(* This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)

Press Conference by Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Ryuji YAMANE

Date: Friday, April 13, 2012, 2:15 p.m.
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks- Situation in North Korea("Satellite Launch")
  2. Questions concerning Situation in North Korea("Satellite Launch")

I. Opening Remarks- Situation in North Korea("Satellite Launch")

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: Although the launch appears to have failed, with the flying object falling into the ocean, the launch itself is an act that undermines the peace and stability of the region including Japan. The launch is also a violation of the series of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR), including UNSCR 1695, 1718, and 1874, especially the UNSCR 1874, which, among others, demands North Korea not to conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology. Therefore Japan has been strongly urging North Korea to exercise restraint and not to conduct a launch. It is highly regrettable that, despite all these, North Korea forcibly conducted the launch and we deplore it. We lodged our strong protest against North Korea immediately after the launch through our embassy in Beijing.
In response to the development, Japan will take further actions in coordination with countries concerned, namely the United States, Republic of Korea, China and Russia. I had a telephone conference with Ambassador Roos of the United States. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation of the smooth coordination between Japan and the United States since around the launch. I explained Japan's position on our future response and confirmed that we would continue to closely coordinate each other.
Foreign Minister Gemba had also been closely exchanging views with countries concerned until Thursday 12th and, after arriving at Los Angeles Airport, he is having a telephone conference with his counterparts, starting from ROK.
With regard to the response at the United Nations Security Council, in reaction to the launch, Ambassador Nishida sent a letter requesting a prompt meeting of UN Security Council to the permanent envoy of the United States, which is the current chair. I understand that a UNSCR meeting is going to be held at 11:00 pm on Friday 13th JST (10:00 am on Friday 13th EST).
Japan will continue to work on the United States, which is the UNSCR chair, and other countries concerned, so that the UNSCR will take appropriate actions in reaction to this launch, which is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. We will further promote coordination with relevant parties including the United States, Republic of Korea, China and Russia, and the international community.

II. Questions concerning Situation in North Korea("Satellite Launch")

Yoshioka, NHK: I have two questions. With regard to the response at the UNSCR, more specifically, what form and content will Japan pursue? In relation to China, I assume that you are already contacting at a working level. What are China's responses, including Japan's position that the act violates UNSC resolutions?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: As you are aware, there was a G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting. In that forum, as North Korea made preparations for the launch, Japan took lead in the discussion in preparation of a possible launch, with content of criticizing North Korea. G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting Chair's Statement, although issued before the launch, on the issue of the launch of a missile by North Korea, confirmed that the member countries shared the view that the launch would be a clear violation of UNSC resolutions. The ministers' meeting had confirmed beforehand that it demanded North Korea not to launch. I understand that Minister Gemba explained Japan's position in detail to other countries' leaders and gained understanding.
In response to your question regarding China, with China, ROK, Russia, and obviously the U.S., we are coordinating at a working level. I also understand that currently in Los Angeles the Minister is having various discussions with ROK. You have asked how we are working on China; we are of course discussing at a working level, and we are now making effort so that a conversation at a ministerial level can be held.
As for your question about China, we are closely coordinating with not only China but also the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the U.S. obviously, even at the technical level. Moreover, perhaps now in Los Angeles, Minister Gemba is exchanging views with the Republic of Korea. Regarding the question of how we work on China, we are discussing this issue even at the technical level. Also, we are now making diplomatic efforts to hold a meeting between the Foreign Ministers.

Yoshioka, NHK: How about China's response?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: Since it is too early to tell you about it clearly, I would like to refrain from commenting on it.

Sugimoto, Sankei Shimbun: When you made a strong protest against North Korea, what kind of phrases did you use? Also, while you mentioned that a teleconference with the Republic of Korea was being held in Los Angeles, could you tell us with which countries else teleconferences are going to be held in Los Angeles?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: Regarding the latter part of your question, the teleconference with the Republic of Korea in Los Angeles has been confirmed. Besides that, we are now contacting China and Russia. However, since an international conference is going to be held in Moscow right now, it is difficult to contact foreign ministers who are directly in charge of the issue. Also, there is an issue of time difference. The responsible authority is now making efforts to contact them.
Although I do not have detailed information about the contents of protest made by the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, we delivered our message focusing on that it clearly violates the UN Security Council Resolution.

