(* 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 15, 2010, 2:35 p.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Statement
    • (1) Dispatch of the Japan Disaster Relief Team (JDRT) to Haiti
  2. Termination of the Refueling Activities conducted by the Marine Self-Defense Force (MSDF) in the Indian Ocean (Assistance toward Afghanistan)
  3. The Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
  4. 50th Anniversary of the Signing of US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security
  5. The Japan Airlines (JAL) Issue
  6. The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan (Possible Effect of the Nago Mayoral Election)
  7. Emergency Assistance to Haiti for the Earthquake Disaster
  8. Internet Regulation in China
  9. Deepening of the Japan-US Alliance
  10. Prior Notification about the Transit of Nuclear Submarines

1. Opening Statement

(1) Dispatch of the Japan Disaster Relief Team (JDRT) to Haiti

Minister:
First of all, concerning the earthquake disaster in Haiti, we have decided to dispatch a medical team of the Japan Disaster Relief Team (JDRT), based on the International Disaster Relief Law, in order to provide disaster relief to Haiti. The medical team consists of JICA-registered medical professionals, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and JICA staff, and will provide medical relief for the disaster-stricken.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently negotiating with the Ministry of Defense on transporting the medical team members and their equipment from Miami to Haiti on the C-130 aircrafts of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). The team of a little over 20 people in total will leave Narita Airport for Miami on January 16, tomorrow. After comprehensively confirming from the survey team dispatched earlier the public security situation on the ground, any safety measures to be taken, and other information, the medical team will leave Miami and travel to Haiti. This could happen as early as January 17. Since the SDF C-130 aircrafts happen to be stationed in the United States (US) for training, we will be using the aircraft to transport the team.

Related Information (Aid to Haiti for the Earthquake Disaster)

2. Termination of the Refueling Activities conducted by the Marine Self-Defense Force (MSDF) in the Indian Ocean (Assistance toward Afghanistan)

Question (Saito, Kyodo News):
I have a question about the refueling activities by the Marine Self-Defense Force (MSDF) in the Indian Ocean. These activities will be terminated today. Can you tell us how you view the refueling activities conducted these past eight years and how you evaluate the results? Additionally, will the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) or the Hatoyama Cabinet come up with a new measure for personnel contributions?

Minister:
I think that the MSDF has done extremely well in a severe environment and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to them. The refueling activities have lasted a long time. I understand that initially the law for these activities was established in Japan in support of the United States’ right to self-defense and of the United Nations’ understanding of US actions after the September 11 terrorist attacks. However, with the fall of the regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is undeniable that these activities have gradually taken on a different meaning. Under these circumstances, the DPJ, as the opposition party, brought up various arguments at the Diet about continuing these activities under a basically similar framework of the initial law. Additionally, as I understand that the former administration did not conduct a full disclosure of information on the MSDF’s specific activities, there was speculation that the MSDF was conducting indirect refueling for warships participating in the war in Iraq. I believe that the government admitted that, in the initial stages, the MSDF provided refueling support to US warships that were directly involved with bombing Afghanistan. Therefore Japan’s actions led to both positive and negative evaluations. I think that at some point an investigation should take place, thinking back upon the situation. In any way, all that aside, I am truly grateful to the MSDF personnel who actually did this extremely difficult work in the Indian Ocean. On the issue of what we will do in the future, we do not plan to continue with refueling activities in the Indian Ocean as we have been doing. As for other forms of personnel assistance, we do not have any concrete plans at this time.

Question (Sato, Hokkaido Shimbun):
The MSDF will withdraw from refueling activities this time. However, the Hatoyama Administration has pledged a maximum of US$5 billion over 5 years toward civil assistance in Afghanistan. When you assumed office, you raised support to Afghanistan and Pakistan as one of the issues to be tackled in the first 100 days, and you stated at a press conference at the end of the year that “Japan has made responses to the issue of Afghanistan to some extent.” Realistically speaking, looking at the activities in Afghanistan, I think there are many stumbling blocks such as the worsening of the security situation or the structure of the Karzai administration. What plans do you have for the realization of civil assistance or for its actual implementation?

Minister:
The security situation does not remain the same. The situation is always changing. There were many issues with the Karzai administration in the beginning. However, I expect that they will establish a structure that will allow assistance from various countries to come in and that they will implement administration effectively moving forward. As for concrete assistance, we already announced it divided into three categories. In my meetings with various foreign ministers, such as with my Turkish and Russian foreign ministers, as well as yesterday with the German foreign minister, I have found many areas in which Japan can cooperate with other countries. I would like to conduct thorough and meaningful assistance in cooperation with other countries. Concretely, I would like to advance assistance in close consultation with the government of Afghanistan since it has not been long since the inauguration of the Karzai administration.

