(* 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: Tuesday, December 28, 2010, 4:15 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Visit to the United States
    • (2) Comments
  2. Visit to the United States
  3. Japan-China Relations
  4. Japan-Korea Relations
  5. TPP
  6. Domestic Politics (Appearance by Former Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa before Deliberative Council on Political Ethics) (Omitted)

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Visit to the United States

Foreign Minister Maehara: I have one announcement, and as this will be the last press conference for this year, I would like to say a few words.
   The announcement is that I am scheduled to visit Washington D.C. and the state of Florida in the United States from January 6th to the 10th. In Washington D.C., I plan to meet with the US Secretary of State and hold talks with US Government officials, as well as deliver a speech at a think tank. In Florida, I plan to meet the governor of Florida. It will be my fourth visit to the United States since I became Foreign Minister. I intend to make thorough preparations for the success of the Prime Minister's US visit to the US scheduled for the first half of next year.

(2) Comments

Minister: As this will be my last press conference for this year and it has been just slightly over three months since I assumed this post on September 17, I would like to speak a little bit about my views.
   Firstly, with regard to Japan-US relations, there emerged great concerns about the bilateral relations over the Futenma issue during the time of the Hatoyama administration. In addition, as it was right after a change of power, the US side wondered about Japan's foreign policy -- in particular, the policy toward the United States -- under the Liberal Democratic Party administration and under the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration. In other words, I believe that there was insufficient coordination of each other's perception, so to speak, of the bilateral relations.
   However, on May 28, former Prime Minister Hatoyama, along with expressing apology, decided on the relocation (of Futenma Air Station) to Henoko and resigned, taking political responsibility for the decision. Since then, Prime Minister Kan, who became president (of the DPJ), has maintained a consistent position on adhering to the Japan-US agreement concluded on May 28 under former Prime Minister Hatoyama. Taking this and other matters into consideration, I believe that Japan-US relations improved very much.
   Diplomacy and alliances are not volunteer activities. With regard to how various countries think about such matters in terms of their own interests, if we think about changes in the strategic environment surrounding Japan or the Asia-Pacific region, including the Korean Peninsula situation, it can be determined that we should strengthen the Japan-US alliance and that although the Futenma issue continues to be an important issue, it would not be in the best interest of Japan and the United States for that issue to be at the center of the bilateral relations. In addition, there is now a deeper understanding that the East Asia Community concept advocated by the DPJ does not exclude the United States and instead aims at creating a system of co-existence and co-prosperity, with the United States included. As a result, I believe that the foundation of Japan-US relations has begun to be solidified.
   In slightly over three months, I have met Secretary of State Clinton on three occasions and held talks with her over the telephone once. I will be meeting State Secretary Clinton after the turn of the year. I believe that a relationship of trust and communication between foreign ministers is important. Next year, I intend to make further efforts so that people would be saying that deeper bonds have been established with regard to Japan-US relations. I think that Prime Minister Kan's visit to the United States would be highlighting those efforts in particular. Therefore, I will make my utmost efforts, including my visit to the United States, to coordinate the details of the Prime Minister's visit.
   Next, with regard to our relations with South Korea, amid the turning point in which this year marked the 100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of Korea, the Prime Minister handled the matter, including his statement, with a special feeling, from the viewpoint that South Korea is an important neighbor and a strategic partner.
   I also visited Seoul in June when I was minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. I am glad that I was able to hold talks with various people and engage in various exchanges as the chairman of the "Strategic League of Diet Members to Think about Japan-South Korea Relations." I also believe that the bonds of our relations with South Korea have become stronger. I would like to make efforts to further strengthen this future-oriented relationship between the two countries.
