Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (After the Second Security Council Meeting on the Launch by North Korea)
Friday, April 13, 2012
Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura
REPORTER: Have you ascertained at what time the flying object was confirmed by the Government as being the missile in question?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I was in the previous press conference at shortly after 10:30am when this was confirmed, and I received a report when I returned from the press conference. As a result of various items of information being received and combined it was judged to be the case.
REPORTER: So this was around 10:30am?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yes.
REPORTER: There seems to be some difference between the time at which other countries made this confirmation and at which the confirmation was made by Japan. How do you evaluate the information gathering aspects of the operation by the Government of Japan, in view of the time that was expended in order to make the confirmation?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: The confirmations by the various countries you have mentioned were each made in their own different formats. There may be differences in the way they were implemented. In the case of Japan, the way the confirmation was made was to ascertain that the missile which North Korea calls a "satellite" was no longer on the launch pad.
REPORTER: You previously stated in your press conference that the Japanese Government sought to implement a double check and not rely purely on the SEW (Satellite Early Warning of the U.S.) information alone, so can we take it from that statement that the Japanese Government confirmed the presence of the flying object itself on radar?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yes, information was first received at 7:40am, based on SEW information, that some kind of object had been launched. It was subsequently confirmed by radar, not by the Prime Minister's Office, that some kind of object that was flying towards Japan and the seas around Japan was in fact no longer heading in our direction. It was thus judged that a situation had not occurred in which Japan would be placed in danger. In addition, in the sense that it was necessary to confirm what had actually been launched, and whether it was a short-range missile or a burn test, as this could not be confirmed by SEW information alone, the Government engaged thereafter in various verification activities.
REPORTER: You have just stated that in the process of confirming the launch, it was confirmed that in fact the ballistic missile had disappeared. In this case, I have a simple question: Why was it the case that it could be confirmed that the missile had disappeared, but it could not be confirmed that it had been launched?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: With regard to the launch, as I have just stated, it could not be confirmed by SEW information alone exactly what had been launched, and whether it was a burn test or a short-range missile. However, it was the case that it had already been confirmed by radar in Japan too that something had been launched, but it was not confirmed whether it was the missile which North Korea was calling a "satellite." However, it was confirmed by radar that something had been launched and that after one minute it had disappeared from the radar.
REPORTER: With regard to J-ALERT and Em-Net (Emergency Information Network), it was the case that the Em-Net system was put into operation on one occasion prior to the double check being completed, but J-ALERT was not put into operation. Is the difference in the way these two systems were handled due to the fact that J-ALERT provides information directly to residents and its operation was halted so as not to create undue confusion among the general public?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: J-ALERT is a system that provides warning that something is flying towards Japan after it has been launched, and in this case a situation ultimately did not arise in which it needed to be put into operation.
REPORTER: So the purpose and method of use of Em-Net is different?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Em-Net is basically used in the same way, but as media reports of the launch had already been announced, it was judged that it would be preferable to issue a notification concerning the launch via the Em-Net system.
REPORTER: A statement was released via Em-Net that Japan had not confirmed the launch. Do you think this was appropriate wording to release via Em-Net?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: This is something that we would like to investigate. Information was initially sent out via Em-Net and then again at 8:30am, concerning "information about the missile which North Korea calls a 'satellite'." At 8:30am the message that was issued was that, "Confirmation is ongoing with regard to the launch of a missile which North Korea calls a 'satellite," but it is thought that there will be no impact on Japanese territory." Subsequently another message wassent out via Em-Net to the effect that a launch had taken place at 7:40amaccording to what had been confirmed by SEW information, the launch site was western North Korea, and the launch trajectory was southwards, with an unknown number of launches, and that after launch the object had apparently split into several pieces and had not been confirmed as having flown into Japanese territory. Eventually, messages were issued via Em-Net for three times.
REPORTER: Related to this, how much coordination was there in advance with the United States (U.S.) regarding how the U.S. SEW information would be communicated or disseminated within Japan?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I understand that the U.S. forces and Japan's Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces were coordinating with each other on a variety of matters. It was within that scope.
REPORTER: I believe quite a number of people see overlaps between this information from SEW and the information from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) at the time of the nuclear power station accident. In other words, with both of these systems, damage may occur while information is being confirmed. This risk causes concern to the people. In this light, does the Government have any intention of reconsidering information provision mechanisms for future crisis management?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: First, information from SEW, and Japan, confirmed that the flying object disappeared about 80 seconds after the launch. Had the flying object been clearly heading toward us, a warning using J-ALERT would have been issued. However, the flying object disappeared in about over oneminute. Therefore, I believe it can be said with certainty that nothing was heading toward Japan. I do believe that, as you said a moment ago, crisis management systems should be under constant review.
REPORTER: In that case, do you believe that the decision not toissue a warning using J-ALERT was appropriate?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: If something was clearly heading toward Japan, then a warning should be issued using J-ALERT. However, since this was not the situation, I believe it was an appropriate decision not to issue a warning using J-ALERT.
REPORTER: I have a question regarding sanctions. Up to now, I believe there have been two types of sanctions against North Korea every time there was a missile launch or nuclear test: Sanctions implemented by Japan alone; and Sanctions of the United Nations (UN) or of an international framework. This time, which type of sanctions will you be considering? Also, were sanctions discussed at the UN Security Council meeting a moment ago?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: I believe Japan's measures against North Korea will continue to be examined holistically in view of relevant information, bearing in mind developments in relevant countries, beginning with the U.S., the Republic of Korea (ROK), China, and Russia - and I understand that a meeting of the UN Security Council will be convened tomorrow - so, developments in the international community, and furthermore, while closely watching the situation in North Korea moving forward. Therefore, at the Security Council meeting a moment ago, no discussions took place on any kind of immediate sanctions.
REPORTER: In principle, the Government will be considering sanctions within the international framework?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Yes, I believe they will continue to be considered bearing in mind the developments in relevant countries and developments in the international community, among other factors.
REPORTER: Sorry, if I can go back to the wording of the Em-Net announcement. When did you find out about the first Em-Net announcement that was sent out? Also, at the time, what were your thoughts on the wording of the announcement? On this basis, were any instructions given to the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management regarding information dissemination from the second announcement and onwards?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: It was a short text. Although I believe there was nothing logistically wrong with this, I do think slightly that perhaps something a little bit more could have been said as of 8:03am. However, as this is a text that gets sent out to all areas of Japan at one time, I believe it was also necessary to keep it as short and precise as much as possible. Em-Net's method of use will also be reviewed to some extent going forward.
REPORTER: When you say "a little bit more" could have been said, what specifically do you believe could have been said?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: Although discussions took place, at that moment in time I believe the situation was not yet such that we could immediately declare that "There is nothing. There is nothing to worry about." In other words, it was not clearly confirmed whether it was a burn test or short-range missile, in which case whether the missile which North Korea calls a "satellite" would still be launched. After 10:30am, it was confirmed that the missile had been launched.
REPORTER: North Korean TV broadcasted a moment ago that the launch was a failure. What is the Japanese Government's view on this? While there are talks about more missile launches and nuclear tests, for example, how the Japanese Government see such concerns?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY FUJIMURA: While I believe to date North Korea did not make very many announcements, there was a brief announcement that the "earth observation satellite" failed to enter its orbit and that scientists and others are identifying the causes of the failure. This seems to be a bit different from the past. However, we do not yet have a full understanding of their intentions and so on. Also, it remains unchanged that Japan will indeed closely monitor forthcoming developments.