Press Conference by the Press Secretary 26 September 1995

  1. Recent incident in Okinawa and Japan's position on the Japan-United States Security Arrangements
  2. Reform of the United Nations Security Council
  3. 2+2 Meetings between Japan and the United States of America

  1. Recent incident in Okinawa and Japan's position on the Japan-United States Security Arrangements

    Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hiroshi Hashimoto: You are already familiar with the unfortunate incident in Okinawa and, although you have already noted the position of the Japanese Government, I would like to once again explain to you our basic position on this subject. Japanese people in general wish that criminal proceedings relating to this incident will be followed rapidly and with justice. There is good cooperation between Japanese and American authorities in this respect and we do not think that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) stands in the way of following these procedures. The United States military in Japan needs to take specific preventive measures in order to prevent recurrence of similar incidents. Also, Japanese and American authorities need to strengthen their mutual cooperation to make these preventive measures effective. For this reason, Japanese and American experts held the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Criminal Jurisdiction Procedures on 25 September, in order to investigate the actual operations of criminal jurisdiction procedures under the present SOFA framework and to consider if there is any room for improvement. In the past, unfortunately, there was a case whereby the suspect under United States custody escaped from Japan. It is necessary to make operational improvements to Article 17 of SOFA, so that measures such as custody of suspects by the United States side, as well as questioning of suspects by the Japanese side, would be always effective. When we consider operational improvement to Article 17 of SOFA, it is needless to say that we take appropriate measures to protect the basic human rights of suspects. The Japan-United States Security Arrangements serve as the basis of the Japan-United States relationship and are the key to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. We need to maintain and reinforce the broad support of the Japanese and American peoples for maintaining the effectiveness of the Arrangements. In this respect, we believe with a sense of urgency, that this tragic incident will be appropriately dealt with under Japanese law. This is the basic position of the Japanese Government.

    Q: As far as I understand Article 17 of SOFA, it says that Japanese police can only detain criminal suspects after they have been formally indicted by a public prosecutor's office and not before. This was one of the issues after the Okinawa incident. Is it likely that provision will be changed -- either in practice with the result of these talks that you mentioned -- or that there will be a rewording of Article 17 as a result of those talks, or will the situation remain as it is now -- that the police cannot retain suspects until after the indictment?

    A: First of all, the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Criminal Jurisdiction Procedures met yesterday, and it will meet often in the future. We hope this Subcommittee will give a good report, and, if necessary, suggest improvements to the Article. So, we will have to wait until the experts give us their official request for this. Secondly, you may recall that several days ago, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono said there is no rush in revising the SOFA. As I told you, we have to understand whether the improvements in the implementation of the Agreement can be achieved. We, in any case, sincerely hope that the Japanese criminal jurisdiction procedures are proceeding normally. We understand, in this sense, that local police are happy with the cooperation from the United States side.

    Q: Some publications have quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman, unnamed I think, saying that an attempt to renegotiate the SOFA Agreement, as such, could endanger the Security Arrangements themselves, because of the bad impact that that would have in England and the United States. Has such a remark been made by somebody at the Foreign Ministry?

    A: What did you say this report was based on?

    Q: I actually read this in the Japan Economic Journal, the English version.

    A: As far as the official position of the Foreign Ministry is concerned, it is what Foreign Minister Kono said. Apart from that -- of course, unofficially -- there may be some personal opinions, but I do not think that will reflect the official position of the Foreign Ministry. Therefore, for Japan and the United States of America to maintain and develop the security relationship is very important, and in order to do so, we have to have the broad support of the peoples in both countries. In this sense, we would like to see this unfortunate incident dealt with accordingly, under Japanese law and order.

    Q: I wonder if there is any difference over the rights of custody of suspects between United States-Japan SOFA and United States-European nations. Could you explain the difference? Am I wrong in saying that some European nations have the right over custody of suspects, even during investigations?

    A: If you talk about the text of the Agreement itself, our SOFA is based on the NATO Agreement, but under NATO, each country concerned has an additional status of forces agreement. According to this, for example, the Federal Republic of Germany has its own Status of Forces Agreement with NATO and as far as the text is concerned -- I'm sorry, I cannot translate it properly -- but it says that if the German side wishes, the suspects can be handed over to the German authorities, or something like this. But we do not know how it is implemented. So, we need to find out how, under this text, those instances are handled in Germany. We are still learning what the differences are.

