Press Conference by the Assistant Press Secretary, 12 April 2012
- Earthquake off the Coast of Indonesia
- Preparations for the Launch of a Missile Purported to be a Satellite by North Korea
- East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership Dialogue
- Questions concerning the possible launch of a missile by North Korea
- Question concerning the Japan-Mekong Summit in April
- Follow up question concerning the possible launch of a missile by North Korea
1. Earthquake off the Coast of Indonesia
Assistant Press Secretary Mr. Masaru Sato: Now I would like to begin today's Foreign Ministry press conference for international press. At the outset I have a few announcements to make.
Mr. Sato: First, last night in the area of the western coast of Sumatra Island, Indonesia, there was a large earthquake with the magnitude of 8.7. The Foreign Ministry, on behalf of the Japanese Government and the people of Japan, wishes to express our condolences and sympathy to those affected by this quake and we sincerely pray for the safety of the residents, including those living in the neighboring countries.
Japan already has conveyed to Indonesia that it is ready to provide whatever assistance which is needed for the disaster response.
2. Preparations for the Launch of a Missile Purported to be a Satellite by North Korea
Mr. Sato: Secondly, on North Korea. Yesterday the office titled "Emergency Headquarters within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in relation to the Launching of a Missile by North Korea Purported to be 'Satellite'", headed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs was established. We have been following closely the developments after the announcement of 16 March that North Korea would be launching a missile under the guise of a satellite. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a liaison office after that and has been carrying out information collection and other activities.
While Foreign Minister Gemba is now in Washington D.C. participating in a G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the headquarters will keep close contact with the minister, receive his instructions and prepare for every eventuality under the leadership of the Senior Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs.
Today is the first day of the announced period of the launch of the missile under the guise of a satellite. Although nothing happened in the morning, we will continue to be on full alert and we remain best prepared for any untoward event.
3. East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership Dialogue
Mr. Sato: Third, this is actually an upcoming event this weekend. The East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership Dialogue. On Sunday, April 15 the Government of Japan will hold the East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership Dialogue at "Hotel Nikko Tokyo" in Tokyo. Mr. Koichi Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesian President's Special Envoy for Climate Change, will co-chair the Dialogue. In this Dialogue, participants will discuss regional cooperation for low carbon growth in the East Asia Region (EAS), with the participation of EAS ministerial level officials and high level officials of related international organizations.
In order to address climate change effectively, it is very important to promote cooperation toward low carbon growth in the East Asia Region, which is of course the growth center of the world economy and the area with the largest greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
So, that is all I have at the outset, and I would like to open the floor for your questions.
4. Questions concerning the possible launch of a missile by North Korea
Q: I would like to ask a question about North Korea's plan to launch a satellite. North Korea is going to launch the satellite in a couple of days. If North Korea launches a satellite, what steps and measures the Japanese Government would do against this act?
Mr. Sato: As has been repeatedly explained by our leaders, after the announcement by North Korea, we have prepared ourselves to deal with any eventuality. We have deployed SM-3 s, which are Aegis-based, and also PAC-3s, which are land-based. Under normal circumstances, it is not probable that parts of missiles will actually fall on Japanese territory. Despite that, as the government has a responsibility to protect properties and lives of the Japanese or those living in Japan, we are on full alert and we are making these preparations.
Also, on a diplomatic front, now as I explained at the outset, the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting is now underway in Washington D.C. and Foreign Minister Gemba is meeting with his G8 counterparts. He has already met with the Chinese and Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers last weekend. So we are working on closely collaborating with the relevant countries. The message we have been sending is that if the missile under the guise of a satellite is actually launched, this would be a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Also the missile development is a real, actual threat to peace and stability of the region, including Japan. It has been working very hard to strongly urge North Korea to restrain itself.
As for your question on the future steps, that really depends on how things will play out but the important thing and what I can share with you now is that we need to continue to work until the last minute so that North Korea will not make the launch, and will restrain itself. In the case of an actual launch being made, however, we would need to continue to collaborate with the relevant countries. Also the meeting at Washington D.C. now is an important occasion where such kind of diplomatic efforts should be made. This is something I can share with you right now.
Q: Could you tell us some concrete steps, for example, new additional embargos or something against North Korea?
