(* 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 Katsuya Okada

Date: Friday, January 8, 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Statements
    • (1) Emergency Grant Aid for the Electoral Process in the Republic of Burundi
    • (2) Japan-Germany Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
    • (3) Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
  2. The Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan and other Issues)
  3. The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan (Talks Between the Chairman of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party Shigeru Ishiba, Senior Officials of the Obama Administration and Others)
  4. The Concept of the Japan-US Security Arrangements, the Japan-US Security Alliance and the Japan-US Alliance
  5. Protests against the Scientific Whaling
  6. A Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Declaration
  7. A Hit-and-Run Accident in Okinawa Prefecture
  8. Development of Anti-Terrorism Measures at Airports
  9. Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mitoji Yabunaka’s Visit to the United States
  10. Foreign Residents’ Voting Rights in Local Elections

1. Opening Statements

(1) Emergency Grant Aid for the Electoral Process in the Republic of Burundi

Minister:
I forgot to say this at the doorstepping interview after today’s Cabinet Meeting, but at that meeting a decision was made to extend emergency grant aid for the electoral process in the Republic of Burundi. This assistance will be extended to support the implementation of the presidential, parliamentary, and local elections in the Republic of Burundi to be held between May and September 2010. Approximately US$1.7 million (approximately \175 million) in emergency grant aid will be provided through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

These elections will take place following the conclusion of a civil war which began in the 1990's and the disarmament of insurgents. The elections are also important for the consolidation of peace in Burundi. Japan decided to provide this grant aid in consideration of the significance of these elections as well as bilateral relations between the two countries. Japan hopes that progress will be made in democratization and national reconciliation through a fair and smooth electoral process in accordance with the planned schedule.

(2) Japan-Germany Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Minister:
Next is about the visit to Japan by Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Guido Westerwelle. A new coalition government was launched in Germany and Dr. Guido Westerwelle, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, is scheduled to visit Japan on January 14 and 15. On January 14, we are scheduled to have a Japan-Germany foreign ministers’ meeting. This visit is the first by a German Minister for Foreign Affairs since the launch of the new administration and will be the first opportunity for the two countries of Japan and Germany to meet. I look forward to exchanging opinions on a wide range of topics, starting with bilateral issues between Japan and Germany as well as global issues, such as nuclear issues and global warming.

(3) Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Minister:
Next I would like to talk about my visit to the United States. I will have a Japan-US foreign ministers’ meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on January 12 in Honolulu. I intend to conduct a meaningful exchange of opinions on a wide range of topics such as the future role of the Japan-US Alliance, including the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station, as well as global issues such as the situation of the Asia Pacific region including North Korea, nuclear non-proliferation, and nuclear disarmament.

2. The Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan and other Issues)

Question (Reynold, Reuters):
On the topic of your meeting with Secretary Clinton on January 12, what do you hope to get out of the meeting the most?

Minister:
I hope to meet with Secretary Clinton as often as possible and continuously exchange opinions. It has been a while since I last met her in Singapore and I think that this will be a good opportunity to talk. One objective this time is of course to speak with her directly and make the Japanese government’s position on the Futenma issue clear, although I already did so at the end of last year, and also conveyed our position to the US government through our embassy. At the same time, instead of letting the matter stop there, I hope to hold a frank exchange of opinions on the future role of the Japan-US Alliance and what actions we will take based on those opinions. This year happens to be a milestone year, the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty, so I would like to bring talks between our two nations back to the more fundamental subject of the future of the Japan-US Alliance. The exchange of opinions this time should also serve as a precursor to that. Of course as I said earlier, I also plan to exchange opinions on various global topics, as well as issues regarding North Korea, which are common points of interest to both countries.

Question (Nakamoto, The Financial Times):
Regarding your meeting with Secretary Clinton, it seems that Japan-US relations are rather rocky these days. How do you view the current situation of Japan-US relations? Do you think that this meeting with Secretary Clinton is an indication that Japan-US relations are moving forward? Additionally, I do not fully understand the part about the fundamentals of the Japan-US Security Treaty. Could you please elaborate on what you will discuss with Secretary Clinton?

Minister:
I don’t think I used the term Japan-US Security Treaty, but what I meant was that I would like to conduct concrete discussions on the Futenma issue, and take the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty to further deepen the Japan-US Alliance. Japan-US relations are not necessarily without problems. Especially now various discussions are going on regarding the Futenma issue. However, as I have previously stated on many occasions during my press conferences, quite frankly, while those in the Republican party, or in the case of Japan, those in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), strongly express their opinions that Japan-US relations are not working at all, there is more to it than these one-sided views. I have talked with the State Department through diplomatic channels and have had the opportunity to hold a telephone conversation with Secretary Clinton at the end of last year, and I believe that we share a common understanding of the importance of the Japan-US Alliance and that we should firmly commit to deepening it so that it will continue for another 30 or 50 years.

