Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki

Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 4:41 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Launch of Ballistic Missiles by North Korea

Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: Although Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato has already given an explanation on this issue earlier, I would like to start off by speaking about North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles today.

Today at 12:32 p.m. and 12:37 p.m., it appears that North Korea has launched at least two ballistic missiles from an inland area of the country toward the east. Regarding details such as the flight distance of the ballistic missiles, based on initial information, it was announced that the ballistic missiles fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but we are currently conducting analysis on the possibility of irregular trajectory and other issues.

According to what has been confirmed by relevant ministries and agencies, we have provided information to aircrafts and vessels navigating nearby. At this point, we have not confirmed any reports of damage to the aircrafts and vessels.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato introduced the instructions from the Prime Minister and the establishment of a crisis management center at the Prime Minister’s Office, so I will not repeat.

As for MOFA, due to North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles this time, Director-General Funakoshi of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of MOFA exchanged his views with U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim, who was on his way to the airport. He also held a talk a short while ago with Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK), although he already left Japan yesterday. During these talks, they confirmed to continue close Japan-U.S. cooperation, Japan-ROK cooperation, and Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation.

North Korea’s action threatens the peace and security of Japan and the region, and is outrageous. Including the repeated launches of ballistic missiles and the like in the past, this is a serious issue for the entire international community, including Japan.

Such ballistic missile launches violate the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Japan has made a serious protest against North Korea using diplomatic channels. That is all from me.

Launch of Ballistic Missiles by North Korea

NHK, Watanabe: You mentioned diplomatic channels. Is it correct to understand that this was done through the route of our embassy in Beijing?

Press Secretary Yoshida: Yes, that is correct.

NHK, Watanabe: Also, I believe that analysis is still underway, but have you learned anything about North Korea’s intentions, including the timing of the launch, given that the launch took place right after yesterday’s talks between Japan, U.S., and ROK officials in Tokyo?

Press Secretary Yoshida: You asked about North Korea’s intentions behind the missile launch. We are of course conducting various forms of analysis. I believe there are various aspects to this. However, I would like to refrain from officially commenting at this point since it could impede our future response regarding North Korea.

Hokkaido Shimbun, Furuta: In relation to this issue, meetings were held between Special Representative Kim and Special Representative Noh respectively. Could you share with us about how long was the each meeting? To add, the meetings took place today following yesterday’s meeting. Could you tell us to the extent possible if there were any aspects that were not discussed yesterday but were newly discussed today?

Press Secretary Yoshida: To answer your question, as I have mentioned in my opening remarks, I have not heard specifically how long the talks were with Special Representative Kim and Special Representative Noh. I will check later.

Special Representative Kim stopped by for the meeting before he headed to the airport, so I believe the meeting was not long. If I remember correctly, I believe they spoke for about 20-30 minutes.

You have already been informed through press materials about the Japan-U.S.-ROK Talk on North Korea held yesterday on September 14. Based on instructions from the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held on the fringes of the G7 Summit in London in May 2021, these Talks have been held intermittently since then between six representatives from Japan, the United States, and the ROK. The most recent in-person meeting before this was held in July in Seoul.

Therefore, the Talk which was held yesterday had been planned before North Korea’s ballistic missile launch today and before North Korea announced the launch of the long-distance cruise missile two days ago. The three countries had extensive and general exchange of views regarding the recent situation in North Korea.

The three countries confirmed three points during their discussions: that it is necessary to seek for a diplomatic resolution, that it seeks for a full implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and that there will be close cooperation between Japan-U.S., Japan-ROK, and Japan-U.S.-ROK in order to realize a complete denuclearization of North Korea. They came to an agreement on their view and shared the recognition that it is necessary to increase response capabilities and deterrence for regional peace and security.

I believe that point of the talks held today between the representatives of Japan and the United States, and between the representatives of Japan and the ROK were about discussing our current recognitions, including today’s launch of ballistic missiles by North Korea.

NHK, Watanabe: Allow me to ask another question. MOFA took a rather unusual response on North Korea today. The abrupt meeting between Special Representative Kim and Director-General Funakoshi allowed a more in-depth press occasion than usual by setting the occasion within the ministry building. Maybe it was just the Special Representative Kim was still in Japan, but could you tell us a little more about the background and whether you were thinking about sending a message to North Korea.

Press Secretary Yoshida: The discussions between the Japan, U.S., and ROK representatives in charge of North Korea took place after making contact abruptly. I believe the press occasion that you have just mentioned was set considering the fact that the situation was an emergency and also bearing in mind the high interest of the people of Japan towards this issue.

As I stated before, North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles this time took place for the first time in half a year since March. But North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles in the past. The entire international community has grave concerns. Additionally, the launch of missiles is a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions. We are making a strong protest against North Korea. The messaging to North Korea is based on the recognition I have just mentioned.

Press Secretary Yoshida: To answer the previous question raised by the Hokkaido Shimbun reporter, the Japan-U.S. discussion between Special Representative Kim was about 30 minutes long. The Japan-ROK talk lasted for about 15 minutes between Special Representative Noh over the telephone since he had already returned to the ROK.

Situation in Afghanistan (Support for People Who Wish to Leave Afghanistan)

NHK, Watanabe: I would like to change the subject from North Korea to Afghanistan. There was an announcement made recently that additional six people have arrived in Japan. But I am not really aware of what is happening in the current situation. I believe that there are people who leave Afghanistan on their own to neighboring countries. Please tell us the overall direction of the Government of Japan’s support, including what kind of support will be provided under what kind of structure.

Press Secretary Yoshida: As we have already stated this weekend, 10 people from two families, including local JICA employees, have arrived in Japan. It is the stance of the Government of Japan that we exert all efforts to enable local staff of the embassy and JICA as well as other such people in Afghanistan who wish to leave the country to be able to do so.

The people who left Afghanistan this time used a land-based route and received support in Pakistan from the diplomatic mission to enter Japan. As I have stated before, I believe that there will be people leaving Afghanistan who uses land-based routes, but it is not that we recommend such routes when we consider the safety perspective.

Thus, we first communicate with the Taliban so that people can leave the country safely. Our basic policy will be to request the Taliban to allow them to leave Afghanistan.

Although some charter flights are taking off and landing at the airport, generally the situation has not yet reached the point where private flight service can be resumed. I believe that air routes will of course continue to be the main route to leave the country. Bearing that in mind, however, if there are people who leave Afghanistan to neighboring countries, although we do not recommend such actions, our policy is to respond based on their individual circumstances and wishes while keeping close contact with neighboring countries and relevant countries.

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