(* 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: Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 8:00 p.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Statements
    • (1) Emergency Grant Aid to the Republic of Haiti for the Earthquake Disaster
    • (2) Submission of Japan’s Quantified Economy-wide Emissions Target for 2020 to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
    • (3) The Investigation into the Issue of the So-called Secret Agreements
    • (4) A Meeting of the Council of the Three-level Political Appointees of the Foreign Ministry
  2. The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan
  3. The Investigation into the Issue of the So-called Secret Agreements
  4. The Dispatch of PKO Forces to Haiti
  5. A Letter on Nuclear Policy from Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
  6. Aerial Training Exercises by US Aircraft over Yakushima
  7. The Issue of Northern Territories
  8. The Issue of Gyoza Dumplings Made in China

1. Opening Statements

(1) Emergency Grant Aid to the Republic of Haiti for the Earthquake Disaster

Minister:
There was a Budget Committee meeting all day today and after the meeting, there was a long Cabinet Meeting. That is why today’s press conference is starting late. I have a couple of announcements to make.

First, today’s Cabinet Meeting decided to issue emergency grant aid to the Republic of Haiti for the earthquake disaster. The Japanese government, in consideration of the gravity of the earthquake disaster in Haiti, decided on January 25 to issue grant aid of up to US$20 million. This grant aid is as part of the additional assistance measures totaling US$70 million that State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Koichi Takemasa announced at the Ministerial Conference on Haiti held in Montreal on January 25, local time. Japan’s aid to Haiti has been praised highly by various countries. Coordinating with other nations, Japan will continue to provide assistance to Haiti, sharing its our knowledge for the reconstruction of the country.

(2) Submission of Japan’s Quantified Economy-wide Emissions Target for 2020 to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Minister:
Second – and this is something that we discussed at a meeting of relevant ministers just prior to this press conference – Japan has submitted its quantified economy-wide emissions target for 2020 to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Prime Minister has already made his remarks on this and, as such, I will avoid repeating what he has said. The Prime Minister confirmed the submission of Japan’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent of the 1990 levels by 2020. This target is conditional; that is, it “is premised on the establishment of a fair and effective international framework in which all major economies participate and on agreement by those economies on ambitious targets.” The Japanese Embassy in Germany will submit the target to the Secretariat today.

(3) The Investigation into the Issue of the So-called Secret Agreements

Minister:
Next, I will touch upon the investigation into the secret agreements. I have just received a midterm report from Chairman Shinichi Kitaoka. The committee is vigorously advancing its activities, which cover such things as the verification of related documents and hearings from concerned parties, including former staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Regarding the request that I had made for the submission of a report by the end of January, Mr. Kitaoka explained to me today that the committee would need one more month or so in order for it to submit a responsible report, given the substantial amount of documents to be verified, and also taking into account the views expressed by some members of the committee that verification should, in principle, be conducted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because of the sensitive nature of the documents. I judged – and accordingly, I told Mr. Kitaoka – that his request concerning the timing of the submission of the report was fair because of how important it is for experts to thoroughly investigate into this issue, including its historical background, rather than jumping to a hasty conclusion. It is important that a verifiable report be submitted.

(4) A Meeting of the Council of the Three-level Political Appointees of the Foreign Ministry

Minister:
We held a meeting of the Council of the Three-level Political Appointees of the Foreign Ministry this afternoon. Only three people attended today’s meeting as both Secretary Takemasa and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shuji Kira are overseas on official business. I told the meeting that we needed to consider within the ministry, in light of the earthquake in Haiti, the way emergency aid ought to be carried out. I also indicated my intention to form a team, led by Secretary Takemasa – although he was not present at the meeting – to thoroughly consider issues of government revitalization, public service corporations, and independent administrative institutions. We also discussed ODA reform. State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tetsuro Fukuyama and Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Chinami Nishimura each made reports on the way ODA ought to be carried out, and we exchanged our views on this matter. I will probably announce what specific system we will pursue and items for consideration at a press conference one week or so from now.