Question (Kaminishigawara, Kyodo News):
At a previous press conference, I believe you stated that when you meet Secretary Clinton directly, you would like to propose that you hold talks, separately from the Futenma issue, reviewing the Japan-US Alliance and measures to reduce the burden of the bases on Okinawa.

Minister:
I do not recall saying this.

Question (Kaminishigawara, Kyodo News):
In any case, I believe that the US side has strong intentions to resolve the Futenma issue before doing anything else. Is this meeting positioned as the substantial start of discussions for the review of the Alliance during the 50th anniversary of the Japan-US Security Treaty? Additionally, do you have any intention to propose that talks for measures to reduce the burden of the bases on Okinawa, covering issues such as noise pollution, be held separately from meetings concerning Futenma?

Minister:
Regarding whether it will be the substantial start of discussions, while I hope to hold thorough discussions, it is not an occasion meant specifically for that purpose. We are still at the opinion exchange stage. As for the issue of reducing the burden of the bases, such as Futenma and Kadena, of course I would like to discuss these issues parallel to other discussions. This meeting however, is more an opportunity to sort out the issues to be discussed rather than an opportunity for concrete discussions.

Question (Onuki, Mainichi Shimbun):
Regarding talks to deepen the Japan-US Alliance and your statement just now about not having used the term Japan-US Security Treaty, it has been more than 100 days since you took up the position of Minister for Foreign Affairs. Since the beginning of your term you have talked about a Japan-US Alliance that can continue on for 30-50 years. Can you tell us about your image of such an alliance?

Minister:
We will have Japan-US consultations to discuss that. What I have been saying is that we must make efforts in order to deepen the Japan-US Alliance and enable it to last for another 30 or 50 years.

Question (Mizushima, Jiji Press):
Regarding consultations on the 50th anniversary of the Japan-US Security Treaty, you stated that this meeting with Secretary Clinton was not for the specific purpose of holding talks to deepen the Alliance. Do you have any intentions of deciding beforehand on an outline of a schedule or to what extent you will take action?

Minister:
I would like to talk to you about what has been decided after the discussions, but it is my basic policy not to talk about things before they have been discussed.

Question (Beppu, NHK):
Regarding the Japan-US foreign ministers’ meeting, I believe you have already conveyed the Japanese government’s policy regarding Futenma over the phone to Secretary Clinton. At your meeting this time, do you plan to explain anything further than your previous explanation? Additionally, what is the difference between your telephone conversation on the Futenma issue and a direct meeting?

Minister:
Regarding Futenma, there is nothing new. As I said earlier, I have explained Japan’s policy many times through diplomatic channels, through the US embassy in Japan, through US Ambassador John Roos, through Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, as well as over the phone. Therefore there will be nothing new to say on this topic. The meeting this time is not only for explaining the Japanese government’s policy, but also to thoroughly exchange opinions on this as well as on future proceedings. I believe that the US Secretary of State and the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs should meet more frequently, and I believe this is a good opportunity for that. Of course, this time we have actual issues to discuss, but even if we didn’t have anything specific to discuss, I think it would still be important that we meet.

Question (Sakamaki, Bloomberg News):
Regarding your meeting with Secretary Clinton and the deepening of the Alliance, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty. The signing of the treaty took place on January 19, which is right around the corner. Is anything, such as the announcement of a new agreement between Japan and the United States, scheduled to take place? Additionally, June will mark 50 years since the Treaty went into effect, and another Japan-US summit meeting may take place this year. Do you have a target for when you would like to have an agreement between Japan and the United States ready?

Minister:
Those would be topics for Japan and the United States to exchange opinions on.

Question (Uesugi, Freelance):
Do you plan to exchange opinions with Secretary Clinton on the issue of the secret agreements at the Japan-US foreign ministers’ meeting?

Minister:
I plan to talk about what originally made the issue of the so-called secret agreements come to light. Additionally, the verification committee and the third party committee are still in the process of discussing various aspects of this issue, and a conclusion has not yet been made, so I also plan to explain a little about the current situation.

