(* 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, June 25, 2010, 3:00 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room
- Opening Remarks
- (1) World Cup Soccer Games
- (2) Conclusion of Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
- Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation
- Conclusion of Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
- US Military Realignment Issue
- Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and Global Warming Countermeasures
- Resignation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia
- Elections in Japan and Internet Use
- Setting of Maritime Exclusion Zones by North Korea
- Accompanying Prime Minister to G8 and G20 Summits
- Revision to Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) Line
- ODA (Contribution to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)
- Japan-US Relations
- Other Matters
1. Opening Remarks
(1) World Cup Soccer Games
Minister Okada: I have two announcements.
I was very happy that (the Japanese team) won a sweeping victory over the Danish team at the World Cup Soccer Games. When I visited South Africa, I told Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane that I would come back for the final match (if the Japanese team made it to the final match), but I think it would be wonderful if that became a reality. I watched the three matches (the Japanese team) played during this time, and they have been performing very well. They even scored three points yesterday, so I think we can hold great expectations, moving forward. You will probably ask me anyway, so I will say this. I was asleep, so I did not watch that match. I confirmed it (outcome of the match) on television this morning.
(2) Conclusion of Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
Minister: The other announcement is that with regard to the Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, (Japan and India) are scheduled to hold the first round of negotiations on the 28th and 29th (of June) in Tokyo. The nuclear energy agreement with India is a very difficult issue – an issue for which it is not very easy to find answers. However, as a result of conducting careful studies, it has been decided that negotiations would be started for concluding a nuclear energy cooperation agreement. To begin with, it was decided at a meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in September 2008 to exempt India (from certain restrictions) and approve of cooperation (by NSG members) in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, provided that it meet a series of commitments and actions. Of course, the NSG decision was unanimous, and the Government of Japan voted in favor (of the decision). Of course, India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and there is such a problem. If we think about (nuclear) nonproliferation in the future, the impact that it (the NSG waiver for India) may have on that (nonproliferation in the future) is naturally conceivable. However, (the NSG waiver) was approved based on the judgment that this would serve as an opportunity to draw India into an international framework for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons in the sense of having India involved in an international nuclear nonproliferation regime and take responsible action within a certain scope in the area of nonproliferation, rather than having it remain completely outside of the NPT. Even after the decision on the exemption, Japan has watched India’s actions, and the latest decision (starting negotiations on the nuclear energy cooperation agreement) was made upon confirming that India has continued to steadily put its commitments into action since then. In addition, we arrived at this decision, taking into consideration the standpoint with regard to such matters as measures against climate change and global warming, the bilateral relations between Japan and India, and Japan’s energy and industrial policies. Of course, in promoting negotiations on the agreement, it is also important to give thorough consideration to the perspective of nuclear nonproliferation, and we intend to call on India to continue making further efforts with regard to nuclear nonproliferation.
2. Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation
Nezu, NHK: I have a question in relation to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. I believe that in response to a newspaper interview the other day, you indicated your intention to hold ministerial-level talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September this year. I believe that you have indicated that you had been thinking about this for some time, but please tell us once again about the significance and the objectives of such talks or your thoughts on them.
Minister: This has not been officially decided yet, so there is nothing certain that I can speak about. I am currently consulting with the foreign ministers of various countries. Roughly speaking, however, the NPT Review Conference was held, and amid a situation where even after that, it is still necessary to make continuous efforts to bring about a world that is free of nuclear weapons, Japan, for its part, intends to firmly exercise leadership in promoting such efforts. From this viewpoint, I have been studying the possibility of holding foreign ministerial-level talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September. I am currently consulting with foreign ministers of a number of countries on the details of the talks. I think that it will take a little more time for the matter to take shape.
3. Conclusion of Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
Mizushima, Jiji Press: With regard to Japan and India in relation to nuclear nonproliferation, India possesses nuclear weapons outside the NPT framework, but in the case of Japan, I believe that there exist sentiments as the victim country of atomic bombing sentiments. You just explained it in detail, but for the sake of people with such sentiments, please explain once again the necessity of concluding a nuclear energy cooperation agreement with India.
Minister: Your question is based on the perspective of sentiments of atomic-bomb victims, but Japan is indeed the only country that was the victim of atomic bombs. At the same time, it is all the more necessary to achieve nuclear nonproliferation, and I believe that it is an important policy for Japan to aim at a “nuclear weapon free world” in the future, including firmly dealing with nuclear disarmament.
However, as I mentioned earlier, India is not a signatory to the NPT. When India conducted nuclear tests, Japan also imposed sanctions on India. Various debates have been held within the international community regarding whether it would be better to let India remain outside the framework of the NPT or have it involved within a certain framework, although it may be insufficient. NSG members unanimously chose the latter option.
