Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, August 29, 2017, 8:00 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: In response to North Korea’s missile launch, the first meeting of the emergency response headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was held from 7:45 a.m. At the same time, Japan lodged a protest to North Korea in the strongest term through the embassy route in Beijing, and in New York, Japan is now working with the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to call on Egypt, which holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council, to immediately convene an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. We will gather relevant information and strive to firmly continue to put pressure on North Korea. That is all from me.
Reporter: This is the first missile launched over Japan in quite a while. Firstly, what is your comment?
Minister Kono: I believe the danger to Japan has grown significantly stronger. The United States made clear both in written and spoken statements that President Trump had instructed to put all options on the table regarding North Korea, and I highly value that stance.
Reporter: What kinds of instructions have been issued at the National Security Council (NSC)?
Minister Kono: The Chief Cabinet Secretary will give remarks concerning the NSC.
Reporter: One point I would like to confirm is whether Japan has already made a request, along with the U.S. and the ROK, for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
Minister Kono: We will request one. I think there are official procedures to take, but we have already begun preparations.
Reporter: What kind of cooperation, such as telephone talks, will Japan undertake with the U.S., the ROK, and China?
Minister Kono: We have already requested telephone talks, and right now we are arranging schedules for them.
Reporter: Who have you requested telephone talks with?
Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from commenting on that.
Reporter: The missile's flight path was over Japan, but not toward Guam. What is your assessment of this?
Minister Kono: Whether to the east or the south, North Korea has launched a missile over Japan, and without warning. Such an act could pose a very serious threat to aircraft and ships at sea, even with a warning. I believe we have to apply more pressure than ever before.
Reporter: As you mentioned, the missile was launched without warning, and although there was no damage, as in previous incidents this was a dangerous situation that posed a threat to aircraft. Do you know if there were any close calls this time?
Minister Kono: As of now, no information about a direct danger has come in. That does not mean such act could be allowed if there had been a warning. However, because the launch happened without even a warning and it could have truly put lives at risk, the UN Security Council needs to show a firmer stance than it has thus far.
Reporter: The missile was launched toward Hokkaido instead of Guam. What is your evaluation of North Korea's aim in doing this?
Minister Kono: I would like to refrain from commenting on what North Korea is thinking. However, if North Korea had launched the missile to the south the U.S. could have taken responses after the considerable provocations from North Korea, so perhaps North Korea backed down a little. From Japan's point of view, however, it is the same whether a missile is launched to the east or to the south. We do not distinguish between the two, and we will make a firm response.