Question (Uchida, Asahi Shimbun):
Regarding the Japan-US foreign ministers’ meeting, at a press conference on January 7, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell revealed that Secretary Clinton will bring up the importance of advancing the Futenma issue at the foreign ministers’ meeting of January 12. I believe you have already explained the Japanese government’s policy to Secretary Clinton. Do you think she understands that it is Japan’s policy to come to a conclusion by May? If there is a difference in understanding between Japan and the United States, do you think that difference can be corrected at this foreign ministers’ meeting?

Minister:
I believe it is a matter of how you define the term “understanding.” The US side is arguing that the current plan is the only plan, and I believe they will continue to argue this whether it is March or May or even further in the future. There is a difference in our understanding there, but we are discussing things with the understanding of that difference.

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
Regarding the Japan-US foreign ministers’ meeting, you stated just now that State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Takemasa reported on the verification committee’s report at meeting of the Council of the Three-level Political Appointees of the Foreign Ministry. The verification committee reported that each political party will most likely propose an alternate location site by January and then the locations will be discussed. From each party’s tours of various locations, locations such as Shimoji Island or Omura Base have come up. Do you have any plans to tell Secretary Clinton about the contents of the discussions by the verification committee, including that such locations are being considered? If you do not plan to discuss this in detail, will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs convey the discussions of the verification committee to the US side regarding what Japan is doing right now and that these locations have come up and are being considered? Additionally, is the “unification of diplomacy” that Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano talks about something that the Minister for Foreign Affairs will do, or something that the Chief Cabinet Secretary will handle, as he seems to be saying?

Minister:
I do not plan to talk about the concrete details discussed by the verification committee at my meeting in Hawaii with Secretary Clinton, as these are still under discussion. However, I believe it will be necessary to give a brief explanation stating that we are conducting discussions in this way. As for Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano, if the verification committee comes up with some kind of conclusion, I believe an exchange of opinions with the United States will become necessary, and of course Mr. Hirano understands that it will be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ job or the Minister for Foreign Affairs’ job to do so.

3. The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan (Talks Between the Chairman of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party Shigeru Ishiba, Senior Officials of the Obama Administration and Others)

Question (Nanao, Nico Nico Douga):
My question is on behalf of our users. This is about the meetings between Chairman of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party Shigeru Ishiba, senior officials of the Obama administration, and others, which took place a few days ago. On January 6, Mr. Ishiba met with National Security Council (NSC) Asia Senior Director Jeffrey Bader, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Wallace C. Gregson in Washington, D.C. During this meeting, the US side reportedly argued, “Henoko is the conclusion we reached after considering all possibilities in the past. Although we do not intend to interfere with Japan’s domestic policies, there is no other appropriate location.” Could you please tell us your thoughts on these meetings?

Minister:
To begin with, I cannot say whether or not there really was such talk since I only heard about this indirectly from news reports. Nevertheless, the substance of the statement agrees with the US’s consistent stance that the current plan to relocate to the coastal area of Henoko, as previously agreed upon between Japan and the US, is the only possible plan. Now, we have begun to consider alternative plans to this in the working group established under the Chief Cabinet Secretary, and I think we are required to come up with a plan that is more convincing than the current one. If we come up with such a plan, I don’t think there will be any reason for the US side to reject it.

4. The Concept of the Japan-US Security Arrangements, the Japan-US Security Alliance and the Japan-US Alliance

Question (Iwakami, Freelance):
You make a sharp distinction between the Japan-US Security and the Japan-US Alliance when you talk about them, but I suppose many Japanese people remain unaware of the difference between these two concepts. I am not confident about this myself, and am currently studying related works. One such work is “Uncovering the Japan-US Alliance” written by Ukeru Magosaki, an ex-director of the Intelligence and Analysis Service Bureau of MOFA – not to say that it would be problem if he were a private individual. Mr. Magosaki has chaired Prime Minister Hatoyama’s private study group and is an influential figure in the Hatoyama Cabinet. He recently proposed Oura, Nagasaki Prefecture, as a relocation site for Futenma Air Station. According to Mr. Magosaki, the difference in the definitions of “security” and “alliance” hinges on the latter being considered as concepts founded upon the document signed between Japan and the US in 2005. The greatest difference between the two terms is that while “security” covers Japan and the Far East, “alliance” supposes that Japan will cooperate with the US within its international strategy. He has commented that the nature of the Japan-US security system has been greatly altered from the way it was supposed to be. I apologize for such a long-winded question, but I would like to hear your thoughts on the distinction between “security” and “alliance” in a way that ordinary people can understand.

