(* 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, February 5, 2010, 6:00 p.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Opening Statements
- (1) Dispatch of PKO Forces to Haiti
- (2) Foreign Minister’s Visit to Hokkaido
- Revision of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement
- Visit to Japan by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell of the United States (Visit to the United States by a Delegation of Democratic Party of Japan Diet Members)
- Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)
- Dispatch of PKO Forces to Haiti
- Foreign Minister’s Visit to the Republic of Korea
- Foreign Minister’s Visit to Hokkaido
- Recall of Toyota Vehicles in the United States
- A Japan-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement
1. Opening Statements
(1) Dispatch of PKO Forces to Haiti
I have an announcement about the dispatch of PKO forces to Haiti. It was approved at the Cabinet meeting today that Japan will dispatch SDF engineering unit and other units for construction works to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), based on the PKO Law. As I have said previously, I think this dispatch is extremely significant as assistance for the reconstruction of Haiti, which has suffered enormous damage due to the earthquake. Japan will continue to actively engage in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Haiti in cooperation with the international community, by using the experience and knowledge we have accumulated as a nation which frequently experiences earthquakes.
The first wave of dispatch units will leave Japan tomorrow on February 6 and will subsequently be joined by the main unit. To repeat what I have already said about their activities, the dispatch units will contribute to the emergency rehabilitation of Haiti mainly through the removal of debris, the implementation of road maintenance, and the construction of temporary facilities. In addition to approximately 350 Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) personnel, PKO forces will consist of headquarters staff, liaison officers, and Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces (MSDF and ASDF) units for airlifting operation. The location to which personnel will be dispatched has not yet been determined. We are consulting with the United Nations and other relevant parties with the intention of sending personnel to anywhere from the area west of the capital city of Port-au-Prince up to the coastal regions. PKO forces will leave Japan tomorrow on February 6 and start operating at the site on February 8 (Japan time) after making the necessary preparations. The dispatch period will be until November 30, 2010.
(2) Foreign Minister’s Visit to Hokkaido
The final announcement is my visit to Hokkaido. On Saturday, March 6, from 2:00 p.m. I will hold a Foreign Affairs Forum in Sapporo City, Hokkaido. The Foreign Affairs Forum is an annual event to explain Japan’s foreign policy directly to the people and respond to questions raised by participants. I would like to make this an event focused on communication with the people. I will also use this opportunity to meet the Governor of Hokkaido, people involved in the campaign for the return of the Northern Territories, and others, in order to exchange views on the Northern Territories issues and Japan-Russia economic relations. I am also looking forward to exchanging views on the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting and other APEC-related meetings to be held in Sapporo this year. I will visit Nemuro City the following day on Sunday, February 7 to hold a dialogue with people involved in the campaign for the return of the Northern Territories, including former residents of the Northern Islands.
2. Revision of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement
Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
Regarding the report on the revision of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, during a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee today, you stated that “there are parts that can be implemented, but it has also been pointed out that there are parts that were not fully implemented.” Regarding the current Status of Forces Agreement, which parts were you referring to when you said some parts where not fully implemented? I believe you have mentioned environmental issues before, and there is also the issue of criminal jurisdiction, but can you give us more detail on how these issues were not fully implemented?
Take the issue of noise pollution, for example. It was agreed on that take-offs and landings should take place during a specified time. Of course there was a clause for exceptions. However, for example, at Kadena, even though most airplanes belonging to Kadena Base followed the agreement, the fact is that other airplanes frequently take off and land early in the morning or late at night. While not actually a violation, this seems to be against the spirit of the agreement. I believe that this agreement should be implemented more thoroughly. I also wonder – and this topic has come up during my press conferences before – if conducting low-level flight training which seems to be for take-offs and landing at private sector airports without any prior warning is something that follows the agreement between Japan and the United States. I stated that these issues must be thoroughly discussed and their implementation improved.
Question (Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo):
On the Status of Forces Agreement, what I just asked about was the developments regarding the Status of Forces Agreement that were discussed during the Budget Committee meeting today. What you just stated about thoroughly discussing and improving implementation – the first issue was about noise pollution control measures. However, strictly speaking, that is part of another agreement between Japan and the United States, separate from the Status of Forces Agreement. Can you tell us any details on developments regarding points of argument for the revision of the Status of Forces Agreement?
