"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Excerpt from the Press Conference of Mr. Yoshito Sengoku, Chief Cabinet Secretary Concerning the incident of the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, Republic of Korea by the DPRK

[Date] November 23, 2010
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

Regarding the incident in which Yeonpyeong Island of the Republic of Korea was shelled by the DPRK, I would like to deliver some remarks to both you (the media) and the Japanese public concerning the government’s understanding of the facts regarding the situation, the government’s response to the incident, and the government’s position regarding the matter, as well as make some remarks addressed to the Japanese people.

First of all, with regard to the facts surrounding the incident, according to the briefing given by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Republic of Korea (at 18:30), today at approximately 14:34 the military of the DPRK fired several dozen rounds of its coastal artillery at the waters surrounding Yeonpyeong Island as well as at inland areas. In response, the ROK military, in accordance with the rules of engagement, returned fire with 80 rounds, beginning at approximately 14:47. The state of damage assessed thus far is of 17 members of the ROK military, including 2 persons killed in action, 5 sustaining serious injuries, and 10 sustaining minor injuries. These are the figures from the 18:30 briefing by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Republic of Korea. In addition, 3 civilians sustained minor injuries. The ROK side issued a notification to the DPRK in the name of Representative to North-South General-Level Military Meeting demanding the immediate cessation of acts of provocation. The DPRK side acknowledged the shelling within press releases from the Supreme Headquarters of the Korean People’s Army, stating that if the ROK encroaches on DPRK territorial waters, the DPRK will continue to execute without hesitation a merciless military response. In light of this state of affairs, the Government of Japan extends its sincere condolences to the victims of this incident.

As for the Japanese government’s response to these matters, based on this situation, at 15:20 the Prime Minister’s Office established an Information Liaison Office Concerning the Shelling Incident by the DPRK and has been vigorously engaged in collecting information. Moreover, from 16:45 the Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary [Motohisa] Furukawa, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management, and others gathered at the Prime Minister’s Office and were briefed on developments. The Prime Minister directed first, that efforts be fully devoted to information gathering, and second, that appropriate measures be taken in preparation for contingencies. They subsequently received briefings at the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s Office, from State Secretary for Foreign Affairs [Takeaki] Matsumoto at 17:30 and from the Minister of Defense at 18:00. At 19:10 they received a briefing from Ambassador to Japan Kwon Chul-Hyun of the ROK and provided to him an explanation of the Japanese government’s response to the incident. At 20:45 the Prime Minister convened ministerial meeting, hosted by the Prime Minister, at which consultations were held regarding information analysis and forthcoming responses. The instructions given by the Prime Minister were first, to undertake information gathering concerning future movements by the DPRK; second, to address the situation through close coordination with the ROK, the United States, and others; and third, to undertake all possible measures to ensure the safety and the peace of mind of the Japanese people, including by preparing for contingencies (with such measures referring to the strengthening of the information gathering systems of the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces and related means).

Regarding the position of the Government regarding this situation, [first,] this incident of shelling by the DPRK cannot be tolerated and Japan strongly condemns the DPRK. [Second,] Japan extends its condolences to the government and the people of the ROK regarding the human cost of this shelling, and Japan supports the position of the government of the ROK. Third, insofar as this act of provocation by means of the shelling by the DPRK undermines the peace and security of not only the ROK but the entirety of Northeast Asia, including Japan, we demand an immediate cessation of all such acts. Fourth, in line with the instructions given by the Prime Minister at the ministerial meeting, Japan will address future developments in close coordination with the ROK, the United States, and other relevant countries. In addition, the Japanese government will work together to engage in the collection of information and we will take appropriate measures in preparation for contingencies.

Finally, I would like to address the Japanese public. The Government intends to provide information regarding this situation in an appropriate and timely manner. At present, our understanding is that this situation does not directly impact upon the lives of the Japanese people, and we ask the public to respond calmly. This is our request to the Japanese people.

This concludes the information I (the Chief Cabinet Secretary) am providing to you at this juncture.