Although this might have been too early to discuss, I told the meeting that the three-level political appointees’ overseas visits during the long holiday period in May should be organized strategically in such a way that each member’s visit would share a purpose. I suggested that we discuss our specific plans fully going forward.

2. The Issue of the Realignment of the US Forces in Japan

Question (Iwakami, Freelance):
The Nago City mayoral elections were a few days ago and a candidate was elected who has been vocal in his opposition of the Henoko relocation plan. I think that this makes the search for candidate location aside from Henoko – either at different locations within Okinawa Prefecture or within the prefecture – all the more necessary. How are the election results being received within the government and by the United States?

Minister:
I am not really aware of the opinion of the United States on this. Since this issue became a point of contention in the election, I think that the result is in some way a representation of the will of the people. However, the issue of the relocation of the facilities at Futenma is fundamentally something for the national government to take responsibility for and decide. The verification committee is currently working from a blank slate and discussing all possibilities. Accordingly, while the election is an important incident, but I do not think it dissolves the possibility of the Henoko plan.

Question (Mizushima, Jiji Press):
On Futenma, the Chief Cabinet Secretary expressed the opinion at a press conference today that a relocation site could be decided upon even without the agreement of the region the site is located in. Are you basically of the same opinion?

Minister:
When you put it that way it gives the impression that the opinion of the region decided upon will be completely ignored. I think that you need to pay closer attention to the way you phrase things. I think we need to do whatever possible to earn the understanding of the region chosen. We must decide on somewhere, and no matter where that is I think that we need to work to gain the understanding of the people there. When we actually build a landfill along the coast, for example, then the case would involve the authority of the governor. But (when it comes to making a decision on a certain place for relocation) I think what the Chief Cabinet Secretary said would be correct in legal terms. I do not think that it is quite correct to understand his statement as saying that the government will ignore regional opinion or not ask for the opinion of the region at all.

Question (Kaminishigawara, Kyodo News):
I have a similar question. The Futenma issue has been debated for many years without any real progress, and I think that the government has in some way misread or underestimated the amount of resistance there is within Okinawa against a relocation within the prefecture. The upcoming decision on the relocation site for Futenma was a point of conflict in the Nago mayoral election, and I think that the new mayor has clearly expressed his opposition [to a relocation within the prefecture]. To what extent do you value the opinion of the region to which the Futenma Air Station is to be moved?

Minister:
The relocation site has not been decided yet, and I do not think that there is any need to make an argument based on assumptions. I think I have already said everything I have to say on this matter. I believe that it is obvious that we should work to explain the situation to whatever region is chosen and work to earn the understanding of that region.

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
I think it has been said that this issue will be resolved by the end of May, meaning that the understanding of the US side must be earned by the end of May. I understand this to mean that the understanding of the US side must be earned by May and included in the relocation plan. Is it your understanding that the schedule states that the understanding of the region chosen must also be earned by the end of May?

Minister:
Regarding the region chosen, my opinion is as I have just stated. I think we must work to accurately explain the situation to the region and earn the region’s understanding to the greatest extent possible. This is included with everything else among the issues the government must resolve by the end of May.

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
Is the deadline also for earning the agreement of the US side as well?

Minister:
That is exactly what the Prime Minister has said numerous times in the Diet.

Question (Nishino, Kyodo News):
The difference between candidates in the Nago mayoral election was 1,600 votes, a number which represents the strength of support voters have for relocation outside of Okinawa Prefecture. Last year while carrying out verification work on this issue you commented that you thought relocation outside of the prefecture would be difficult. I think that you said this from the perspective of deterrence, but having now passed one milestone in this issue, the Nago mayoral elections, I wonder if anything has not changed regarding your opinion that relocation outside of the prefecture would be difficult?

Minister:
As the verification committee is currently discussing this issue, I do not think it is appropriate for me to make a comment on this.