I understood your question to be about implementation and so I answered the way I did. Regarding the Status of Forces Agreement itself, as I stated in the Diet, I would like to thoroughly discuss this issue, because it is necessary and it is also stipulated in the Agreement for a Three-Party Coalition Government. In thinking about the results, I believe that bringing up too many things at once will not lead to a good solution. Therefore, I would like to come to a conclusion first about the Futenma relocation issue with the United States by the end of May, and based on the trust we build, I would like to start discussions on the revision of the Status of Forces Agreement. I believe that this is what I stated at my recent foreign policy speech.
3. Visit to Japan by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell of the United States (Visit to the United States by a Delegation of Democratic Party of Japan Diet Members)
Question (Kaminishigawara, Kyodo News):
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell of the United States talked a little about the contents of his meeting with the Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to the press at an airport in Washington DC. According to what he said, they talked about the Futenma issue a little, and he requested a visit by a delegation of DJP Diet members to the United States around the golden week vacation period [in the beginning of May]. According to media reports, Secretary-General Ozawa is making preparations for this visit or considering it. The end of May is when a conclusion for the Futenma Air Station issue is supposed to be made and additionally, there is talk of a possible 2+2 meeting to be held in the first half of May for a mid-term report regarding the Security Sub-Committee discussions. Do you think that a visit to the United States by DPJ Diet members at this time would have any effect on the Futenma issue or SSC discussions?
I believe Assistant Secretary Campbell also said that “Secretary-General Ozawa said that ‘in principle, talk about policy must go to the government.’” That is how I understand it. The various issues you just mentioned are basically independent and have nothing to do with any visit. In more general terms, I have not confirmed whether Secretary-General Ozawa will be a member of the delegation, but I feel that there has not been enough interaction between Diet members recently, and I believe it is extremely beneficial for Diet members to go directly to various countries – especially to Washington DC as the United States is an ally – to exchange opinions on issues, including government-related ones. I recall that I myself, as a member of the opposition party, used to go to Washington DC at least once a year to meet with then Deputy Assistant Secretary Campbell. I also used to go every year to the Department of Defense to exchange opinions, and I think this was extremely worthwhile.
4. Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)
Question (Nanao, Nico Nico Douga):
I have a question on behalf of our viewers. The US Department of Defense released the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) 2010 on February 1. This review promotes an expansion of the role that Japan and other Asia-Pacific allies play in security, in order to handle various threats. What is your opinion on this?
The QDR has just been released and we are currently in the process of carefully analyzing it. Japan’s role regarding security encompasses a rather large range of items and I believe these will be the topic of discussion in future Japan-US 2+2 and high administrative level dialogues.
5. Dispatch of PKO Forces to Haiti
Question (Noguchi, Mainichi Shimbun):
This is going to be the first dispatch for a peacekeeping operation (PKO) mission after the inauguration of the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The decision this time seems to have been made much quicker than similar decisions when the government was led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). It used be the case that the LDP-led government had to convene various unit meetings and general meetings and go through many procedures in order to gain the approval of the ruling parties before making its decision. That is why it took so much time previously to decide on a dispatch of SDF units to a PKO mission. This time, the Ministerial Committee on Basic Policies was the only institution through which the DPJ-led government made its decision. The Committee made its decision publicly to handle a situation it faced for the first time – the dispatch of emergency units in response to a disaster. Is the DPJ-led government going to follow this simplified procedure going forward when making a decision to dispatch units to a PKO mission? Or is it going to increase the number of public discussions with ruling parties?
In principle, the government did ask the ruling parties for their views. Namely, the government requested the views of the People’s New Party and the Social Democratic Party. The decision was made quickly because it was a disaster that we were dealing with. There was also a deadline for proposals for assistance – we had to make the proposal by the end of Monday. Therefore, the decision had to be made quickly. Another reason is that we believe that Japan should consider engaging in PKOs more actively. As I stated in my foreign policy speech, while Japan’s participation in PKOs has a prominent track record in Cambodia, East Timor and elsewhere, the level of Japan’s recent contributions cannot be said to be sufficient; in fact, currently we have only one mission in the Golan Heights. Meanwhile, the United Nations requested a dispatch of personnel to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). In response to this we raised our hand quickly. Again, as I stated in my foreign policy speech, this is not the end of Japan’s efforts; rather, we will actively engage in PKOs as the need arises. This is what I think as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Question (Sato, Hokkaido Shimbun):
Japan’s efforts for PKOs will not end at a mission in Haiti, but Japan will actively dispatch its units to other missions as well – this is what you stated in your foreign policy speech. On the other hand, Japan’s contributions at this moment are not sufficient. What obstacles or issues do you think Japan needs to overcome to increase its contributions?
