(* 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: Monday, June 22, 2009, 10:46 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Statements
    • (1) Attendance by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the OECD Council Meeting at the Ministerial Level and G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting
    • (2) Situation in Iran
  2. North Korean Issues
  3. Secret Agreement between Japan and the US on the Transportation of Nuclear Weapons

1. Opening Statements

(1) Attendance by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the OECD Council Meeting at the Ministerial Level and G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Minister:
With an approval of the Cabinet Meeting this morning, I am going to visit Paris, France and Trieste, Italy from June 25 to June 27 to attend the OECD Council Meeting at the Ministerial Level and G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. I will leave on the night of June 24. The main theme for the coming OECD Council Meeting is "The Crisis and beyond: building a stronger, cleaner, fairer world economy." I will attend the session on "Green growth and water." At the G8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, discussions will be held on important diplomatic issues that the international community faces, such as disarmament and non-proliferation, measures against acts of piracy, peace in the Middle East, North Korea, and Iran. Additionally, an outreach meeting for Afghanistan and Pakistan is also scheduled to be held. We are arranging bilateral meetings with some Ministers during my stay in Trieste.

Question:
For your bilateral meetings in Trieste, could you name the countries you've already decided to meet?

Minister:
I would like to use this opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with as many countries as possible. However, as the schedule has not been set yet, I cannot say at this point with which countries and when. I especially hope, of course, to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. However, as you know, she is currently injured. I would like to hold as many bilateral meetings with other countries as time will allow.

Related Information (Press Release)

(2) Situation in Iran

Minister:
I would like to say a few words on the situation in Iran following the presidential election. As I stated last week, Japan believes that the conflict surrounding the results of the presidential election in the Islamic Republic of Iran is an issue that should be resolved through the wisdom and efforts of the Iranian Government and the people of Iran, and we have been watching the development of the situation carefully. We are deeply concerned over the deaths and injuries that have occurred as the protests continue. Japan believes that situations leading to the emergence of victims must be avoided and strongly requests for a peaceful resolution. Japan will continue to watch over the situation with a great deal of interest to see whether it will be appropriately dealt with under the Iranian system. We believe that it is important that the opinions and statements of both sides are adequately respected during this process.

Question:
Regarding concern over casualties, does the Japanese Government plan to do anything toward the Iranian Government?

Minister:
We believe that this is primarily an issue that should be resolved between the Iranian Government and the people of Iran, regarding the issue as turbulence over the results of the election. This is the Government's opinion, as this is a matter regarding to post-election confusion. The situation is now changing, due to events such as the speech by Supreme leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei. We will consider what to do in the future, taking the development of the situation into consideration.

Question:
You stated that respect for freedom of speech was important. By this do you mean that in the current state of affairs freedom of speech is not respected? For example, there is the situation in which the media, including foreign media, is restricted or forbidden from reporting freely, and this has been continuing for some time. Additionally, there is concern over whether protestors will be allowed to freely express their opinions. Was your statement reflecting this sort of situation?

Minister:
I would like to say that in such a state of turbulence, it is not one side or the other that is in the wrong. Generally speaking, order is important, orderly conduct is important, and freedom of speech must be secured. The current situation is occurring as a result of a presidential election which the international community took a great deal of interest in. I hope that Iran will handle the matter in as open a manner as possible in response to the concerns of the international community. As was just mentioned, we are also concerned about the expulsion and detainment of members of the foreign press.

Related Information (Press Release)

2. North Korean Issues

Question:
Deliberations over legislation concerning cargo inspections of North Korean vessels is currently underway between the ruling and opposition parties. It seems that the biggest point of debate is whether the responsible organization should be the Japan Coast Guard or the Maritime Self-Defense Force. What is your opinion on this?

Minister:
This matter is currently under review by the Government. I cannot comment on what form it will take. The important thing is that we make UN Security Council Resolution 1874 effective. What Japan should do regarding this and what legal measures are necessary for this are currently under deliberation by the Government, so I cannot comment on the current situation nor state my own opinion.

Question:
Do you think that it is desirable for the legislation to be passed during this Diet session, with the cooperation of the opposition parties?

Minister:
I believe that it is important to have framework for the resolution in place as soon as possible, as it has been adopted. Of course, this is not an issue of the ruling and opposition parties. It is a matter of the international community's decision on a resolution in response to a nuclear test by the nearby North Korea. It is a question of what Japan should do to make the UN resolution effective and what measures we should take. Therefore, I believe that it is desirable for the ruling and opposition parties to handle this matter in a unified manner.

Related Information (North Korean Nuclear Issue)

3. Secret Agreement between Japan and the US on the Transportation of Nuclear Weapons

Question:
There have been some media reports regarding former Vice Ministers of Foreign Affairs stating that the reason for setting the limit of Japanese territorial waters at three nautical miles instead of 12 in the Soya Strait and other major Japanese straits was so that it would be easier for US forces to transport nuclear weapons. As Foreign Minister, what do you know about this matter?

Minister:
I am aware of the media reports. Additionally, I answered questions regarding these specific waters at a recent Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the House of Representatives. As I have repeatedly stated, at the time when the Territorial Waters Act was established in 1977, Japan decided that it was appropriate to ensure the free passage of foreign vessels in the five straits that constitute Japan's coastal waters, taking into consideration that Japan is a maritime state, and that as a developed industrial country it was important that trade vessels, large tankers, and other vessels would be able to pass through these straits, which are strategic points of international transport and indispensable from the viewpoint of comprehensive national interest. This was the reason for setting the boundaries at the current three nautical miles.

Question:
Was there no military consideration for the US?

Minister:
The reason was as I just stated. Japan is a maritime nation and vessels need to be able pass freely. There was no military aspect to this decision.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Relations)


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