Question (Saito, Kyodo News):
I have supplementary questions regarding the refueling activities by the MSDF in the Indian Ocean. Just now in your response to a question, you stated that you are not currently considering any new personnel contribution at this time. Even if you are not considering anything currently, do you think there is need for the Hatoyama administration to come up with new assistance measures? Additionally, as I believe you touched on reviewing the role of peacekeeping operations (PKO) at a lecture last year, can you tell us if you have anything relating to this in mind?

Minister:
I am not really sure what your question is. Are you pointing to the problems in Afghanistan?

Question (Saito, Kyodo News):
What I am trying to say is that of course the target for the refueling activities was Afghanistan, but if you look at it more comprehensively over Afghanistan, you can take the refueling activities to be not only assistance for Afghanistan, but also a humanitarian contribution from Japan. There may be some argument as to whether my view is right or wrong, but do you think that there will be a need in the future for concrete measures to take wider principle of personnel contribution into perspective?

Minister:
I believe it would depend on your definition of personnel contribution, but currently there are Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials working in Afghanistan. There are also government and government-supported NGO personnel working, not only in Afghanistan, but also in other dangerous situations all over the world, and I believe their work will continue to be necessary.

If you meant activities by the Self-Defense Forces, currently there is a framework for PKO and putting aside whether the law will be revised or not, I believe there is more room for PKO activities to go on even under the current framework. However, nothing concrete has been decided yet.

Related Information (Counter Terrorism)

3. The Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Question (Noguchi, Mainichi Shimbun):
I would like to ask about the recent Japan-US Foreign Minister’ Meeting in Hawaii. During the meeting, Japan and the United States agreed to start talks to deepen the Japan-US Alliance. How do you intend to link these talks to the DPJ’s Policy Research Committee on the issue of the Okinawa Bases? The analysis to be conducted through the talks to develop common understanding on security relations in the Asia-Pacific region will, I think, naturally link to discussions to determine the degree of presence held by US bases and the locations of the US-bases in Japan. What is your view on this?

Minister:
I think it is very important to develop, as a precondition to various discussions, common understanding on the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region. The development of common understanding, however, does not necessarily link to discussions to determine the locations of the US bases in Japan, (you will understand this) if you take a look at a 1996 document compiled under Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Bill Clinton. These two matters are to be handled separately.   

Question (Nishino, Kyodo News):
About the document that you have just mentioned, you expressed your intention, at the press conference following the Japan-US Foreign Minister’ Meeting, of aiming to compile a document to replace the US-Japan Joint Declaration on Security issued by Prime Minister Hashimoto and President Clinton in 1996. However, you will need to take into account historical events after the issuance of the joint declaration, such as the establishment of The Law Concerning Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan. Will the roles of the Self-Defense Forces in the context of Japan’s security relations with the United States also be discussed during the talks?

Minister:
It is true that the declaration became a driving force for the establishment of the act concerning situations in areas surrounding Japan. At this moment, we do not envisage that the discussions we will conduct this time on the Japan-US Alliance will lead to amendments to laws or major systemic changes. A substantial amount of time has passed and the security situation has changed since then. As such, I am hoping to thoroughly discuss what Japan and the United States should do based on a common understanding of the new situation, and if possible compile the entire discussion into one document.   

Question (Iwakami, Freelance): 
Some of the freelance reporters and other reporters from internet media, including myself, could not attend the press conference in Hawaii. Internet media in particular is a good way to convey your thoughts directly to the people. Excuse me if you have already received a similar question, but could you please tell me in a comprehensive manner what was discussed and decided during your latest meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton?

Minister:
The meeting with US Secretary of State Clinton, or the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which was scheduled to last for 60 minutes, actually lasted for 80 minutes. We spent 30 minutes exchanging views on bilateral matters and the remaining 50 minutes on global issues. We discussed two things during the first 30 minutes when we discussed Japan-US bilateral relations. First, we spent less than 10 minutes discussing the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station. We devoted the majority of the first 30 minutes to an exchange of views on ways to thoroughly discuss once again the Japan-US Alliance in the year to come, as 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty, which I talked about earlier. We thus started discussions on concrete matters. We agreed in the end that the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and their counterparts in the United States would, for the time being, announce a 2+2 document in commemoration of January 19. It is planned that each leader of the two nations will announce a statement. On a related note, we agreed that first we should develop a common understanding of the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region and that we should start our discussions based on that shared understanding. It was decided that the ministers would hold a 2+2 meeting “sometime during the first half of this year,” and the discussions would be started at an administrative level. You might consider that these discussions have already started. One of the points that I stressed during the meeting was that the Japan-US Alliance was important both for peace in Japan and for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, in other words, the Japan-US Alliance has a dual goal of ensuring Japan’s security and peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