On the occasion, there were various arguments within Japan, of course. When the direction (of the NSG members) began to firm up, not engaging in nuclear energy cooperation with India may have been one option that Japan could have chosen. However, that would hardly have affected the major trend, shall I say, or that would have affected Japan, of course, but from the standpoint of aiming at nuclear disarmament or a “nuclear weapon free world,” the trend had already taken shape with regard to how to deal with India. Therefore, it has become difficult for Japan alone to make a different decision.
On the other hand, as there are positive reasons that I mentioned earlier, we made a comprehensive decision, although it was a very difficult decision, to aim at concluding a nuclear energy cooperation agreement (with India).
Ukai, Asahi Shimbun: Have you already thought up a timetable or something similar for this Japan-India nuclear energy cooperation agreement?
Minister: That is to be determined, so I have nothing of that sort in particular. However, although it depends on the contents, as long as we are going to work on the agreement, I think we should hold thorough discussions and aim at concluding the agreement expeditiously.
Ukai, Asahi Shimbun: When you spoke about this nuclear energy cooperation agreement, you made a comment to the effect that due consideration would be given to the perspective of nonproliferation. What specifically do you think must be guaranteed?
Minister: For one thing, I believe that there is the question of what to do about nonproliferation, shall I say, or nuclear tests. We hope to be able to put a certain amount of brakes on those things through discussions, moving forward.
4. US Military Realignment Issue
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: There have been some reports that Prime Minister Kan has instructed foreign affairs authorities not to present Japan’s plans or Japan’s thoughts with regard to the relocation of Futenma Air Station until voting and vote counting for the upcoming House of Councilors election has been completed. Please tell us about the facts with regard to this.
Minister: That is not the way I understand it in particular. I do not acknowledge that there were such specific instructions. However, this is a very complicated issue and a very important issue as well, so since there has been a change of the administration, it is necessary to improve communication within the Cabinet and carefully discuss our future directions.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: You all have been saying that it is necessary to gain the understanding of the local communities with regard to the government’s plan to relocate Futenma Air Station to another site within the prefecture, but during a session of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly (OPA) yesterday, the governor of Okinawa, in response to interpellations at the OPA, repeatedly indicated a view that he has maintained for quite some time that the relocation of Futenma Air Station to another site within the prefecture would be very difficult. The governor then told reporters that relocating (Futenma Air Station) within the prefecture is almost impossible – an expression that seems to us to be quite strong and goes a step further than before. In this way, (the governor) has repeatedly indicated his view that the situation is severe, but amid this situation, you have repeatedly spoken about presenting burden reduction plans in this regard. What are your thoughts on the roadmap regarding specifically how the government intends to obtain the understanding (of the local communities), moving forward?
Minister: I believe that the efforts to obtain understanding refers (to resorting) to all means, shall I say, or all channels, shall I say, including making efforts directly aimed at not only the governor but also the residents of Okinawa. It is not very easy to speak about specifically what (the government intends to do in order to obtain understanding of the local communities), but I believe that it would be impossible to obtain understanding unless we take all matters into consideration. Therefore, I feel that we need to firmly exert efforts.
Hatakeyama, Freelance: You said earlier that (the government) will make every effort to have the residents of Okinawa directly gain understanding (of the government’s plans), but the Democratic Party of Japan has not fielded a candidate in Okinawa to run in the upcoming House of Councilors election. If you speak about all opportunities (to obtain understanding), do you not feel that fielding the DPJ’s own candidate in Okinawa is one way to obtain understanding?
Minister: If we were to field a candidate, we have to field a candidate in line with the policies of the government and the Cabinet, but I believe that in reality, we are faced with a difficult situation.
Since the DPJ thought that it would not be proper to field a candidate who is opposed to the policies of the government and the Cabinet, the party passed over fielding a candidate this time.
Tanaka, JanJan: Professor George Packard, who was the chief of the CIA’s Tokyo Bureau during the time that (Edwin O.) Reischauer served as US ambassador to Japan, gave a lecture yesterday. I went to that lecture. Professor Packard is a person who has been saying that Futenma Air Station should be closed down. He says that the Futenma issue is an internal problem of the US Government. Taking such matters into consideration, are there any unhurried strategic plans to wait until the time is slightly riper, wait until US President Barack Obama can gain control over the military-industrial complex to a certain extent, although he will likely not be able to gain total control, or undertake some relevant behind-the-scenes maneuvers?
