Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister Nakatani(08:27-08:35 A.M. January 8, 2016)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 08:27-08:35 A.M. January 8, 2016
Place: Entrance to the Prime Minister's Office
(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and the Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purposes only)
The original text is in Japanese.

1.Announcements
None.

2.Questions and Answers

Question:
There are views over North Korea's nuclear test that it was not a hydrogen bomb test. What is your view?

Minister:
Based on a comprehensive assessment of the seismic waves detected by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the announcement made by North Korea, among other information, the Government deems that North Korea conducted a nuclear test. We will need to continue our analyses and studies of North Korea's announcement in close coordination with the countries concerned, including the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Nevertheless, in view of the size of the earthquake, it is regarded unlikely that a general hydrogen bomb test was conducted. At the same time, however, this marks North Korea's fourth nuclear test, and in this regard, North Korea is anticipated to have considerable technological maturity in nuclear development. The possibility cannot be denied that for test purposes, the bomb was made smaller than a normal hydrogen bomb. We believe that further analyses need to be conducted.

Question:
Just to confirm, can you please explain once again why it was unlikely a hydrogen bomb?

Minister:
In general, a hydrogen bomb is more powerful than an atomic bomb. Therefore, it can be thought that if a hydrogen bomb test were conducted, the seismic waves resulting from the explosion would be larger than those from a normal atomic bomb test. However, the earthquake from the recent nuclear test had an estimated magnitude of 5.0-not very different from the previous three nuclear tests. It is thus considered unlikely that a general hydrogen bomb test was conducted.

Question:
Is this the view shared by the entire Government?

Minister:
This is the view of the Government as of now based on its coordination with the countries concerned, including the United States and the ROK, as well as the information it has collected and other analyses and studies.

Question:
What about radioactive substances? Do they have anything to do with the reason?

Minister:
We are continuing to carry out studies of the atmosphere. I have not been informed as of now that radioactive substances were detected in the atmosphere. The Japan Chemical Analysis Center is currently conducting tests. As of now, artificial radionuclides have not been detected.

Question:
Will you be continuing to carry out studies of the atmosphere?

Minister:
The studies will continue to be conducted.

Question:
If it was not a hydrogen bomb, what type of test was it? There are normal bombs as well as booster bombs. Can you please share your analyses in this regard?

Minister:
It is considered unlikely that a general hydrogen bomb test was conducted. We cannot deny the possibility that if a hydrogen bomb test was conducted, it was a smaller hydrogen bomb compared to a normal hydrogen bomb. We need to conduct further analyses.

Question:
What is your assessment regarding whether the nuclear test itself was a failure or a success?

Minister:
We deem that North Korea conducted a nuclear test. We will continue to conduct analyses and studies on whether it was a success or a failure.

Question:
I have a related question. Since noon today, the ROK Government has resumed mega volume loudspeaker broadcasts aimed at North Korea. I imagine there are concerns that this could heighten tensions once again. What are your views on this?

Minister:
I understand that the Secretary-General of the National Security Council (NSC) of the ROK announced that the NSC decided to fully resume loudspeaker broadcasts aimed at North Korea from noon today, as its fourth nuclear test constitutes a serious violation of the inter-Korean agreement of August 25 of last year. Last August, the ROK conducted loudspeaker broadcasts, which were initiated as a result of the landmine explosions in the DMZ. North Korea lodged strong protests against the broadcasts, and this resulted in the artillery incident. As it is conceivable that the loudspeaker broadcasts would re-heighten tensions between the North and South, the MOD will continue to pay close attention to monitoring the situation.

Question:
Some members of the Government are voicing that Japan sign the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) as part of the defense cooperation between Japan and the ROK. What is your understanding of this matter?

Minister:
I visited the ROK in October of last year, at which time Japan requested this at the meeting. I believe this matter will be considered in the ROK.

Question:
Negotiations have not been held since 2012. Do you have any intention to request the resumption of negotiations in the near future?

Minister:
There is an increasing need to share information between the two countries based on these threats posed by North Korea, and Japan regards the signing of GSOMIA to be important in this regard. If there is an opportunity, I would like to encourage regarding the GSOMIA.

Question:
There are speculations that following its nuclear test North Korea will conduct a test launch of a ballistic missile. What is the MOD's outlook regarding such indications and so on?

Minister:
We are aware of these news reports. Due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from responding about the individual details of North Korea's activities. That said, generally speaking, it cannot be denied that North Korea could conduct further provocative actions, including a missile launch, in backlash against pressure from countries and criticisms from the international community over the nuclear test. The MOD will continue to closely monitor these activities and actions.

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