As for global issues, we discussed the issue of assistance to Afghanistan. Actually it was Secretary of State Clinton who took up the issue. She extended to me her heartfelt appreciation for the US$5 billion Japan will provide to Afghanistan. We confirmed that Japan and the United States would cooperate with each other in providing civilian assistance to Afghanistan. We also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue and the issue of democratization in Myanmar, given that an election is scheduled to take place there this year. On North Korean issues, Secretary of State Clinton, representing the United States, has made a statement on the abduction issue on a previous occasion, and I expressed my appreciation for that when we met in New York. Secretary of State Clinton talked to me about impressions she had when she met with abductee family members in Japan. The meeting seems to have left a strong impression on her. Secretary of State Clinton also took up issues such as climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and Japan’s subsidy for environment-friendly cars made in the United States. We exchanged views on these issues for 50 minutes. Our basic stance on these issues is almost the same – and this can also be said for yesterday’s Japan-Germany Foreign Ministers’ Meeting – so what we need to consider now is how we can move things forward together. This was our third meeting since we first met last September. We had a very significant, substantial discussion during the meeting.

Question (Iwakami, Freelance):
Immediately before your visit to the United States and the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on January 12, Secretary of State Clinton, on January 11, held a press conference for the local press at an air base in California. According to a report by the AFP, which was also carried in the Sankei Shimbun, Secretary of State Clinton used the expression “an alliance is larger than one issue” when she was describing her views ahead of the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. She was quoting the title of an article that Mr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr. contributed to the New York Times. This article strongly implies a change in the US diplomatic stance, urging that the United States should re-evaluate its long-held tough stand on Futenma and should not allow a hard-line stance to undermine Japan-US relations and the crucial Japan-US Alliance. Having learned from the report that Secretary of State Clinton used exactly the same expression just prior to the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I would like to know if Secretary of State Clinton did, in fact, soften her stance when you had the meeting with her. 

Minister:
Each of us conveyed our opinions, which have been confirmed seven times through diplomatic channels. The US side repeated its stance, claiming that the current plan is the best plan. The Japanese side also repeated its stance, explaining that an organization formed by the government and ruling parties is considering if there are better sites, with a conclusion set to be made by May, and that the current plan’s environmental impact study will continue concurrently. We exchanged our views in this way, and as we well understand each other’s views, we discussed matters calmly. You asked if the US stance has changed – I do not think so. The Futenma issue is now being addressed quietly with the intention of having a conclusion by May. It is fundamental that we find a solution by then. I have been aware that the US considers the Futenma issue or the Japan-US Alliance as something deeper and more extensive. That is exactly why the United States has been patient amidst the various discussions occurring. In that sense, I do not think the US stance has changed this time. Rather, it has maintained its traditional, basic stance. I have repeatedly emphasized the fact that we discussed global issues as well, as we did in our meeting in Singapore and on the occasion of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. But it seems that this fact is not well-understood in Japan.

Question (Uesugi, Freelance):
Like Mr. Iwakami, I also could not attend the press conference in Hawaii held following the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, so now I would like to ask a question on that meeting. You said in a press conference last week that you would exchange or report on the issue of the secret agreements. Did you in fact exchange views on the issue of the secret agreements with US Secretary of State Clinton?  

Minister:
I touched upon the issue of the secret agreements. I explained that a third party committee was verifying the issue and that the verification was a little bit behind schedule. I told Secretary of State Clinton that this issue may not seem like a big deal because in the United States most agreements were made public according to law, but in Japan, it has been said that these secret agreements never existed, and we have been investigating into the truth. I also reassured Secretary of State Clinton that I intended to ensure close, prior communications, so as not to allow the issue to negatively impact the Japan-US Alliance.

Question (Uesugi, Freelance):
What comment did US Secretary of State Clinton make in response?

Minister:
As far as I remember, she did not make any particular comment. She was nodding, perhaps.

4. 50th Anniversary of the Signing of US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security

Question (Nezu, NHK):
January 19 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the signing of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. Regarding the 2+2 joint statement agreed upon between Japan and the United States the other day, what kind of message do you want to include in it regarding the future of Japan-US relations?

Minister:
I would like for you to wait until the day the statement is released for that. It is currently being arranged.

Question (Kaminishigawara, Kyodo News):
I understand that a summit-level statement is currently being considered for the 50th anniversary of the signing of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security on January 19. Can you please elaborate on the significance of issuing a 2+2 joint statement and a summit-level statement simultaneously as well as the difference between the two?