Question (Nanao, Nico Nico Douga):
I have a question on behalf of our users. It includes something I would like clarified. The Tokyo Shimbun reported on January 25 that it had been revealed that the Obama administration had notified Japan that until the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station was resolved, the US would not respond to requests for summit meetings with Japan. Several sources relating to Japan and the United States revealed this on January 24, but is this story true? If it is true, please tell us your opinion on this notification.

Minister:
As far as I am aware, that story is false.

Question (Nezu, NHK):
Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley has stated that there is no change in the US position on relocating the Marine Corps air base in Futenma on Okinawa and Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has said something similar. Considering that it is being said that the position of the United States will not change and that there is a deadline set for this issue at the end of May, moving forward, how will you approach negotiations with the United States? In particular, next week Assistant Secretary of State Campbell will visit Japan – what kind of discussion about this issue do you expect to have with him?

Minister:
The US position is consistent. All that has happened here is that position has been repeated. The question at hand is whether or not we can come up with a new plan that can change the US position, and whether or not the government can present the plan to Okinawa and the United States.

3. The Investigation into the Issue of the So-called Secret Agreements

Question (Kamematsu, J-Cast News):
I have a question about the investigation into the secret agreements, and the midterm report chairman Kitaoka submitted to you recently. What was the content of that report? I would like it if you could talk about the scale of the report.

Minister:
Unfortunately, I think it best that I do not discuss the content of the report. Although I am well-informed on this subject, having been briefed on it intermittently, and having heard directly from Professor Kitaoka this time, I would like to hold off on talking in detail about this until we are at a stage where all the information has been compiled into the final report.

4. The Dispatch of PKO Forces to Haiti

Question (Saita, Nishinippon Shimbun):
Yesterday, an order was issued calling for the preparation of PKO forces to be dispatched to Haiti. What is the significance of the Japanese Government dispatching PKO forces to Haiti and, in particular, what kind of effect will this have on Japan’s national interest? Could you please explain these two points?

Minister:
We received a request from the UN through our Permanent Mission to dispatch PKO forces – that was the fundamental starting point of this. The UN Security Council, discussed the matter and, in a unanimous decision, issued an appeal to all countries for the reinforcement of MINUSTAH (the United Nations Stabilization Mission In Haiti). Therefore, as I stated, we are preparing PKO forces. I think that we will dispatch the forces after we receive a request from the UN stating what is needed as well as the number of personnel and other matters.

As for the significance of this, first of all, assistance to help recover from the disaster and the many deaths caused by the terrible earthquake is urgent. We will carry out assistance using PKO forces. Of course there is the matter of maintaining order, but the other point is recovery, that is, assisting Haiti to recover as soon as possible through such activities as removing debris and building roads. I think that it goes without saying that this is what Japan must do.

Question (Igarashi, Asahi Shimbun):
With previous dispatches of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces for peacekeeping operations, dispatches were carried out on the basis of the five principles of peacekeeping operations. With regard to the dispatch of PKO forces to Haiti, it is my understanding that forces this time are being dispatched under different standards as there is no ongoing conflict in Haiti. I think that this is the first time that forces have been dispatched under different standards. I think that you, Minister Okada, have been in favor of dispatching forces for peacekeeping operations in the past. Since they can be dispatched in this manner this time, will it be easier to dispatch forces for other peacekeeping operations as well? Could you tell us what your outlook and views are at this point?

Minister:
Our basic understanding is that this is a dispatch under the International Peace Cooperation Law. It is a dispatch that satisfies the five principles. Take, for example, “cease-fire.” Since there is no conflict in that sense in the first place, my understanding is that that condition that “a cease-fire must be in place” is satisfied. We dispatch peecekeeping forces under the conditions that the five principles are properly satisfied. Of course up until now peecekeeping forces have been dispatched to Haiti because the situation is very dangerous there, but it is not an area of conflict per se, so the UN mission in Haiti is not a prototypical case for peacekeeping operations. The prerequisite for the dispatch of PKO forces is that the situation satisfies the conditions stipulated in the International Peace Cooperation Law. I have always stated that dispatch under the International Peacekeeping Law should be conducted more actively, so we are considering a range of possibilities, including occasions other than Haiti, the case at hand. We are making a range of examinations regarding a review of the International Peacekeeping Law, but we have not reached a point where we can immediately draft and submit a legislative bill. We do not plan to submit one during this session of the Diet.

