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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

January 25, 2018 (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 Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]



REPORTER: Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released photos of a North Korean-flagged vessel conducting offshore ship-to-ship transfer of cargo in order to smuggle oil and other items. The vessel was suspected to be evading sanctions. I assume that the Government has been taking some kind of response. Can you please tell us your views on this matter and how the Government is responding?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NISHIMURA: As we have explained, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles now poses a grave and imminent threat. Under such circumstances, in order to compel North Korea to change its policies, the international community is working in solidarity to put maximum pressure on North Korea, including United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2397 adopted in December 2017. Our understanding is that North Korea has attempted so-called offshore ship-to-ship transfer trading, precisely because the sanctions are manifesting their effects, making it difficult for North Korea to trade crude oil products including oil through normal trade channels. Obviously trading through offshore ship-to-ship transfers is a violation of UNSC resolutions. In order to deter North Korea from exploiting “loopholes,” the Government is strengthening its efforts to ensure the effectiveness of UNSC resolutions. Specifically, as part of the patrol activities that the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) implements regularly, we are collecting information on vessels which are suspected to violate UNSC resolutions. In addition, as part of the monitoring and surveillance activities that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) also implement regularly, we are collecting information on vessels suspected of violating UNSC resolutions. We believe these activities carried out by the JCG and the SDF to collect and share relevant information contribute to further deterring North Korea from conducting acts in violation of the UNSC resolutions. We released the photos of the vessel yesterday. As the Government detected such activities suspected to be in violation of UNSC resolutions, we have notified the UNSC Sanctions Committee on North Korea. We consider that this could result in additional measures in accordance with UNSC resolutions. With regard to efforts expected to strengthen UNSC resolutions, Prime Minister Abe spoke with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands yesterday, as the Netherlands currently chairs the Sanctions Committee.

REPORTER: Prime Minister Abe intends to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games and hold a summit meeting with President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK). According to some media reports, the Prime Minister is also considering holding a Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit-level meeting that is also attended by Vice President Pence on this occasion. What is the current status of the considerations? If a trilateral meeting takes place, what significance will the meeting have on the situation in North Korea, as well as on the implementation of the Japan-ROK agreement on the comfort women issue?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NISHIMURA: Circumstances permitting, Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to visit the ROK and attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games that is scheduled to be held on February 9. Needless to say, the Olympic Games are a festival of peace and sport. Japan will host the Tokyo Games two years from now in 2020. Based on our hopes to contribute to the success of the Pyeongchang Games in Asia, it was decided that the Prime Minister would attend the opening ceremony. If Prime Minister Abe’s visit is materialized, the Prime Minister is planned to offer encouragement to Japanese athletes, and at the same time, hold a Japan-ROK summit meeting with President Moon. If a Japan-ROK summit meeting is held, it is expected that its position regarding the North Korean issues and the comfort women issue would be conveyed to the ROK. The detailed itinerary related to the visit to the ROK, including the summit meeting, is now being arranged. In any event, concerted efforts between Japan and ROK as well as among Japan, the U.S. and the ROK are critical in dealing with North Korea. The detailed itinerary, including these matters, is currently being arranged.


REPORTER: I have one last question. It is reported that the destroyer Izumo would be converted into an aircraft carrier. Tokyo Shimbun has reported that the Government of Japan anticipates the joint use of Izumo by Japan and the United States. Under the exchanged notes between Prime Minister Yoshida and Secretary of State Acheson, Japan has a duty to provide support to U.S. Forces aircraft dispatched from Izumo, on a sortie to the Korean Peninsula to support the UN Command. For this reason, Japan is unable to refuse this sortie. The Government has repeatedly stated that it would put maximum pressure on North Korea in response to its development of not only missiles but also nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, it has been suggested that if the United States goes forward with a preemptive attack, the Government would be unable to refuse its participation in this war. Can you please share the Government’s view regarding this matter?

DEPUTY CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY NISHIMURA: Our basic view is that,  based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance, the Government will fully ensure the safety of the Japanese people by a division of roles between Japan and the United States, and by collaborating with the United States wherever possible within the scope of our Constitution as well as our laws and ordinances. We will protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the Japanese people in any situation.


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