Minister:
To begin with, I think Mr. Magosaki met Prime Minister Hatoyama to report on the conclusion made by the study group which he chaired before the Prime Minister assumed his current office. His proposal must be the result of a debate that has occurred since before the inauguration of the Hatoyama Cabinet. It is not the case that the debate was started during the current administration.

My basic thinking on this issue is that there are three concepts that must be distinguished: the Japan-US Security Arrangements, the Japan-US Security Alliance, and the Japan-US Alliance.

The Japan-US Security Arrangements, as you say, cover Japan and the Far East based on the Japan-US Security Treaty. Their core is the security arrangements for the areas stipulated in the treaty. Actually, the wording of the treaty allows a little more room for expansion, but strictly speaking that is the essence of this concept.

The Japan-US Security Alliance refers to the Japan-US relationship in the area of security. This goes beyond the Japan-US Security Treaty and can be said to cover a greater scope since the US forces in Japan are active across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, not just limited to Japan and the Far East.

The Japan-US Alliance is not only about security. I understand it as being broader and having various aspects, including political and cultural ones.

Therefore, there is a geographic expansion from the concept of the Japan-US Security Arrangements to the concept of the Japan-US Security Alliance, and there is an inclusion of other areas besides security when we speak of the concept of the Japan-US Alliance. That is my understanding.

Question (Iwakami, Freelance):
Among the three concepts, it seems obvious that the Japan-US Security Arrangements refer to the treaty signed 50 years ago. Which agreement or treaty forms the foundation for the second one, the Japan-US Security Alliance, and the third one, the Japan-US Alliance?

Minister:
There may or may not be a clearly indicated document depending on the concept. The Japan-US Security Arrangements are aimed at securing the peace and security of Japan and the Far East, but do not stipulate against using bases for other purposes, and therefore are interpreted more broadly. I think one of the documents that clearly endorses this idea is the Japan-US Joint Declaration on Security signed in 1996, which redefined the Japan-US security relationship. Since the document refers to a broader area beyond security, we could see it as leading to the second concept and the third concept as well. What we must discuss now is the Japan-US Alliance in the broad sense. If there is an opportunity, I would like to debate this during the landmark year of the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty.

5. Protests against the Scientific Whaling

Question (Hitomi, AP):
My questions concerns the collision on January 6 of Japan’s scientific whaling vessel and a Sea Shepherd vessel. What is your reaction to the incident and what measures are you considering to protect Japanese lives and assets in the wake of such an incident? At a press conference yesterday the Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries yesterday said, “It may be possible, for example, to hold a dialogue on giving a certain form of protection to the vessel and its crew by condemning Sea Shepherd’s activities as acts of piracy.” What specific countermeasures are you considering?

Minister:
I intend to firmly protest against the various acts against Japanese vessels, which are  intended to obstruct their navigation and endanger lives and property. We have made a strong protest to the New Zealand government, since the Ady Gil, the Sea Shepherd vessel that caused this collision incident, was registered in that country. If such a situation continues, I think we must not only discuss this issue with the countries concerned, but also protest resolutely against these acts so that they are not allowed to repeat.

Question (Hitomi, AP):
In this context, do you contemplate discussing anti-piracy measures as a tool in addition to diplomatic efforts?

Minister:
I think we must first of all have a thorough discussion with the countries concerned.

6. A Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Declaration

Question (Higashioka, Asahi Shimbun):
There were some news reports today stating that the governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are considering a new joint declaration to be issued this year. Specifically, the reports say that the joint declaration will concern the area of security. Is this being considered? If it is, could you please tell us about the declaration’s content and objective?

Minister:
The two countries are not discussing anything specific right now, just as the Prime Minister stated earlier today.

Question (Saito, Kyodo News):
Concerning the Japan-ROK joint declaration just mentioned, you replied that right now there is no specific talk on the matter. Apart from this however, could you please tell us your thoughts as to whether or not there would be significance at this stage in issuing a message in the form of a joint declaration with the ROK on stepping up each county’s commitment in the area of security, in light of the East Asian security situation which surrounds Japan today?

Minister:
I believe I should refrain from saying my personal opinion on the significance of such a statement. I can only say that there is no discussion on this within the government at this moment.

7. A Hit-and-Run Accident in Okinawa Prefecture

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
My question is on the hit-and-run accident in Y A Hit-and-Run Accident in Okinawa Prefecture omitan Village in Okinawa. The suspect in this accident was prosecuted and extradited yesterday. A pre-prosecution extradition, which the people of Okinawa had called for, did not occur this time. Instead, the suspect was extradited after the case was sent to the prosecutors’ office. Listening to your explanations in the past, I came to think that the current framework contains some problems. I am aware of the view that you expressed previously, but could you please tell us once again what your current opinion on this issue is? The investigators will look into the case and explore the possibility of identifying it as a hit-and-run accident. The incident is currently being treated as case of negligent driving leading to death. The reason the investigation has not yet progressed toward its goal of building a case seems to be the suspect’s refusal to make statements. What do you think of this problem?