Matsumura, Asahi Shimbun: I have basic questions. Could you tell us the time when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the launch, and the route through which it confirmed the launch? Also I would like to know under what circumstances it concluded that it was a failure, and the following responses.

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: I would like to answer your question according to the timeline. Around 7:50am, the head office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the first report as unconfirmed information, from the U.S. side through our Embassy in the U.S. We were already having a meeting in my room, the room of Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister. We were having a meeting among relevant officials from 7:45am. In the wake of this event, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened the first meeting of the emergency response headquarters at 8:01am.

Matsumura, Asahi Shimbun: On what basis did you conclude that the launch failed?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms it based on information from the Ministry of Defense and the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not in the position to confirm it by itself.

Matsumura, Asahi Shimbun: What do you think of the evaluation that the launch was a failure? It has been said that the tension will be further intensified as North Korea is further pushed into a corner in the wake of this event. How do you evaluate such a view? Also, how do you view the impact on the Kim Jong-un regime?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: North Korea itself admitted that it was a failure, and announced it in public. As I think that the cause of the failure will be announced later, we will closely watch its contents. After it is announced, various facts should be turned out concomitantly. We would like to closely watch it including that aspect.

Takahashi, Hokkaido Shimbun: North Korea admitted in its statement that the missile launch was failed. What is your response on that? I think that one of the ultimate objectives of Japan's diplomatic efforts toward North Korea is the resolution of the issue of the abductions of Japanese Citizens by North Korea. What do you think is the effect of this launch on the resolution of the issue of the abductions?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: With regard to the announcement by North Korea on the failure, we took note that North Korea's response was different from the one at the last launch. About your question on the issue of the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, it is referred to in the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting Chair's Statement as follows: "The Ministers expressed concern over human rights violations in the DPRK, highlighted the importance of improved inter-Korean relations, and emphasized the need to address humanitarian issues, including abductions and family reunions." I understand that you asked what is my response on the failure of the launch. While gathering various information, I would like to pay close attention to the reason of failure this time and accompanying information, as well as how it would affect the issue of abductions.

Yoshioka, NHK: I think that the Government of Japan has been internally discussing how to work on the UN before and after the launch. Could you tell us your view on what impact will be given by the failure of the launch on the discussion in the UN Security Council?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: Countries concerned issued their statement respectively. We should analyze those statements and pay attention to the discussion in the UN Security Council. There may be a UNSC resolution, or may be not: we are yet to know.
As I mentioned earlier, our thoughts have already been expressed in the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting and Foreign Minister Gemba will tell his thought in the telephone conferences. I hope that it will have a good effect.

Yoshioka, NHK: Does Japan argue that the Security Council should increase the sanction against North Korea in the Security Council?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: We are not the permanent member of the Security Council, neither a non-permanent member there. Therefore we cannot say exactly, though you asked about concrete measures. We have suggested our thought, and now we expect what will come out in the future.

Nishikawa, TBS: The failure of this time, the MOFA have prepared to the situation in advance, are you keeping this emergency arrangements until the Minister Gemba comes back tomorrow? Or will you change the entire arrangements regarding the failure of this time?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: We will maintain emergency response headquarters from now on, too.

Nishikawa, TBS: Will it be any change after the minister comes back?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: Now the minister is talking in the limited time in waiting for a transit, but we have been acting with the instruction from the minister, and it will be the same from now on.

Matsumura, Asahi Shimbun: Previously the agreement between the United States and North Korea has been proceeded, it was expected that this agreement will develop to the six party talks further to the bilateral discussion between Japan and North Korea. However the launch of missile this time made it difficult to hold the bilateral talk between the two, previously Japan expected. Is there any perspective on the relationship with North Korea?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: Actually we cannot proceed only bilaterally between Japan and North Korea, we have to watch the discussion at the Security Council carefully and we will collect the information. Although we would like to proceed the bilateral talk, it surely takes a certain time to realize it.

Yoshioka, NHK: Unfortunately the government who had the information from the United States' satellite actually did not provide the information to the public immediately. When comparing to the other countries such as the United States and Korea, it was too late to disclose the information. How can you refute this critic?

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Yamane: As the Chief Cabinet Secretary has already told in the press conference, as to how we received information and how we passed it on to the public, we need to investigate what was appropriate or not. I suppose that the government will verify if the entire process was appropriate or not from now.

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