(* This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)
Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba
Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012, 11:00 a.m.
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Opening Remarks
- (1) Adoption of nuclear disarmament resolution
- Japan-Russia relations
- Japan-U.S. Bilateral Joint Exercise
- A U.S. marine breaking into a house in Okinawa
- Takeshima issue
- Japan-China relations
- U.S. presidential election
- Prevention of crime by U.S. servicemen
- Japan’s nuclear disarmament policy
1. Opening Remarks
(1) Adoption of nuclear disarmament resolution
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba: The draft resolution on nuclear disarmament which the Government of Japan submits every year to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, was adopted on November 5th (U.S. time), by 159 Member-States in favor. For your reference, the resolution received approval from 156 Member-States last year.
The resolution confirms that concerted activities by the international society are necessary for the steady implementation of the agreement in the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held in May 2010. I believe the fact that the draft resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority shows that the Japan’s realistic and practical approach is recognized as the standard in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for the realization of a “world free of nuclear weapons”. This year, especially, from the Nuclear Weapon States, in addition to the United States, the United Kingdom joined the co-sponsors of the resolution.
As for the Government of Japan, we hope to keep leading the efforts by the international society in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation through approaches such as the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), in which I have also been involved, in addition to this resolution.
2. Japan-Russia relations
Kikuchi, Nippon Television: You have been coordinating former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's visit to Russia. Could you tell us how much progress has been made on this matter?
Minister Gemba: As I have consistently mentioned, ruling and opposition parties should form a united front in addressing diplomacy, and I expect former Prime Minister Mori to follow various issues up in an appropriate manner. It is still under coordination.
Kikuchi, Nippon Television: Has the schedule been fixed yet?
Minister Gemba: No, I cannot comment at this stage.
3. Japan-U.S. Bilateral Joint Exercise
Kikuchi, Nippon Television: The Japan-U.S. Bilateral Joint Exercise has started in the adjacent waters of Japan. It has been reported that a joint drill that simulates the retaking of a remote island has been canceled. Could you explain the reason or background of the cancellation? Is it in consideration of the relationship with China?
Minister Gemba: I would like to refrain from commenting on the coordination process. Originally, field training exercises and tabletop exercises have been conducted alternately every year. Since these exercises are not planned annually with a particular country in mind, I would like to refrain from commenting on the process of coordination. Some media outlets reported that there were discrepancies between Japan and the United States; however, there is no such discrepancy at present. I would like to stress this point.
4. A U.S. marine breaking into a house in Okinawa
Toiyama, Ryukyu Shimpo: Regarding the assault of a junior high school student by a U.S. Marine that occurred in Yomitan Villege, Okinawa, the Okinawa Prefectural Police announced yesterday that it would not take the marine into custody or arrest him. I understand that this is because the case is not considered as a heinous crime and the investigation is making progress. In reality, however, if a Japanese person had committed the same crime, it is highly likely that that person would have been arrested. The fact that the U.S. marine was not arrested is raising questions and an increasing backlash in Okinawa. Do you think the scope of the improvement of criminal jurisdiction procedures should be extended to such cases too? If you do not think that way, could you explain why?
Minister Gemba: I think it was in 1995, when a new Joint Committee Agreement was made in terms of the transfer of custody of the accused involved in heinous incidents such as murder or rape. As far as this case is concerned, in my opinion, this incident is unforgivable considering it occurred while a curfew was imposed on all U.S. servicemen stationed in Japan. However, the U.S. side is fully, and without reservation, cooperating with the investigation, and I hear that questioning is also in the process. If the marine, for example, tried to destroy evidence or escape, I would say what I need to say. However, now he is cooperating fully, I would like to keep watching the situation.
Toiyama, Ryukyu Shimpo: Are you considering expanding the scope of the improvement of its enforcement to the crimes like this?
Minister Gemba: At least, regarding this particular incident, I would like to keep my stance as I described now, for the time being.
5. Takeshima issue
Nikaido, Asahi Shimbun: The issue of the Takeshima Islands; it is reported that preparation to independently institute proceedings in the ICJ will be completed by the end of this month. What do you think about the relationship between the report and the timing of institution?
Minister Gemba: As I have said a number of times, we are making preparations in a straightforward manner and have not yet finished it. We are making preparations and nothing more, nothing less than that.