Minister:
This is just how it happened to turn out and what I say may not be very logical. There is the opinion that a 2+2 statement is enough, but since this is an event that concerns the Japan-US Alliance, which is extremely important, the leaders of both countries will issue some kind of statement. I think it is better to have a summit-level statement than to not have one, although, a final decision has not been made yet.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements)

5. The Japan Airlines (JAL) Issue

Question (Suzuki, Jiji Press):
Concerning Japan Airlines (JAL), I suppose the final decision will take place this evening during the meeting between Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Seiji Maehara and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on when the “X-Day” [the date that JAL will file for bankruptcy] will be. I think there are various concerns about JAL filing for bankruptcy, including the possibility that JAL might be refused refueling or landing privileges in overseas airports, or in the worst case scenario, have equipment confiscated. Could you please tell us what measures MOFA is considering to take to handle this situation?

Minister:
I will not comment on the first part of the question since I have not confirmed the matter myself. Speaking generally, I think it is crucial that we ensure the safe and stable flight operations of JAL. I will not say what kind of policy will be decided, but I will say that MOFA will cooperate on that policy once it is determined.

Question (Suzuki, Jiji Press):
Specifically what kind of cooperation is possible?

Minister:
I think it is not appropriate to discuss this until the Government’s policy has been determined.

6. The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan (Possible Effect of the Nago Mayoral Election)

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
The Nago mayoral election will be announced in Okinawa this weekend. It seems that there are two candidates who have different positions regarding the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko. How do you think the outcome of the election will affect Japan-US consultation on the relocation of Futenma?

Minister:
I do not believe it is appropriate to comment on individual elections at this stage.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements)

7. Emergency Assistance to Haiti for the Earthquake Disaster

Question (Beppu, NHK):
Concerning emergency assistance to Haiti, I have the impression that Japan is a little behind the US, France, and China in terms of the speed of assistance. Could you please tell us if there are problems that need to be addressed or improvements to be made in the future to enable more speedy assistance? Also, as the chair of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), which is to be convened from tomorrow, how do you plan to discuss the issue of assistance to Haiti?

Minister:
We can say various things about time or delay, but the reality is that Haiti is in an extremely chaotic situation. There are reports of lootings and the like. Given the situation, we must also consider the safety of the people entering Haiti for assistance. A survey team has already left Japan, and will shortly start surveys to grasp the situation. Considering those factors, I do not think it is necessarily a mistake to provide assistance after identifying the specific needs on the ground. I think the US is capable of providing the various kinds of assistance it does in a responsive manner due to its geographical proximity.

Question (Beppu, NHK):
How about the discussion at FEALAC?

Minister:
Since the issue is now the focus of much attention, I think various opinions will be expressed by the participating countries. We may issue a unified message in the end summarizing the various opinions of each country.

Question (Nishino, Kyodo News):
Again, on the topic of the earthquake disaster in Haiti, there was talk about the speed of assistance a moment ago. Looking back at the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, which I witnessed, I believe that the earliest possible intervention by rescue teams saves lives and stabilizes society. This is a lesson which I think has become a consensus opinion. I very much understand the need for a prior survey to grasp the public security situation and the other factors that you just mentioned, but I wonder if there is any way for Japan to intervene a little earlier? Do you intend to consider ways to speed up the process a little more? I have heard that the first 72 hours is critical for rescue activities.

Minister:
As I have just said, the emergency survey team arrived at the Dominican Republic this afternoon and will soon enter Haiti. The survey is headed by Mr. Nobutaka Shinomiya, Japanese Ambassador to Haiti (currently residing in the Dominican Republic), and is made up of officials from MOFA, the Ministry of Defense, and JICA – two from each organization. The team has already started toward Haiti, and has arrived at the Dominican Republic.

It is important to grasp the situation on the ground in Haiti. We need to identify the needs of those living there, but with Haiti in a state of extreme chaos, even communication lines have been cut off. Given that it is not even clear what kind of assistance is needed, I believe it is not a mistake at all to take action after carefully identifying what must be done, although we can debate whether or not this is the only option available.

Question (Uesugi, Freelance):
Again, concerning Haiti. I met the Haitian Ambassador to Japan yesterday evening. The Ambassador said he would welcome any kind of assistance that came directly from Japan. He also specifically mentioned a couple of times interest in technical assistance based on Japan’s experience with earthquakes. There is a Japanese ambassador to Haiti and also a Haitian ambassador to Japan, and I wonder if the Japanese Government consulted the Haitian Ambassador to Japan, who represents the country, about assistance. If that is the case, could you please tell us what kinds of requests were made?