There are various discussions including the review of the five principles, which I think involves issues which need to be addressed in the mid- to long-term. There are many missions to which Japan can send units without changing the current structure for dispatches. I intend to pursue such missions going forward.
Question (Nishino, Kyodo News):
My question is about the response that Japan took immediately after the earthquake in Haiti, rather than about PKO missions. I was reading your e-mail magazine and noticed that you decided to dispatch a survey team first before sending a medical team. I think you are examining whether this response earned a score of more than 70 points or not. What is your current evaluation of the response?
One could argue that we could have dispatched a rescue unit to pluck the survivors from the rubble before sending a medical unit. We skipped that step given that Haiti is situated far away from Japan. There are people who were rescued even after a substantial amount of time had passed. The climate condition must have something to do with this. The space between the debris might also have helped the people survive. These are just a few opinions raised. Therefore, we could discuss if we should not have given up on sending a rescue team. We dispatched the main unit without waiting for the survey unit to complete its surveys, but we could have sent the main unit and the survey unit together, and let the main unit wait in Miami, for example, and have them enter Haiti once the survey unit concluded that it was ready to go. We could have started our activities a few days earlier had we followed this step. On the other hand – and I wrote this in my blog – members of an emergency assistance unit told me when we met last Saturday that since only 10% of the locals spoke French and the remaining 90% spoke the local language only they could not give medical treatment without interpreters because of language problems. They also said that, in principle, they had to take care of everything, including food and water, by themselves, and that they could not have engaged in assistance activities had an arrangement not be made for food and water. They shared with me a story of how they were under the protection of a PKO force from Sri Lanka around the clock. We knew that the unit’s camp was protected by troops from Canada or elsewhere, but we had to make sure, completely, that a place was secured inside the camp for the members of our unit to sleep. Sending the unit without confirming this point seemed to me way too dangerous from the perspective of safety because the place that they were going was where PKO forces were developed. Members of the emergency medical aid team to Haiti told me that they were dispatched at the right time because they thought that there would have been various activities they would not have conducted had they been dispatched earlier. Nonetheless, we are examining our decision now so that we may improve our decision-making process in the future.
Question (Nishino, Kyodo News):
Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Kazuhiro Haraguchi stated in a Q&A session at the Diet that he had given a standby order to the Hyper Rescue team immediately after the earthquake hit Haiti. If team members were to be forced to go into a situation where they must take care of everything by themselves, then I assume that Japan would dispatch SDF units. Do you think issues to be examined include the need to give training to this kind of team so that they can be dispatched to help other countries recover from disaster, and the advancement of collaboration with other ministries and agencies?
Preparations have indeed been made. People – be it for an emergency medical aid team or the hyper-rescue team under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications – register their names in advance and we recruit members from among the listed should anything occur. People who voluntarily raise their hands make up the teams that are dispatched abroad. I do not think that it is a realistic idea to organize other special teams – what would such teams do during peacetime? Another point for discussions is whether or not the government should have dispatched SDF units earlier. Some people argue that SDF units could be dispatched in parallel with the formation of an emergency aid team in the private sector, organized by recruiting people from hospitals. Other people say that the SDF is a huge organization and, as such, the formation of units takes time. I would like to discuss these views as well. It also depends on the kind of medical services required. I can tell from previous experiences that in most cases, it is rare that Japanese doctors dispatched as an emergency medical aid team become the first doctors that disaster victims see after the occurrence of events. However, this time, the situation continued for many days. Over that time, despite the late arrival of Japanese doctors, many victims had not had a chance to see a doctor before they saw the Japanese doctors. For example, patients with suppurative wounds were brought in one after the other to the Japanese doctors. Normally, domestic medical institutions which survive areas surrounding disaster sites give treatment to the heavy injured, and Japanese doctors give treatment to patients who have already received treatment in such medical institutions. However, according to members of the emergency medical aid team, the situation in Haiti was such that the medical system had collapsed in the entire region, making it impossible to give medical treatment to victims. This kind of situation could occur in the future as well, and we will take this into account as we conduct our examinations.
Question (Beppu, NHK):
I have a question about the government’s decision on its first move. I think you were in Hawaii meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton when you received the first report on the earthquake that day. You then boarded a plane. Do you think you could have given instructions before jumping into the plane, for example? When you examine your own actions, do you see any that you think should have been carried out in different ways?
