Press Conference by Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura

Date: Thursday, October 26, 2005, 04:00 p.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

I have two points to make.

Firstly, I wish to announce that the Governments of Japan and the DPRK have agreed to hold governmental consultations in Beijing from November 3 (Thu). As you are aware, it has been agreed in the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks that the consultations of this kind should be held. There have been correspondences between the working levels of both sides, but I am announcing it as we have reached an agreement.

Needless to say, the governmental consultations this time round have been firmly grounded on the agreement (Joint Statement) in the previous Six-Party Talks. With this regard, the resumption of the consultations is of significance not only for the both sides but also for the countries concerned, as well as for entire Asia.

With regard to the agenda to be discussed, as I have been saying, it is natural to take up not only nuclear issues but also a wide range of matters of great concern particularly to Japan, such as missile or abduction issues. I assume that in the meeting, the issue of the settlement of the past, to which the North Korean side attaches importance, will also be discussed. I am of the view that the abduction issue, in particular, needs to be resolved as quickly as possible bearing in mind the fact that the issue is of great concern for the Japanese public, and the severe situations that families of the abductees have been faced with over the years.

In the consultations, the Japanese side will be headed by Mr. Akitaka Saiki, Deputy Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and the North Korean side will be headed by Mr. Son Ilho, Deputy Director-General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK. This concludes my announcement on Japan-DPRK consultations.

The next topic has also been attracting your interest. It is about the consultations between Japan and the US on the transformation and realignment of US Forces.

Ever since I assumed my position as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have put in a great deal of energy into this issue. Last February, Common Strategic Objectives were acknowledged in the 2+2 Meeting. We are holding the 2+2 this time on October 29 (Sat) in Washington D.C., provided that the Diet gives approval. In the Meeting, we wish to discuss the following two points in addition to the Common Strategic Objectives: firstly, the roles, missions and capability that Japan and the US should fulfill, and secondly, the outline of the realigned US Forces.

With these, the trilogy, as we had originally been anticipated, will be concluded. This achievement can be considered to be in its middle stages, and the final report should be agreed officially between both Japanese and US Governments after a certain period of time. This, therefore, is not final at this moment.

As to the issue of the site for the relocation of Futenma Air Station, there have been various news reports, mostly erroneous. The plan we agreed on this time -- although a rather recent one was -- was proposed by Japan and accepted by the US. The plan was to construct the site by utilizing the coast of Ohura Gulf and the south shore of Camp Shwab. Consequently, the US accepted Japan's proposal.

The details of the interim report will be made public after the 2+2 Meeting in Washington D.C., as the wordings or how the documents should be translated need to go through a final check at the working-level. Because it is very difficult to balance the reduction of burden and the maintenance of deterrence, we are not yet certain as to how this will be accepted by the local communities. Explanations to local communities have already started in some parts, and will be done in full-scale mainly by the Japan Defense Agency, to municipal officials, although the explanations during the next one or two days prior to the 2+2 Meeting will inevitably be unofficial in nature.

We are not certain whether the local communities' understandings can be obtained at this stage. We intend to make our utmost efforts to enhance the understandings of the local communities during the time between the interim report and the final report.

The final agreement reached today has been concluded by Mr. Lawless of the US Department of Defense, myself, and Mr. Ohno, Director General of the Defense Agency. I also wish to add that many have made great efforts in concluding today's agreement, including those of the Deputy Director-General level.

Related Information (Japan-North Korea Relations)
Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)

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