    Q: The text sounds like the German authorities have the right of custody of suspects even during police investigations. Do I understand?

    A: As far as the text is concerned, yes, I have the same question. But, at the same time, the same agreement said that the actual custody itself is held by the NATO side until the court gives a verdict on this. So, although it seems -- and this is my impression on this -- the suspects can be handed over to the German authority for investigation, the custody itself is handled by the NATO side until the court gives a verdict. It is very difficult for me to understand this. In any case, it is very difficult to understand the text itself, so we have to directly ask how they are implementing the text. Otherwise, we cannot simply compare the Japanese case with the German case properly.

    Q: Will the issue also be discussed with the United States authorities, because Foreign Minister Kono is now in the United States? A: The 2+2 Meeting will be held soon in New York; however, once this issue is handled by the experts in Tokyo, I think the details of the discussion will take place here in Tokyo. But, of course, once those four gentlemen meet, we will have to wait to see whether they will pick up this subject or just leave this matter to the experts.

    Q: Do you think the speech of Foreign Minister Kono in the United Nations will have something?

    A: After they hold the so-called 2+2 Meeting, the briefing will be done in New York, so you will know the content of the talks between the Japanese and American sides then.

    Q: I mean the speech in the United Nations.

    A: As far as his speech in the United Nations is concerned, as far as I understand, I do not think Foreign Minister Kono will mention this. But, Foreign Minister Kono will work out the draft up until the last moment -- so I am not sure how he will think on this. But, up until now, I understand that he will not touch on this subject in his speech to the United Nations. But, please, wait until the full text is published.

    Q: Regarding SOFA, I think the Foreign Ministry's position on SOFA is that it does not want to see it revised, despite the fact that some people are commenting on how it is 50 years since the end of the war and it is 35 years since SOFA was made effective. Could you please elaborate on why the Foreign Ministry is against revising it?

    A: We do not say that we are against revising it. What we have been saying is we should not rush in thinking about the possibility of revising the agreement. SOFA has been implemented accordingly, but if there are questions about the implementation of the Agreement, both the Japanese and United States can always meet together and study whether the implementation is going well or not. Therefore, before we jump at studying the possibility of revising the Agreement itself, it is much better if we concentrate on reviewing whether the SOFA has been implemented well, or whether we can improve the implementation of the SOFA. Therefore, on this unfortunate incident, the same can be applied, and we ask the experts to sincerely address this issue, and to make a good report to the Government. We have to wait until this report is prepared.

    Q: You talk about an operation improvement. Would this not, perhaps, lead to a revision of SOFA? I mean, the wording "operation improvement" is -- for me, at least -- kind of vague. I am not exactly sure what it is supposed to mean. Is it the interpretation of SOFA that is going to change?

    A: When I say this -- this time it is related to Article 17 of the SOFA. As I told you, in the past there was a case whereby a suspect under United States custody escaped from Japan. Therefore, we need to improve the operation and implementation of the Articles so that this kind of incident will not be repeated. Now, fortunately, the United States side is very cooperative and the suspects are in the custody of the United States. I do not think the Japanese police have a problem, but we have to be assured that that type of past incident will not be repeated. So, in this sense, what the experts are doing is not vague.

    Q: Is there any time limit on the SOFA Agreement? Does it have to be renewed?

    A: So far, we do not have a timetable, because the experts met only yesterday.

    Q: I'm sorry. I'm asking about the SOFA Agreement itself. Is there a time limit on the Agreement or some provision at all for renewal?

    A: If you talk about the umbrella agreement -- I mean where the Security Treaty is concerned -- we can abolish the Treaty with one year's notice. So, probably, the same can be applied to the SOFA. I am sure my colleagues can check on this for you.

    Q: Excuse me, I would like to know the validity of the SOFA -- there is no plan set yet. Is that true?

    A: I talked about the present experts meeting. It is a bit too early for me to tell you when this meeting will finish the study and when it will give a report to the Government.

    Q: No, what I mean is the SOFA itself -- the Agreement itself.

