international community to be strongly resolved to put stronger pressure on North Korea than ever before. In any event, it is necessary for the international community as a whole to put pressure on North Korea and therefore we will continue to work together with the United States, the ROK, and also China and Russia to consider the most effective actions that would strengthen pressure on North Korea and compel it to change its current policies and actions.

REPORTER: To date the Prime Minister has held summit telephone talks with the United States, the ROK and Russia, but as yet there has not been a summit telephone talk with China. Could you tell us the outlook for a summit talk with China?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The BRICS Summit is currently taking place in China and therefore I imagine that President Xi is fully occupied with that meeting. In any event, we will continue to work at various levels with all countries concerned on measures that will firmly strengthen pressure on North Korea.

REPORTER: China’s presence is extremely important, in view of the influence it has over North Korea. What is your view on the importance of China’s influence on North Korea and the importance of Japan-China cooperation towards the adoption of a new UNSC resolution?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: It goes without saying that Japan-China cooperation is of the utmost importance. It is evident from trade figures that China has a great deal of influence over North Korea. It was also highly significant that China voted for the previous UNSC resolution, which imposed a ban on coal imports from North Korea. It will be important to ensure that the resolution is fully implemented and for the international community as a whole to strengthen pressure on North Korea.

REPORTER: Given that U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, who has previously been more circumspect in his comments, has referred to the possibility of a massive military response to North Korea, could you tell us about the view of the Government concerning the possibility of issuing a travel advisory to refrain from travel to the ROK, or issuing an evacuation advisory or evacuation order to the approximately 60,000 Japanese nationals currently in the ROK?

CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY SUGA: The greatest duty of the Government is to make every effort to protect and rescue Japanese nationals in crisis situations overseas. The travel warnings issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs take into comprehensive account the political and social situations of each country, including security and law and order-related matters. At the current point it is not considered necessary to issue a travel warning for the ROK. We will continue to monitor the local situation and respond appropriately.

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