(* 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 Hirofumi Nakasone

Date: Friday, January 30, 2009, 9:52 a.m.
Place: In front of the Ministers' Room in the House

Main topics:

  1. The Cancellation of the Provision of Humanitarian Relief Goods for the Residents of the Northern Territories
  2. North Korean Issues

1. The Cancellation of the Provision of Humanitarian Relief Goods for the Residents of the Northern Territories

Question:
Regarding the incident in which the Russian side requested the submission of disembarkation cards from those who went to the Northern Territories to deliver humanitarian relief goods, a Russian official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that they had given prior notification that the submission of disembarkation cards would be necessary and that it was a technical matter that is requested of everyone. The official also said that Russia would continue to request disembarkation cards and that it was a technical matter which the Japanese side was trying to make into a political issue, and that it was questionable whether Japan really meant to extend humanitarian aid. What are your thoughts regarding this?

Minister:
This humanitarian aid was planned to bring medical equipments and other goods to the residents of the Northern Territories and was extended out of goodwill, so this is very unfortunate. We were able to deliver goods without any problems in 2007 and 2008, and I believed that we would have been able to continue this in the same way. In any case, since the Russian side is making such statements, I believe that it is important for Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the matter with its counterpart. In this way I hope to make efforts to reach a resolution.

Question:
There is talk that the Prime Minister may hold a Japan-Russia summit meeting in mid-February in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Given this incident as well as a prior incident in which a fishing vessel was seized in Tottori, there are opinions that it might be inappropriate to hold a summit meeting before these issues have been resolved. What is your opinion on this?

Minister:
This humanitarian aid issue and the issue of the seized fishing vessel are very serious issues. They must be resolved as soon as possible. If there will be a Japan-Russia summit meeting, various issues between the two countries from international affairs to bilateral concerns will be discussed. I do not believe that this incident will have a critical effect on the Japan-Russia summit meeting. On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must make appropriate discussions regarding the issues of the seized vessel as well as this issue of the submission of disembarkation cards to enter Kunashiri.

Question:
To confirm the issue of the submission of disembarkation cards, is it correct to understand that the request was limited to the humanitarian aid at this time? There are also frameworks for non-visa exchanges and visits to graves in the Northern Territories. What is your opinion on this?

Minister:
I do not know about that. I believe that this request started from this time and we have had non-visa exchanges and other visits until now, so I hope that this incident does not affect other visits. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will conduct discussions with its counterpart to that effect.

Question:
In discussions regarding the future of the Northern Territories, is there a possibility that the Japanese side will have to start submitting disembarkation cards? There have been many conditions imposed. Even if there is no legal stance, is there a possibility that filling out the cards in some way will become mandatory?

Minister:
Given this incident, we will conduct discussions with our counterparts, as I have repeatedly stated. As for the Japanese side, because the Northern Territories are part of our sovereign territory, the humanitarian aid unit turned back this time, without filling out the disembarkation cards.

Related Information (Japan's Northern Territories)

2. North Korean Issues

Question:
Regarding the matter of former North Korean agent Kim Hyun Hui, you previously stated that the Japanese Government would like to interview her and also arrange a meeting with Ms.Yaeko Taguchi's family. Has the situation progressed since then?

Minister:
As I have stated previously, we have been making efforts to realize this meeting. As to interviewing her, we have interviewed her previously and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is continuing with its efforts.

Question:
North Korea issued a statement yesterday regarding the Republic of Korea, declaring that all agreements relating to the resolution of political and military issues between the North and the South are now void. What is your opinion on this?

Minister:
I am not aware of the exact wording or contents of the actual statement issued by North Korea. However, first of all, this is an issue between North Korea and the ROK. In any case, the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula is important to Japan and to the international community, so I hope that this issue will be resolved in a stable manner. As it is an issue between those two countries, I will refrain from making any direct comments.

Related Information (Abduction Cases of Japanese Nationals)


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