I was not in Hawaii when I received the first report. Some people say that Secretary of State Clinton headed to Haiti directly from Hawaii, but if I remember correctly, she delivered an address at the East-West Center after the Japan-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and spent quite long time in Hawaii. I assume that it was in that situation that the Secretary of State heard the news of the earthquake and made her decision accordingly. I boarded a plane one hour after the occurrence of the earthquake. The situation then was such that telecommunication lines had become so fragile that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo could not obtain accurate information. I boarded the plane without any information. It was only after the plane landed at Narita Airport that I received the first report. This depends on how you think about many different issues – whether a telephone line should be secured in a plane to make the Minister for Foreign Affairs reachable all the time, whether such arrangement is possible, and whether the Minister for Foreign Affairs should have his/her own plane. There could be various other discussions, but I think Japan should do whatever it is capable of doing.
6. Foreign Minister’s Visit to the Republic of Korea
Question (Murao, Yomiuri Shimbun):
I would like to ask about your visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) scheduled next week. Could you explain again what kinds of issues will be on the agenda, including economic cooperation, which I expect will be talked about?
Since there are various issues to discuss, we are currently sorting out what issues should be included on the agenda. The Japan-Republic of Korea relationship has been in an extremely good state since the start of the Hatoyama administration thanks to the diplomatic efforts of the Prime Minister and Mrs. Hatoyama. That said, this year has a particular meaning, marking the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula, and I would like to consult with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea about what substantial steps we should take in order to face this year. We are also eager to conclude an economic partnership agreement, and I am hoping to reach an agreement on resuming negotiations.
7. Foreign Minister’s Visit to Hokkaido
Question (Sato, Hokkaido Shimbun):
My question is on the visit to Hokkaido you just announced. You said that you are going to hold a dialogue with people involved in the campaign for the return of the Northern Territories. There have also been moves recently concerning the territorial issue, such as shooting incidents involving fishing vessels. Although it is still a month away, could you please tell us what your aim is in holding this dialogue and what kind of message you would like to send concerning the Northern Territories issue?
Although it is also important to send a message, I would first like to hear the actual opinions of the former residents of the islands. Although I once exchanged opinions with the representatives of these people by inviting them to the MOFA building, I have always been wanting to visit the site to hear local opinions. Since I have had no such chance so far, I am using this opportunity to visit Hokkaido to directly speak with them.
8. Recall of Toyota Vehicles in the United States
Question (Yamauchi, Nikkei):
I would like to ask about the Toyota’s quality issues. Toyota has announced an extensive recall and some point out the possibility that the recall will become a political issue in the United States. Could you please tell us your thoughts on how this issue will impact the diplomatic relationship between Japan and the United States?
I am concerned. In a certain sense, we now find ourselves in quite a sensitive period regarding our bilateral economic relationship. In particular, the automobile industry has experienced the GM bankruptcy. And now this Toyota issue has come up. On the other hand, in Japan we have seen a temporary escalation of the debate over subsidies to imported US vehicles, and this is still being debated. Although this is an issue which should be primarily handled by Toyota, and although the government should refrain from commenting too much on it, I would like to see Toyota make expedited efforts to firmly maintain the people’s trust in the Toyota brand into the future. This brand was highly trusted in the past, as we can see from customer surveys conducted in the United States on customer’s trust of Toyota or Lexus cars.
Question (Yamauchi, Nikkei):
What do you think of the impact this has had on the Japan-US relationship?
This issue has been mentioned on various occasions in US Congress. Although Toyota will be primarily handling the matter, I would like to provide steady diplomatic support to back up their efforts, since the issue concerns not only one company but Japan’s automobile industry as a whole, or rather, the overall trust of consumers in Japanese products.
9. A Japan-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement
Question (Nanao, Nico Nico Douga):
There have been media reports stating that President of Taiwan Ma Ying-Jeou expressed a wish on February 5 to discuss at an early stage a free trade agreement (FTA) between Japan and Taiwan. Please tell us if this is true or not. Additionally, President Ma used the phrase “discussion at an early stage.” What kind of stance do you intend to take regarding this?
I suppose if I give a quick short answer than I will get a difficult follow-up question. I think it is a difficult and delicate situation. First of all, I have not confirmed whether President Ma Ying-Jeou stated such a thing. The Japanese government’s basic principle regarding Taiwan is that we follow the One-China Policy. Therefore the relationship between Taiwan and Japan is extremely delicate. We must listen to China’s opinion on this as well. This kind of economic relationship is quite exceptional. This is not to say that we have none whatsoever. However, while Taiwan is a member of APEC, it is included as a region and not a country. Because of situations such as this, it is not an issue that we can solve simply.
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