Question (Nishino, Kyodo News):
You just referred to maintaining order and assisting recovery. I think that these are within the area of so-called “main operations.” Of course it depends on what the UN requests from Japan. Will this dispatch mainly consist of recovery activities such as removing debris, or is there a possibility that, like PKO forces from other countries, the Self-Defense Forces will work to maintain order?

Minister:
Since we have not yet decided specifically what to do, I think that it is better not to say too much. We told the UN that “we are prepared to dispatch PKO forces” after full prior consultations between the three parties.

Question (Saita, Nishinippon Shimbun):
I thought that I just heard you say that “there is no conflict in Haiti.” PKO forces were certainly in the country before the earthquake occurred, but if there is no conflict going on there why were they there? In other words, could you explain in a little more detail what your understanding of “no conflict” is?

Minister:
As I have said before, normally, when you say “conflict,” I think it means a situation where multiple groups, normally two, but sometimes three or four, are fighting each other. This is not the case with Haiti, where the situation is very dangerous and there is much criminal activity. The UN intervened and PKO forces have been operating there because of high amount of crime and danger in the country.

Question (Ukai, Asahi Shimbun):
I am sorry to bother you with legal interpretation, but it has to do with the five PKO principles. Under the International Peacekeeping Law, in cases where there is no military conflict in the first place, there is no need for a ceasefire to be in place. The Law also says in parenthesis, “dispatches can be conducted on the basis of a request from said country.” It was my understanding that our interpretation was that this provision in parenthesis allowed for the dispatch this time. In other words, it was my understanding that this would be an exception of the five PKO principles, where the part about an agreement on a ceasefire would not be applicable. Listening to your reply just now, it appears that things are a little different.

Minister:
I think that it is a matter of how much you read into the first of the five PKO principles. It is my understanding that the first principle includes that exception, and it was on the basis of such an understanding that I answered.

Question (Shinbori, TV Asahi):
In his press conference after the Cabinet meeting today, Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa made comments with regard to sending PKO forces to Haiti that expressed concern for the United States, saying that “Haiti, in particular, is like the front porch of the United States, so the people of the United States feel a strong affinity for the country.” Do you also think that this was one of the factors behind why the decision was made so quickly?

Minister:
The Haiti issue is a matter of enormous concern for the international community, and the United States is also very much concerned. European countries, Asian countries, Jordan and others have announced their participation in operations already. It is my understanding that this is a disaster of a global scale.

Minister:
I did not mention this in my previous answer, but Japan’s dispatch is basically not for maintaining order. We intend to send engineering forces, though details have not been determined yet. That is the assumption under which the matter is being discussed within the government.

5. A Letter on Nuclear Policy from Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Question (Kajiwara, NHK):
A government statement on nuclear weapons was decided upon at today’s Cabinet Meeting. The statement reads, “At that time, the view of the Government of Japan was explained, with the consent of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.” This seems to contradict what you wrote in the letter that was sent to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the end of last year. What explanation specifically did you give to her? Is the position of the Government of Japan such that under some circumstances there may be concern over the retirement of the Tomahawk missile?

Minister:
The details of the government statement are not something to be disclosed. What is written in the government statement does not contradict the letter I wrote. If you read my letter carefully, you will see that I was not denying the fact that the government had discussed the Tomahawk missile. Rather, I requested in the letter that explanations be given if the Tomahawk missile was in fact to be retired. I did not write that the retirement of the Tomahawk missile would cause Japan trouble. According to the government statement, Japan has never expressed its concern over the retirement of the Tomahawk missile nor has it ever demanded the acquisition of low-yield nuclear earth penetrators.

Question (Kajiwara, NHK):
Just for confirmation, is it correct to assume that what has been conveyed is the government’s view on nuclear posture review in general, as the government statement states?