   With regard to issues with China, there was a time when relations with that country were strained, as there emerged the Senkaku issue. Prime Minister Kan met Premier Wen during ASEM and with President Hu during APEC. I believe that Japan and China are now in agreement over the policy to promote their comprehensive a Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests.
   While there are various issues, the relationship of interdependence between Japan and China, particularly over the economic aspect, has gradually grown stronger. While sharing the awareness that strengthening the bilateral relations would be mutually beneficial as well as beneficial for regional stability, we hope to turn next year into a good year to firmly reconstruct Japan-China relations once again. Since 2012 is a turning point marking it the 40th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, we intend to turn next year into a year to make preparations for joint activities, upon mutually confirming various projects for that event.
   With regard to economic diplomacy, we were able to conclude EPAs and FTAs with India and Peru since I assumed this post. We also restarted negotiations on an EPA with Australia. In addition, we will resume negotiations on EPAs with South Korea and the EU early in next year. I also believe that by starting talks on the TPP and indicating that Japan would clarify its position upon reaching a decision on this at the earliest date possible, a momentum has been generated toward promoting free trade. We will further promote this.
   With regard to infrastructure export, we have successes in various countries. Speaking of nuclear power generation in Vietnam or projects related to ODA, cooperation with various important countries including Vietnam, India, and Indonesia is beginning to take shape. We need to make more efforts on introduction of a high-speed railway in the United States, and Vietnam, where the cabinet had already made decision but the approval of the parliament is still necessary. We have concluded a nuclear energy cooperation agreement with a certain country by advertising nuclear energy and other forms of clean energy as well as the reputation that Japan's technology is safe. On that premise, we are also thinking about making efforts to promote Japan's safe and clean nuclear power plants to overseas markets in the future.
   Concerning resource diplomacy, taking rare earths for example, confirmation has been made after September with regard to partnerships with Australia, India, Vietnam, Mongolia, and the United States. I believe that as an achievement made during the time of Foreign Minister Okada, steady progress has been made in resource diplomacy with Kazakhstan.
   While tourism has been a common topic that I have dealt with since the time I served as minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, we will somehow register record figures this year. However, we will not be able to attain the target of 10 million tourists, because of a fall in the number of Chinese tourists due to the Senkaku issue and the effects of the strong yen, which is regrettable. However, visa requirements for Chinese tourists have been eased; various promotional campaigns have been carried out, including, as in the case of China, issuing visas at seven diplomatic offices instead of at three offices as in the past; and work has been going into full swing from late October to turn Haneda into an international airport. Over the next three years, international flights during the daytime will be increased to about three times the current number of flights. In addition, I believe that many effects will emerge in coming days as a result of such measures as expansion of slots for international flights at Chitose Airport. We hope to conduct additional activities next year on top of this year's base in order to increase the number of inbound tourists to 30 million in the near future by all means.
   We would also like to collaborate with the Tourism Agency to have the Agency's target number of inbound tourists in future and the target number of inbound tourists according to country shared with our diplomatic missions abroad, as well as have the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs somehow collaborate on such tasks. In addition, we hope to make efforts to ease visa requirements in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice and the police.
   With regard to the issue of biodiversity or the COP 16, I believe that Japan was able to show its presence as a result of Environment Minister Matsumoto's outstanding performance. In particular, with regard to COP 16, although it is not legally binding, I believe that high marks should be given to the adoption of the "Cancun Agreements," according to which major greenhouse gas emitting countries would make commitments, including numerical targets. We believe that in coming days, Japan needs to take the initiative to ensure that negotiations can be held properly by 2012 when the commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

