(* 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 Seiji Maehara

Date: Friday, October 8, 2010, 3:38 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Economic Measures
    • (2) Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Singh of India
  2. Japan-China Defense Ministers' Meeting (official telegram)
  3. Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Singh of India
  4. Japan-China Relations
  5. 100th Anniversary of Japan's Annexation of Korea (Transfer of Royal Protocols of Joseon Dynasty)
  6. Collision between Japanese Coast Guard Patrol Vessels and a Chinese Fishing Trawler in Japan’s Territorial Waters off the Senkaku Islands
  7. Economic Diplomacy (Promotion of TPP)
  8. Japan-US Relations

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Economic Measures

Minister Maehara: Firstly, I will make two announcements.
   The first one is about economic measures on which the Cabinet decision was made today. I will explain the pillars of the economic measures related to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In line with instructions given by the Prime Minister Kan on September 27, the first pillar consists of fundamental support for the promotion of Japanese infrastructure systems abroad leveraging ODA and support for the promotion of Japan’s environmental and energy technology abroad. The second pillar consists of overseas public relations activities for the New Growth Strategy and strengthening of brand strategy. The third pillar is preliminary education on the Japanese language for foreign nurse and Certified Care Worker candidates based on EPAs. The fourth pillar is the creation of medical residence visa, which is a tentative title. These four measures were incorporated into the economic measures. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, intends to steadily implement these measures by utilizing the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year and the budget for the next fiscal year, which includes the special budget quota for revitalizing Japan.

(2) Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Singh of India

Minister: The second announcement is that the visit to Japan by Prime Minister Singh of India was formally approved at today’s Cabinet meeting. Prime Minister Singh will pay an Official Working Visit from October 24 to26. It will be an important visit for further strengthening the strategic global partnership between Japan and India in the economic and political areas. Through this visit, we will further strengthen Japan-India relations.

2. Japan-China Defense Ministers' Meeting (official telegram)

Nishioka, Mainichi Newspapers: This morning, Defense Minister Kitazawa showed strong dissatisfaction, pointing out that coordination was not made with China regarding a meeting between the Japanese and Chinese defense ministers planned to be held in Vietnam because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not send an official telegram instructing the Japanese Embassy in Beijing to work out a schedule. Please tell us your views on the details of the relevant facts and whether the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was at fault in some way.

Minister: Japan-China relations were in a situation that you are all aware of, and since China had announced that it was suspending ministerial-level exchanges, the entire government was handling such exchanges very carefully.
   What you pointed out did happen, but taking such a situation into consideration, we put not only meetingsbetween defense ministers, but also all top-level exchanges on hold. Nevertheless, since the resumption of exchanges was confirmed through the high-level talks between Prime Minister Kan and Premier Wen, we have begun to resume those that have been frozen or suspended. If administrative delays had caused discomfort, I would like to apologize. It was just a procedural issue, and there were absolutely no other intentions.

Yamao, Asahi Shimbun: Was the suspension (of the official telegram) done under your instructions?

Minister: Frankly speaking, (the official telegram) had stopped as a result of (China’s announcement of) suspending ministerial exchanges and also because we thought that we should not request such exchanges.

Yamao, Asahi Shimbun: Was it your instruction?

Minister: I do not remember whether I gave a clear instruction, but the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the decision in light of such circumstances.

Takeuchi, Tokyo Shimbun: In connection with that, Defense Minister Kitazawa explained yesterday that when he had made a confirmation by directly talking with you over the telephone, you had not grasped the facts then. So he directly…

Minister: No, it is not that I had not grasped the facts but that I did not know about the individual matters.

Takeuchi, Tokyo Shimbun: So, those were the facts?

Minister: Yes. Is this such a big deal?

Komurata, Asahi Shimbun: How you see this depends on the person, but it seems somewhat strange that Defense Minister Kitazawa grasped the situation only last night. I would think that the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could have communicated a little earlier about how you handle each case. It seems that information exchanges, shall I say, or organic connections within the government seem to be lacking. What do you think about this?