Minister:
First of all, as far as I understand, the suspect was arrested on the suspicion of causing a hit-and-run accident. Initially, the suspect was prosecuted and held in custody for negligent driving leading to death. That was the decision that the police made. This incident has been deemed a criminal case by the police, and I believe the measures taken this time represent the best possible direction for the investigation to proceed in. By which I mean measures to arrest the suspect, prosecute him, and present evidence at trial.

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
Probably my question is more about the way the police conduct investigations. You and other officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have emphasized repeatedly that the opportunity to give interviews with the criminal is ensured and that Japan has gained cooperation from the United States in this respect. I wonder how freely the Japanese side can hold interviews with someone being held in custody in a US base. You cite the Code of Criminal Procedure of Japan to argue that there is no difference between the case in question and a case involving a Japanese national in terms of the amount of freedom given for interviews. But I think otherwise. In fact, this difference, I believe, has become a major problem. Please tell us of your view on this.

Minister:
According to the Code of Criminal Procedure of Japan, you cannot hold someone in custody forcefully without arresting him/her. You can only ask for a voluntary interview. In this sense, I see no difference. I believe that the measures taken this time are in accordance with the stipulations of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Japan.

8. Development of Anti-Terrorism Measures at Airports

Question (Nanao, Nico Nico Douga):
My question is on behalf of our users. It is about the development of anti-terrorism measures at airports around the world. In response to the attempted destruction of a US aircraft at the end of the last year, Canada, following the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, announced that it would introduce a safety inspection measure at major airports in the country to scan the entire body of passengers. President of the United States Barack Obama has also given instructions to strengthen anti-terrorism measures. What is your take on these global developments in anti-terrorism measures?

Minister:
Anti-terrorism measures are something for each country to decide on their own. The government of each country determines safety measures and uses different methods for places with higher levels of danger or more pressing needs. There are of course various issues to consider, including the issue of privacy, but at the same time, nothing is more important than life.

9. Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mitoji Yabunaka’s Visit to the United States

Question (Igarashi, Asahi Shimbun):
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mitoji Yabunaka visited the United States early in the new year and met with Deputy Secretary of State of the United States James B. Steinberg. You will soon visit the United States as well, immediately after Vice-Minister Yabunaka’s visit. How do you see and evaluate the outcome of the Vice-Minister’s visit to the United States?

Minister:
I am sure that Vice-Minister Yabunaka’s visit to the United States, in which he exchanged views with a US official whom he had known for many years, has helped deepen mutual understanding between Japan and the United States. Perhaps, the US side has been a bit confused by the number of Japanese people in various positions, who were not necessarily representing the Japanese government, coming to talk with them. I think those in the US must always wonder to what extent talks will relate to the government. Given these circumstances, I would like to think that the Vice-Minister’s visit to the United States has been the first step in streamlining the diplomatic routes between the two nations, laying the groundwork for the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage in talks with the US Secretary of State or the State Department.

10. Foreign Residents’ Voting Rights in Local Elections

Question (Iwakami, Freelance):
I would like to ask about the issue of foreign residents’ voting rights in local elections. Whether or not the bill on this issue will be submitted to the ordinary session of the Diet will be a crucial issue once the ordinary session is convened. At the same time, I am anxious to know the developments in permanent foreign residents’ mother countries. Many of the permanent foreign residents in Japan are from the Republic of Korea (ROK). How does the ROK government view this issue? What impact will the issue have on diplomatic relations between Japan and the ROK? Earlier you spoke about the deepening of the Japan-US alliance. What impact do you think the issue of voting rights for foreign residents will have on Japan’s diplomatic relations with the ROK, regardless of the decision to grant them or not? Do you think, as a Cabinet member and a Diet member, that voting rights in local elections should be granted? Please also tell us of your view as the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the bill related to this issue. Do you think it will have a positive impact on Japan’s diplomatic relations with other nations? Or do you think it will have a negative impact?

Minister:
The government has not started its official discussions on this issue. I will express my view as the Minister for Foreign Affairs once we reach a stage in which the government is able to make a formal decision. I am afraid that it would be inappropriate to remark on this issue prior to any decision-making.


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