2. Visit to the United States

Ichihara, NHK: With regard to your visit to the United States that you announced earlier, you mentioned thorough preparations toward ensuring the success of the Prime Minister's visit to the US. Specifically what points do you intend to discuss with Secretary of State Clinton? As you also plan to give a speech on this occasion, what kind of message do you intend to deliver there?

Minister: With regard to the details of the speech, I would like to include in it the importance of the Japan-US alliance and incorporate a topic like the possibility of the Japan-US alliance as regards how Japan and the United States can cooperate in dealing with global issues.
   As for the details of the meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, while I was present on two occasions during summit meetings between Prime Minister Kan and President Obama, Japan and the United States will strengthen our bilateral relations based on three pillars: the security aspect, the economic aspect, and the aspect of human and cultural exchanges. As I believe that it would be desirable if a statement or the like can be issued at the summit meeting with each side bringing forward specific topics, I believe that working out the details of the specific topics of the three pillars or confirming them will likely be the major theme.

Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: You commented earlier that "although the Futenma issue continues to be an important issue, it would not be in the best interest of Japan and the United States to leave that issue at the center of the bilateral relations." How do you intend to position Futenma issue in your meeting with Secretary of State Clinton and specifically what kind of progress do you think will be made?

Minister: There is no mistake that this issue of Futenma Air Station will continue to be one of the important issues. Considering that this is a dangerous base and it would be a serious matter if an accident should occur, we have had the desire for more than a decade to remove the danger by somehow relocating it, and that line of thought has still not changed at all.
   At the same time, however, we have said that the issue of a US base does not constitute the entire Japan-US relations. For example, mutually confirming further cooperation between Japan and the United States in the area of defense and the area of economics is an important matter, and at the same time, I believe that we need to hold thorough discussions on individual issues such as requests from Okinawa Prefecture regarding whether some facilities can be returned in advance or whether some training facilities and areas can be returned. Above all, I would like to hold talks with the Secretary of State, with the reduction of Okinawa's burdens as the top priority.

3. Japan-China Relations

Yamaguchi, Asahi Shimbun: In your earlier remarks, you stated that although relations with China were strained for a time, you intend to make this the year that they are thoroughly rebuilt. A great deal has happened; could you confirm again what you mean when you say “strained?” Although I think that it may have been the failure to reach a compromise on each side’s assertions, what kind of environment, in your view, can we create in order to thoroughly rebuild our relations?
  Also, with regard to the issue of China, a great deal has been said about China’s maritime expansion, and Japan as well as Southeast Asia and the countries of the Pacific are increasingly concerned. How does Japan intend to exert diplomatic efforts next year in this regard, including collaboration with other countries? Although there are many different things, please tell us your response.

Minister: The issue that caused strain was the Senkaku Islands issue. I think that there was a problem in Japan-China relations regarding the fishing-boat collision off the Senkaku Islands.
  If I could add to this, however, I would say that there are no territorial issues between Japan and China. The Senkaku Islands are the inherent territory of Japan, and we remain firm and unwavering in our intention to maintain effective control of the Senkaku Islands.
  With regard to the maritime issue as well, in reference to your question, we have the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is so-called a “The Constitution of the Oceans.” Although there are of course points that are to be determined through dialogue between the countries involved, we have thoroughly determined how the order of the seas should be based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and we have declared Japan’s sovereignty rationally, based solidly on this Convention. This is a justifiable assertion by Japan, and is neither over- nor underestimation. I think that most other countries probably also assert their sovereignty based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In general terms, a challenge to this is a challenge to the international order. Therefore, I think that it is essential for the countries that are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to maintain a dialogue, and agree to comply with the Convention. As your question was about China, I also expect China to maintain order properly in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  Speaking from this perspective, I believe that the agreement between China and ASEAN to hold a dialogue on the code of conduct for the South China Sea at the ASEAN meeting in Hanoi is praiseworthy.

Nagai, Nihon Keizai Shimbun: On an Internet program the other day, former (DJP) President Ichiro Ozawa said that he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on his recent visit to Japan. Although he used the ambiguous expression “recent visit,” one would generally assume that this meeting took place, for example, at the November APEC. Does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirm or deny the fact that former leader Ozawa met President Hu at APEC?

Minister: Regarding the definition of the word “recent,” I think that he was probably referring to the discussion between President Hu and then-Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa when President Hu visited Japan in May 2008. I say this because I also attended that meeting as Vice President of the DPJ. I recall that Mr. Ozawa talked about The Leopard. Therefore, former DPJ president Ozawa’s recollection is not from the recent APEC, but rather it is my understanding that when he said “recent,” he was speaking of his own view of May 2008.

Nagai, Nihon Keizai Shimbun: Although I understand what you are saying, I think that one would generally understand “recent” to refer to the November APEC. I think that such a meeting between national leaders is an extremely important diplomatic matter, and former President Ozawa’s statement could cause misunderstanding and confusion. What is your reaction to this statement?

Minister: I find it an unusual question for the Nikkei Shimbun. Although I have not confirmed this directly with Mr. Ozawa, inferring from his mention of The Leopard, I think that when former DPJ President Ozawa said “recent,” he was simply referring to his meeting with President Hu in 2008. I therefore think that he was speaking plainly, without any other intentions.