Minister:
I can only repeat my previous answer. The government statement, compiled in response to a question from the Diet and decided upon at today’s Cabinet Meeting, explains everything. I have nothing more to say.

6. Aerial Training Exercises by US Aircraft over Yakushima

Question (Taniue, Minami-Nippon Shimbun):
Regarding the issue of unidentified aircraft repeatedly carrying out low-approach training over Yakushima Airport in Kagoshima Prefecture, there have been newspaper reports that the United States has admitted that the aircraft are US military aircraft. There are agreements between Japan and the United States which state that “Public airports will be safe and actually avoided.” In response to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement that “Aerial exercises above Yakushima Airport may be in violation [of agreements],” the US side has reportedly stated, “Article 5 of the Japan Status of Forces Agreement recognizes our right to enter and exit public airports for training, so there is no problem here.” I would like to hear you opinion on this matter, as well as how you plan to request that the US side discontinue this kind of training in the future.

Minister:
I would like to have thorough discussion on this. As we have channels for discussing these things, I do not think I should say anything here. I want to thoroughly discuss this and hear the US side’s explanations and reasoning for this.

Question (Taniue, Minami-Nippon Shimbun):
How do you intend to propose that the US side discontinue training given what they have admitted on this issue?

Minister:
There are channels for discussing these things. This is not a place for making unilateral statements. I want to have a thorough exchange of opinions.

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
Regarding the truth behind the Yakushima incident, have you received a report from the US side admitting that unidentified aircrafts were US military aircrafts? I think that this action is in violation of the Japan Status of Forces Agreement, but what is your understanding of this issue?

Minister:
There are channels for discussing these things. Rather than making a sudden statement about this here, I think it is fundamentally best to discuss this issue.

Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
What about whether or not it is true that the US military has admitted that these were US aircraft?

Minister:
I acknowledge that.

7. The Issue of Northern Territories

Question (Yamamoto, Nikkei):
My question is about Russia. First Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia Andrei Ivanovich Denisov spoke positively about joint economic activities in the Northern Territories in an interview with Nikkei today. What is your take on advancing joint economic activities given that the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands shows no progress?

Minister:
I also read the article on the First Vice-Minister in today’s newspaper, but he did not mention joint economic activities in the Four Northern Islands in the Japan-Russia Strategic Dialogue. It is essential that we clarify the attribution of the Four Northern Islands. To advance joint economic activities in the Four Northern Islands without solving this fundamental problem would involve some very difficult legal issues. I do not necessarily consider joint economic activities to be something positive. Economic cooperation or economic exchange activities, such as those in Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East, and negotiations on the territorial issue are two wheels of one cart and, naturally, both efforts must be advanced. That said, I have reservations about economic exchange activities in the Four Northern Islands.

8. The Issue of Gyoza Dumplings Made in China

Question (Nanao, Nico Nico Douga):
I would like to ask about the issue of frozen gyoza dumplings made in China. According to an article on Nikkei Net on December 31 of last year, information obtained from a public security officer in China has revealed that the Chinese public security authorities had reduced the number of members of the special unit from more than 100 to less than 100. It will have been two years on the 30th of this month since the gyoza dumpling incident occurred. What is your current understanding of this issue and how do you plan to address it going forward?

Minister:
I heard that there were some personnel transfers, but I have not confirmed if the number of staff has in fact been substantially reduced. I wanted to discuss this issue briefly with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China Yang Jiechi when he visited Japan recently, but we had to spend a large amount of time discussing other issues and could not discuss this issue at all. There is very good news, though. Japan and China are making great progress in discussions about the issue of food safety. Once discussions are over, consumers will probably be able to rest assured regarding the safety of food products. I also wanted to tell Minister Yang that a recent survey on Japanese public opinion regarding China showed that the percentage of people who hold a positive image of the country has improved significantly, although if you compare men to women, women in general are shown to have a lower opinion of China, which can probably be explained by the gyoza dumpling issue. But I could not tell him this either because we ran out of time. As the survey shows, resolving this issue will be in China’s interest as well, and this is something that I have been conveying to China.


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