6. Japan-China relations
Lee, Hong Kong Phoenix TV: I would like to ask questions about the Senkaku Islands. Haijian, Chinese government-owned vessels, came to the contiguous zone today too. What do you think of the current tensed relations between Japan and China as Minister? Also, please let me confirm the Director-General-level talks that were held recently. What does the Government of Japan think is the most important to resolve the current situation?
Minister Gemba: As I have always told you, we request self-restraint to the Chinese side when Chinese vessels intrude into the contiguous zone, or at times into the territorial waters of Japan, and we also lodge protests when Chinese vessels invade into the territorial waters. Moreover, we lodge representations concerning the intrusion of Chinese vessels into the contiguous zone, which occurs almost every day.
In relation to the situations surrounding the Senkaku Islands, what we must be careful about, especially, urgently take care of, is avoiding contingencies at any cost. It is necessary to have shared recognition about that, and for that purpose, I think we need to request calm response and self-restraint to the Chinese side.
That said, regarding the Director-General-level talks, as the talks have been announced by a press release, I will not speak about the details of the exchanges of talks. However, frankly speaking, I think there is a gap between the stances of the two sides. I currently think that it may take much time.
While maintaining the basic stance, we also must avoid contingencies as I said. At the same time, we also need to stabilize economic, cultural, and human exchanges because both Japan and China have a mutually dependent economic relationship. Moreover, as we are the world's second and third nations in terms of the GDP, we owe serious responsibilities to the global economy. In addition, because Japan-China relations are very important bilateral relations for Japan, I think we need to calmly address the situation from a broad perspective.
7. U.S. presidential election
Otani, NHK: The U.S. presidential election will be held tomorrow. The candidates have come to their final stages while it is still a very tight race. Could you tell us the influence of the election to the Japan-U.S. alliance, especially the influence in case candidate Mitt Romney wins the election?
Minister Gemba: I think neither the Government of Japan nor the Minister for Foreign Affairs should make any comment before the result of the election is delivered. However, no matter what the result might be, there is no doubt that both Japan and the U.S. share the same view on the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
8. Prevention of crime by U.S. servicemen
Matsuura, Yomiuri Shimbun: Concerning the prevention of crimes and accidents by U.S. soldiers, you have repeatedly mentioned measures that ensure effectiveness. However, it is hard to imagine what the measures are like. Could you tell us a bit about your current idea?
Minister Gemba: I cannot tell you at this stage, but we have discussed and approximated opinions at very early stages and I suggested what we say. The discussion includes some technicalities as well. This is because, as I always say, effectiveness includes fairly technical aspects. Yet, we also want to obtain a satisfactory result, and therefore we should not say things like “we said this and they said that” at this stage. I really want to obtain a result at any cost.
9. Japan’s nuclear disarmament policy
Yoshida, Nishinihon Shimbun: In relation to nuclear elimination, you said that Japan’s proposal was realistic and had become the standards. However, even after President Obama stated the goal of a “world free of nuclear weapons,” progress of the elimination of nuclear weapons has been so slow in reality. Do you regard the current situation toward the elimination of nuclear weapons is making any progress? In addition, when Norway submitted an opinion concerning the illegalization of nuclear weapons, Japan did not sign it. Isn’t it possible to give consideration to such a policy? I would like to ask these two questions.
Minister Gemba: As I mentioned, our stance is to take approaches on the two points based on certain realism, which we take in the resolution this time as well as in the NPDI, and I think this is one of the characteristics of our policy. Unfortunately, idealism alone cannot turn things around. Therefore, although I do not recognize the current situation as making great progress toward a “world free of nuclear weapons,” I also think that is the reason why our realistic approaches are being supported. I think this means that many countries started to think that this is the only way they can take.
Although it did not attract much attention, when I visited Europe recently, there were some nuclear-possessing nations among the countries that I visited, as you know. In the Strategic Dialogues, I strongly requested those countries to implement, for example, the reporting form, which Japan had long prepared. So, I think repeating such efforts results in improved transparency and leads to cooperation for reducing nuclear weapons. I don't think idealism alone has brought any progress so far. Therefore, Japan took an initiative and launched a group such as the NPDI after the administration had changed. Actually, many countries are hoping to join the NPDI. The NPDI is not limited to the current members. However, these countries have not joined the NPDI yet, because we, on the other hand, also think that it would be difficult to bring all countries together and it would be more effective to consider the issue among current members more deeply and take initiatives. Therefore, Japan, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombs, would like to take the most effective approach.
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