4. Japan-Korea Relations

Ida, Shukan Kinyobi: Earlier, you spoke at first about various aspects of relations with other countries. Although you did not mention the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, my first question is what you think of the future of relations between Japan and the DPRK. I would also like to ask your thoughts on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, including whether it will remain effective. Although I think that there is also the aspect that the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration was built based on the statement by Prime Minister Murayama, in that sense, this year Prime Minister Kan released a statement, and I think that this may form the basis for a new diplomatic venue or framework. Please tell us your views on this.

Minister: I think that there are a number of critical documents for diplomacy with North Korea, one of which is the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of 2002. I wish to reiterate that this remains in effect, and that we remain committed to it after the change in governments. Another such document is the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks of 2005. This is also an extremely important declaration. It is our hope that North Korea will carry out this declaration in good faith, and we intend to encourage North Korea to do so. There are also the multiple UN Resolutions. I think that it is very important that we fulfill our role as a member of the United Nations with regard to Resolutions 1718 and 1874. I am not saying that North Korea is not important, but rather that I did not mention North Korea because I would also have had to mention so many other countries that we would have run out of time for your questions. I think that the recent series of actions by North Korea should be condemned by the international community, including the attack on Yeongyeong Island sinking of South Korean corvette Cheonan and the development of enriched uranium. As I stated earlier, I therefore think that it is of great importance to make concrete actions by North Korea to carry out the Joint Statement of the 2005 Six-Party Talks a major prerequisite. We have not rejected the emergency meeting of the Six-Party Talks that China has proposed to the other five parties. We will not, however, hold a dialogue for the sake of dialogue. I think that it is extremely important for North Korea to first show its intention to carry out the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks of 2005 in good faith, through concrete actions. I would like to add that we have also held discussions with South Korea, but there are various aspects that we have not been able to make public to you. Although they were not held during our administration, there have been many different forms of discussions between Japan and South Korea, and we must thoroughly strengthen these types of bilateral discussions. Issues such as nuclear weapons, abductions, and missiles directly affect Japan. I therefore think that rather than relying solely on these multilateral talks, it is important for us to also thoroughly discuss our own issues ourselves.

Ida, Shukan Kinyobi: How about the statement by Prime Minister Kan?

Minister: Although the statement by Prime Minister Kan is important, it will not change the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of 2002.

Takahashi, Fuji Television: With relation to North Korea, although I believe that the Six-Party Talks are currently paused, what message do you and Secretary of State Clinton intend to send to China and North Korea when you go to Washington in January?

Minister: The Foreign Ministers of Japan, the United States, and South Korea recently gathered in Washington and continued. What was continued was already coomunicated properly to Moscow and Beijing by Director-General Saiki of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and the basic idea of the five parties prompting North Korea to take concrete actions would be unchanged. I think that this will be confirmed.

5. TPP

Nanao, Niconico Doga: This is a question from our viewers. In your opening remarks, you mentioned TPP. It has been reported in the press that nine countries, including the United States, Singapore, Australia, and Vietnam will complete an initial rough draft of a TPP in February. Meanwhile, Japan is slated to complete the draft of an agricultural reform bill around June of next year, and it will consider whether to actually participate sometime after that. In consideration of this, what is your view of this difference in speed between Japan and the participating countries, and the economic diplomacy that you mentioned in your opening remarks?

Minister: The basic policy on comprehensive economic partnerships adopted by the cabinet states that we will begin discussions of a TPP with the relevant countries, including participation, after taking thorough agricultural measures. In response, we are now holding discussions with a wide range of countries, and it is my understanding that a final version will be completed by the APEC in Hawaii next year at the earliest. Although I think that it is certain that there have been a wide range of discussions, such as a rough draft, I think that what kind of drastic agricultural reforms we take are of great importance for Japan to take a firm stance. I also think that we must discuss the specific conditions that must be attached in order for Japan to join. Although our time is not unlimited, I also do not think that we need to rush.

6. Domestic Politics (Appearance by Former Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa before Deliberative Council on Political Ethics) (Omitted)

(Omitted)


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