Minister: I would like to refrain from commenting on that. We will try to improve, so let us talk about more forward-looking issues.

Yamaguchi, Asahi Shimbun: You said that this was not a forward-looking issue, but I would like to confirm it again. May I understand that the telegram regrettably could not be sent or did not get delivered in such a timing that Defense Minister Kitazawa had so wished, not because you gave instructions in consideration of Japan-China relations, but because that is what the ministry staff conjectured, although I do not know whether it is appropriate to say so.

Minister: I do not know the details. However, my understanding is that since the Chinese side unilaterally said that it was suspending top-level and ministerial-level exchanges, we were not in the position to seek such exchanges. Therefore, all such exchanges had stopped, but Prime Minister Kan and Premier Wen met on the sidelines of the ASEM and agreed to resume high-level consultations. Amid this situation administrative procedures that had been put on hold were resumed, but it took some time. If there are complaints, I would like to sincerely apologize.
   However, because Defense Minister Kitazawa is a member of the Cabinet, and I am sure that he understands the situation in which Japan and China were placed, I would like for him to understand that.

3. Visit to Japan by Prime Minister Singh of India

Nagai, Nihon Keizai Shimbun: It has been officially approved that Prime Minister Singh of India will visit Japan. Please tell us your expectations or reactions with regard to the fact that a summit meeting will be held between Prime Minister Kan and Prime Minister Singh amid the strained relations with China.

Minister: You talk about strained relations with China, but what I must tell you as the basic premise is that the Senkaku Islands are our inherent sovereign territory and that an incident of obstruction of the execution of official duties occurred amid the fact that no territorial issue exists. China over-reacted to that, and our position has been consistent on this.
Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Japan was decided before this Senkaku incident. Broadly speaking, there are three objectives in the upcoming visit.
The first objective is how to further appreciate and confirm the general good relations between Japan and India. The second objective is to confirm the general framework with regard to mutually promoting the negotiations on a Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, on which working level officials are currently in India to conduct the second round of negotiations. The third objective is the signing – although it is not a legal document – a political document for the confirmation by the leaders of the two countries of the EPA. This was planned as such from the beginning, and I believe that it will be undertaken without any changes.

Asaka, Freelance: Are there going to be flags to be put up on the streets during Prime Minister Singh’s visit, as this is an Official Working Visit?

Minister: I will obtain the information and bounce it off to you.

4. Japan-China Relations

Fujita, NHK: In the wake of the Senkaku issue, Prime Minister Kan has said that he wants to work with the Chinese side to examine concrete preventive measures. What are your thoughts as to the timetable and vision with regard to this?

Minister: I would like to refrain from speaking about details, but such talks are already being held unofficially. I would like to refrain from speaking about the details.

5. 100th Anniversary of Japan's Annexation of Korea (Transfer of Royal Protocols of Joseon Dynasty)

Nishida, Mainichi Newspapers: With regard to the transfer of archives of Korean Peninsula origin that was stated in the Prime Minister’s statement in August concerning the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea, Secretary General Okada of the Democratic Party said today that this should be promptly moved forward, and I think that various matters such as how to handle those that were transferred to Japan and those that were purchased will be the focal point. What will be the scope of the transfer, and as I think that this will be a treaty, what are your thoughts on when the draft of the treaty will be submitted to the Diet?

Minister: With regard to the scope of the so-called Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty, talks are currently under way between the Japanese and South Korean authorities. We have conveyed our country’s thoughts to the other side, and I find that discussions are proceeding in an highly friendly manner between them. I believe that at the stage that the two sides reached an agreement, we must determine whether we can submit the draft of the treaty during the current Diet session. My feeling at the moment is that because I would like to have them transferred as soon as possible, I would like to have the treaty submitted during the current Diet session if it can be done in time. I think the rest depends on how far the working-level process goes.