Mr. Sato: Actually we are not at the stage to share with you what the next government step will be. What is important now is to send North Korea a clear message that this would be a clear violation of the international rules and its obligations. They need to honor their obligations. Also it is the consensus of the international community represented by G8 that this would be a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, not only that but also that North Korea needs to restrain itself.
As a matter of fact, just before I came to this room, I checked with read-outs on the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. If I can take a moment to share with you what he said, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, during the first day of the G8 Meeting, explained that the launch of a missile by DPRK would be feared to damage the peace and stability of the region. If carried out, it would be a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
Second, he stated that it is extremely important to continue strongly urging North Korea to not to launch it. Actually, these two positions have obtained support from G8 foreign ministers. Third, the G8 foreign ministers shared the recognition that it is very important to collaborate among G8 foreign ministers including their joint response in the case of the actual launch having been made. Also he said that the G8 foreign ministers had discussed possible response at the United Nations Security Council. This is kind of where we stand right now in the context of G8 foreign minister meetings.
Also you may remember that our similar diplomatic efforts were made on the occasion of the China-Republic of Korea-Japan, trilateral foreign ministers meeting in China last week.
Q: In the talks between Mr. Gemba and US State's Hillary Clinton, the two sides said that they will bring North Korea to the UN Security Council. Do you think one new resolution would be issued against North Korea or do you think it will be refused by China?
Mr. Sato: You mean by whom? The resolution by the United Nations Security Council?
Mr. Sato: Actually that relates to our next step, but I would like to refrain from prejudging that kind of hypothetical question. With regard to the Japan-US foreign ministers meeting you just mentioned, Foreign Minister Gemba discussed with Secretary Clinton possible responses and explained to her that if the launch of the missile by DPRK indeed happens, he fears that the strenuous efforts made by the US in order to formulate a roadmap for bilateral dialogue between North Korea and the United States would be damaged. The Foreign Minister also explained that compared to the situation in the year 2009, things are different and that if North Korea launches the missile, that would be a clearer violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions. He also explained that the global community will need to appropriately respond to this repeated violation by DPRK. On these points, the United States and Japan share recognition of the situation, and concurred that Japan and the United States would continue to closely cooperate with each other, while seeking cooperation from other relevant countries including China and Russia.
5. Question concerning the Japan-Mekong Summit in April
Q: I know that later this month Japan will organize the Japan-Mekong Summit and which issues will Japan bring to the summit?
Mr. Sato: Actually on the Japan-Mekong Summit I think it was already announced that on 21 April, Japan will host this summit. Leaders from the Mekong regions including Vietnam will be participating. The salient points or possible agendas are something about which I am not ready to share with you now but if I remember correctly last year's ASEAN Summit meeting in Bali, Prime Minister Noda met with his counterparts in the Mekong region; Thailand, and Myanmar, among others and touched upon this summit. Our perspective is that this will be a good occasion for demonstrating our ties between Japan and the Mekong regions, especially because Myanmar is now opening up its country and trying to transform itself to a more democratic one. This is going to be a very good occasion where we as friends in the region mutually support each other's efforts in the region, for example, including addressing the issue of development, democratization and economic reform.
6. Follow up question concerning the possible launch of a missile by North Korea
Q: One more question about North Korea. My name is Ha from the Vietnam News Agency. I have one more question about North Korea missile launching. According to the information the Japanese Government has until today what is the best time for North Korea to launch the missile? And the second question is: when would be the impact the launching will have on the Six-Party Talks?
Mr. Sato: The best timing of the launch? We are of the view that North Korea under any circumstances should not make a launch utilizing ballistic missile technology. So our position is the opposite. They should not do this any time because it is going to contradict the international obligations North Korea has. There is nothing such as the best timing of the launch.
As for the impact on the Six-Party Talks in the case of the North Korea launching the missile, I think it is going to have a very detrimental effect on the process of the Six-Party Talks because we need to have confidence or trust before we restart. We need to have a kind of prospect for any meaningful result that we might produce after the meeting is over. So if North Korea launches a missile under the guise of a satellite, I think this is going to have a negative impact. That is why we have been saying they should restrain themselves and that they should not do this ever again. Our message is the same; North Korea should not launch any missiles under the guise of a satellite.
Any other question?
Q: Not today.
Mr. Sato: Thank you very much.
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