Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida

* This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
The original text is in Japanese.

Date: Friday, March 7, 2014, 8:28 a.m.
Place: Prime Minister’s Office

Situation in Ukraine

Nakamura, Nippon TV: Regarding Ukraine, the Crimea decided to hold a referendum as to whether to join Russia. Please tell us the Government of Japan’s stance on this move.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: As for the situation in Ukraine, as mentioned in the Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have stated: Japan strongly expects that the situation in Ukraine will be settled in a peaceful manner and strongly urges all the parties concerned to behave with maximum self-restraint and responsibility, to fully observe the relevant international laws, and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. With respect to the referendum you asked about, we are closely monitoring the situation with concerns and anxiety from the aspect of territorial integrity.

Nakamura, Nippon TV: Does that mean that the Government of Japan is against Ukraine joining Russia?

Minister Kishida: From the aspect of territorial integrity, we are paying a close attention to the situation with grave anxiety and concern.

Nakamura, Nippon TV: In response to such a move, the EU and the U.S. have decided to impose sanctions on the Russian side. Please tell us the Government of Japan’s stance on the sanctions.

Minister Kishida: On the point you raised, Japan will respond appropriately, giving consideration to the further development of the situation in Ukraine and other countries’ moves. That is our current policy.

Nakamura, Nippon TV: You held telephone conferences with the UK and German counterparts yesterday. Are you planning telephone conferences with the U.S. and Russian counterparts as well?

Minister Kishida: That is under coordination, of course. Acting in concert with other countries and closely communicating with them are both very important points. In that context, communication with Russia and the U.S. is also important. Foreign ministerial telephone conferences are under coordination.

Watanabe, NHK: In relation to the first question, the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted unanimously for joining Russia. How do you evaluate such a voice, so to speak a locals voice or public opinion? To be sure, territorial integrity must be respected by all means. On the other hand, however, the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea made a resolution in favor of joining Russia. How does Japan evaluate such a situation?

Minister Kishida: I believe that this is an issue that has to do with Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Such matters, the sovereignty and territorial unity, must be respected. From this viewpoint, as various further moves are planned, we will closely observe them.

Mizuuchi, Sankei Shimbun: Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama decided to impose sanctions. Please tell us your view on that and whether the Government of Japan will respond in line with such a move. I understand that you promised Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that you would meet with him in Moscow in April. I would like to ask once again whether that appointment is unchanged at this point.

Minister Kishida: As for the U.S. move for sanctions, in the current situation, Japan’s policy is to respond appropriately while closely monitoring the move you mentioned and the changing situation in Ukraine. My schedules, such as my visit to Russia, have been unchanged in the current situation. Nevertheless, I intend to closely monitor further developments of the situation.

Torinari, Kyodo Press: Last night, you indicated your intention to consider extending assistance to Ukraine going forward. Please tell us the expected field and scale of assistance currently under deliberation.

Minister Kishida: The current situation in Ukraine poses various challenges. The greatest one, however, is apparently the harsh financial situation., I have been briefed that an IMF inquiry team will go to the country to conduct survey on the financial situation. I believe concrete figures and other elements of the assistance will come to be identified based on talks with the IMF and Ukraine. Looking at those moves, Japan will decide in specific terms, the content and scale of our assistance. That is my view. In any event, I intend to give positive consideration to such financial assistance. In conjunction with such assistance, I expect political dialogue will be held.

Watanabe, NHK: Concerning the current interim Ukrainian Government, Russia insists that the interim Government lacks constitutional grounds and that it is not founded on the Constitution. How does Japan look at the Government at this point?

Minister Kishida: I believe the interim Government was formed by Ukraine’s internal moves. I am aware that the interim government was established based on current Ukrainian procedures.