6. Collision between Japanese Coast Guard Patrol Vessels and a Chinese Fishing Trawler in Japan’s Territorial Waters off the Senkaku Islands

Sakai, Sankei Shimbun: With regard to the video tape on the Chinese fishing boat’s collision incident, you have said that it is clear that the collision was intentional and malicious in nature and I conjecture that you take a forward-looking position on publicizing the video tape. However, some in the government and the ruling parties have called for exercising caution. What are your thoughts on this at the moment?

Minister: Recently, Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Mabuchi, Justice Minister Yanagida, two Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries, and I held discussions. With regard to how to deal with this issue, including the handling of the matter at the Diet, we left the matter to the discretion of the Chief Cabinet Secretary. As to what to do about it, I believe that there is the matter of how investigative authorities should make a judgment based on Article 47 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, so there may also be the matter of how the Chief Cabinet Secretary will make a judgment in consideration of the Diet, or the matter of what kind of request may come from the Diet, and I believe that in the end, the Justice Minister will be consulted. If my opinion is sought, I intend to give my opinion at that time.

Sakai, Sankei Shimbun: Are you saying that at the moment, you find it difficult to clearly express your opinion here?

Minister: It is not that it is difficult to say this, but I did express my own thoughts during the discussion. It makes no sense to talk about my thoughts or disclose what the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said, or what the Justice Minister said. Since this is about how the Cabinet intends to respond and is an issue that has been left to the discretion of the Executive Board at the meeting of the Budget Committee, on the side of the Diet, the issue has been left to the discretion of the Chief Cabinet Secretary, including how to deal with the Diet. I think that as to what to do about it in relation to the Diet, consultations will be held in the end with the prosecutors.

7. Economic Diplomacy (Promotion of TPP)

Akiyama, TV Tokyo: With regard to TPP, you said during the Japan-US Business Council meeting yesterday that promoting the TPP is a strong option, but some people in the government are said to have the view that it may be still slightly premature. How do you intend to promote debates on the TPP?

Minister: I have heard that the Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has made such comments, but Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Kano, said during the Upper House plenary session yesterday that domestic measures need to be implemented of course, but Japan as a whole should promote TPP. Therefore, I question the Senior Vice Minister’s comments. In addition, it was expressly written in the Prime Minister’s policy speech in concrete terms that the government as a whole would study this matter, and I think that what kind of judgment Japan will be able to make and to what extent it can make that judgment on the occasion of the APEC conference would be a big political decision. I intend to make efforts so that the government will come up with a unified position – what I mean by unified position is that the government will come up with a unified position on the premise that Japan would actively participate in the TPP.

8. Japan-US Relations

Ichihara, NHK: It is said that arrangements are being worked out for you to hold talks with US Secretary of State Clinton at the end of this month. I think that it will be the second meeting following the meeting in New York last month. What kind of exchange of views do you intend to conduct at the meeting?

Minister: It has not been decided yet.

Ichihara, NHK: If it takes place, what kind of message do you intend to convey?

Minister: Prime Minister Kan and US President Obama held discussions for an hour regarding deepening of the Japan-US alliance. Prior to that, during the Japan-US foreign ministers’ meeting, discussions were held on promoting cooperation in three areas, broadly speaking, concerning the way that the Japan-US alliance ought to be. The first area concerns working out the details of a more concrete cooperation with regard to the Japan-US security arrangement. I believe that it is important to thoroughly confirm the fact that further promoting efforts including the aforementioned TPP and more liberalized trade between Japan and the United States, as well as infrastructure exports that Japan seeks, would lead to more employment and economic development in the United States. Further promoting economic cooperation in that sense (is the second area), and the rest (third area) is indeed to thoroughly promote people-to-people exchanges. Of course, it has not been decided yet whether we will hold a meeting, but I believe that we will likely be working out these three pillars in more concrete terms. As for other topics, we may also discuss individual issues, but basically, I believe that we will likely promote discussions on the three confirmed points in more concrete terms, including which of the topics will be taken up preferentially, under what kind of  timetable.

Back to Index