Minister:
I have heard that the Haitian Ambassador has expressed his gratitude for Japanese assistance. I have not heard specifically how far into the detail comments went. I would like to confirm if the relevant office has made any contact.

Related Information (Aid to Haiti for the Earthquake Disaster)

8. Internet Regulation in China

Question (Nanao, Nico Nico Douga):
My question is on behalf of our users. It is about Japan-China diplomacy in the future, against the backdrop of Internet regulation in China. On January 12, US Secretary of State Clinton expressed a strong concern about cyber-attacks on Google, which allegedly came from China. Many are saying that China will overtake Japan to become the world’s second largest economy in terms of GDP. Do you think that China’s current internet restrictions hinder further developments between China and Japan regarding economic, cultural and diplomatic relations?

Minister:
To begin with, my basic understanding is that individual countries have discretion over what kind of regulations should be imposed with regard to freedom of speech. As we live in a free and democratic country, however, we believe that freedom of speech should be guaranteed to the greatest extent possible. As a universal value, I think that freedom of speech should preferably be respected, although China has its own principles.

9. Deepening of the Japan-US Alliance

Question (Sakamaki, Bloomberg News):
Regarding the deepening of the Japan-US Alliance, you often state that you would like to make the Japan-US Alliance sustainable even after 30 or 50 years. Normally, when we use the term “sustainable,” it is used in a context when sustainability is not foreseen, such as when the economy seems to be bottoming out. Do you foresee some sort of a situation in the region which would make the Alliance unsustainable, or do you mean even with the change in government? Can you please explain in what context you are using the term sustainable?

Minister:
Generally speaking, alliances are not things that last forever. Circumstances change and I think basically that alliances last because of detailed attention and much effort on both sides. Because the role that the Japan-US Alliance plays is so important, I stated my frank opinion that I hope to make it sustainable even after 30 or 50 years. I told Secretary of State Clinton when I first met her in September that I would like to conduct discussions to deepen the Japan-US Alliance in order to make it sustainable even after 30 or 50 years. Today I happened to have a meeting with the President of the American Enterprise Institution for Public Policy Research (AEI). Someone who was present at the meeting said that several years ago I said that I would like to make the Japan-US Alliance sustainable for 50 years, and I reconfirmed that my position has not changed at all.

Question (Iwakami, Freelance):
The subject of the Alliance just came up, and the term “deepening of the Japan-US Alliance” has been coming up since long before you became Minister for Foreign Affairs. I feel that I sort of understand it, but if you think about it carefully, there is some ambiguity as to what it means. When you say “deepening of the Japan-US Alliance,” in which direction do you mean? At your previous press conference, I asked about the Japan-US Security Arrangements and the Japan-US Alliance which are, strictly speaking, not exactly the same. Does the deepening of the Japan-US Alliance point specifically to protecting Japan, or does it mean that Japan will follow the United States in its global strategies? I am sure there are many directions, but could you give us a definition of “the deepening of the Japan-US Alliance”?

Minister:
There are various ways of looking at this. Other than what you just said, under the scope of the Japan-US Alliance, in a narrow sense which includes matters other than security, what we are discussing here are various subjects such as global warming and nuclear issues. I believe one way of looking at it would include development on subjects such as these as well.

Looking at the Alliance in a wide scope would include these, but opinions have not yet become fixed on this, probably not even within the Japanese government and perhaps not within the US government either. I think that both arguments, one saying that we should further establish the security arrangements which are the core of the Alliance, and another saying that while security is of course the core we should think about the Alliance in a wider scope, are both legitimate.

Question (Iwakami, Freelance):
What is your definition?

Minister:
I think that it may be best not to give my opinion on this right now, but basically, I believe both are necessary. We should establish Japan-US security measures more firmly, but the Alliance is not just about security. We should consider it from a wider perspective and think about Japan-US cooperation, which is not just about military issues.

Related Information (Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements)

10. Prior Notification about the Transit of Nuclear Submarines

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
There is a rule that when a nuclear submarine calls on a Japanese port, a prior notification must be sent 24 hours before the submarine comes to call. Previously, the notifications were forwarded to local municipalities and prefectural governments through MOFA, and the media were also informed about any visits in that process, but we have not heard about anything for quite a while. Is MOFA forwarding the information to the local authorities on the condition that it should be kept confidential? Do you have any intention to review this?

Minister:
From what point has it been kept confidential?

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
Originally, this was one part of the measures implemented in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Minister:
Since this involves a counterpart and concerns a matter of security, I cannot answer immediately without hearing from the United States in depth. I would like to check on this.


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