    A: The Agreement is valid so far as the Security Treaty between the two countries remains valid. So, the fate of the SOFA is identical to that of the Security Treaty.

  2. Reform of the United Nations Security Council

    Q: I wonder if you could give me a reaction to the statement by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the United Nations Secretary-General, that the Enemy Clause should be struck out of the United Nations Charter. A follow-up question to that: Does this mean that Japan is likely to push even harder for a permanent seat on the Security Council?

    A: As far as Secretary-General of the United Nations Boutros Boutros-Ghali's statement is concerned, was it made very recently?

    Q: Yes, it was made yesterday.

    A: Yesterday, when Foreign Minister Kono met Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, those two gentlemen exchanged their views on the possible United Nations reform. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali touched on the Enemy Clause. However, you understand very well that already, at the working group on reform, this has been discussed, and the Japanese side understands that when, in the future, the United Nations Charter is revised, we sincerely hope that the Enemy Clause would be dropped. In any case, the Foreign Minister is going to touch on United Nations reform in his speech, which will be delivered soon in New York. Our basic stand on this question is as you understand. This United Nations Session is very important, on the basis of the Working Group report. The United Nations is going to study this within one year, and within this year we would like to have United Nations reform done. In this sense, if Japan is requested to play a global partnership role in a new reformed Security Council, within certain limits of the Japanese Constitution, Japan is happy to play that role. As far as that position is concerned, it has not changed.

  3. 2+2 Meetings between Japan and the United States of America

    Q: May I just ask a bit more about the 2+2 talks? I am not clear whether those are entirely concerned with security and foreign relations or whether they have a much broader agenda -- and as far as the security side is concerned, what I likely see as bilateral security issues might be expected to pop up.

    A: As you know, although the two Governments decided to hold these 2+2 Meetings several years ago. Unfortunately, up until now, we have not carried out the 2+2 Meetings to full capacity. This is the first time for a Japanese Foreign Minister and Director-General of the National Defense Agency to meet Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Secretary of Defense William Perry of the United States. We would like to discuss all sorts of important security matters which both sides are interested in. In any case, in the past, we did not necessarily have sufficient time to address these issues. Therefore, I am sure that those four ministers will have very fruitful discussions. But as far as the content of the talks are concerned, I hope that you will be patient. We will give a briefing in New York to the foreign press.

    Q: How long ago was the plan made, and why couldn't you meet in October?

    A: We will find out when the 2+2 Meeting was originally held and tell you. But, in any case, it was very, very difficult for both Governments to ask a Foreign Minister and Defense Secretary to meet at the same time for purely logistical reasons. That is why they could not meet. For example, when Defense Secretary Perry visited Japan last year -- if I remember correctly -- the Deputy Secretary of Defense of the United States met our Foreign Minister and Defense Minister in Japan. We called it a 2+2 Meeting, but probably you can call it a 2+ one-and-a-half. But in a real sense, a 2+2 Meeting is going to take place this year for the first time.

    Q: I believe there is a plan for Prime Minister Murayama and President Clinton to issue a statement about defense relations at the summit after APEC. Is that as I was told - - is it still going ahead? What kind of things are they likely to say?

    A: The Japanese and United States Governments have been preparing for the visit. Whether we should issue a paper on this is under study. Up until now, we have not decided what to do. In any case, if we can issue a joint statement, I think many people believe it would be very useful for the peoples of both countries to understand more about the importance of the bilateral relationship. As for the SOFA, according to the present Agreement, the SOFA remains effective so far as the Security Treaty between the two countries remains effective. So, I will leave it to you.

    Q: Can you say what is the present ratio of American military costs in Japan paid by the Japanese side, and whether there is any provision for renegotiation of that sort of thing?

    A: Are you talking about the host-nation support program?

    Q: Yes.

    A: As far as I understand, the Japanese and American sides will announce a new agreement when they meet in the 2+2 Meeting. So, you will understand the content of the new agreement then, but so far as the present status is concerned, I hope my colleagues will quickly find out and give you some idea. Yes, in any case, roughly speaking, it is about US$120,000 or so, per soldier, annually.

    Q: Are we to understand that's going to be increased as a result of it -- in the new version?

    A: I have not yet been briefed on the new content and, probably, we would like to explain the content to you in New York, rather than right here.

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