Minister: Since I have no reasons that will necessarily make me feel convinced that what Mr. Packard says is correct, I find it difficult to answer your question in particular; I do not think I can answer that question.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: My question is in relation to the earlier question about the DPJ’s not fielding a candidate to run in the Okinawa constituency. However, (Shokichi) Kina, head of the DPJ’s Okinawa chapter, who hails from Okinawa, is running on the proportional representation ticket, and the party has endorsed him. Amid this situation, I believe that Mr. Kina is running in the election while calling for the relocation (of Futenma Air Station to a site) outside of the prefecture or outside the country, in other words, making assertions that run counter to the government’s policies. You said earlier that since the DPJ should not field a candidate who opposes the government’s policies, the party did not field a candidate for the Okinawa constituency. How do you feel about the situation in which Mr. Kina is running on the proportional representation ticket with the party’s endorsement, yet advocating relocation (of Futenma Air Station to a site) outside of the prefecture or outside the country?
Minister: I am not aware of the details with regard to what Mr. Kina is advocating. Therefore, I cannot answer your question here. In any case, since it is up to the party to decide whom it should endorse, I feel that I should not make any further comments in my capacity as foreign minister. I believe that the rest is up to the judgment of the voters.
5. Japan-India Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and Global Warming Countermeasures
Yokota, Freelance: I would like to go back to discussing the issue of the Japan-India nuclear energy cooperation agreement. You spoke earlier about global warming countermeasures. In addition, this document contains the words “officials of relevant ministries and agencies.” Please tell us whether this means that the government is thinking about the transfer of nuclear power plant-related technology in the future and incorporating that into the (government’s target of) 25% reduction (of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared with 1990 levels).
Minister: I think you should keep that separate from Japan’s 25% (reduction target). That is not directly related to Japan’s 25% (reduction target). However, in dealing with the problem of global warming, how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the so-called BRICs, which are countries that are expected to achieve economic growth and thus produce more greenhouse gas emissions, is a very important topic, and that applies to India as well. Therefore, the fact that nuclear power generation will spread in India should be welcomed from the standpoint of the global warming issue. In fact, the Government of India has a very aggressive procurement plan with regard to nuclear power generation, and although the question of what Japanese manufactures should do from hereon is a matter that will now be discussed, there are some areas where Japanese technology is required even in (nuclear power generation projects) involving the manufactures of other countries, and this is one of the matters that have been taken into consideration.
6. Resignation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia
Ukai, Asahi Shimbun: It appears from here that Australian Prime Minister Rudd has resigned rather abruptly. So far, Japan has worked with Australia to promote cooperation over nuclear and other issues. Will the latest development have any effect on Japan’s policies?
Minister: First of all, I feel that it is very regrettable that Prime Minister Rudd has resigned. He visited Japan a number of times, and although Japan and Australia have differing views with regard to the problem of global warming and the whaling issue, Japan-Australia relations have become very close in general. I feel that Prime Minister Rudd deserves a lot of credit for this. We hope that (Australia) will maintain and further strengthen this policy line under its new prime minister, Prime Minister Gillard.
I was very surprised when Prime Minister Hatoyama suddenly resigned, but it seems that Japan is not the only (country where something like this happens). I am blinking at the drama of Prime Minister Rudd’s resignation.
When I visited Australia recently, I was able to engage in a frank exchange of views with him for more than an hour. I had a keen interest in him as a politician and as a leader, so I feel that it is very regrettable.
7. Elections in Japan and Internet Use
Hatakeyama, Freelance: I have a question for you, Mr. Foreign Minister, as you have many opportunities to meet with politicians of foreign countries. The question concerns elections in Japan and the use of the Internet as seen from the rest of the world. Currently, Japan is in the midst of (campaigning for) the House of Councilors election, but because a bill to partially lift the ban on Internet election campaigning
failed to be passed during the previous Diet session, political campaigning via websites, blogs, etc. cannot be conducted. Today’s press conference is apparently being carried live by NicoNico Video, but it is said that (NicoNico Video) is exercising self-restraint with regard to such matters as displaying comments (on the screen) as a move in compliance with the (relevant) election (regulations). In the United States, for example, Twitter, political donations over the Internet, and other factors played a very big role in the emergence of President Obama. In Japan, however, (politicians) are unable to use the Internet during the election campaign period when voters most need information. In addition, with regard to deposits that candidates must prepare in order to run in an election, there is no such system in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, and other countries. In the UK, the deposit required is about 90,000 yen, while in Japan, the deposits are quite high – a candidate needs 3 million yen to run for a seat in a constituency and 6 million yen for a proportional representation seat. Therefore, it is said that this may be making entry by new politicians difficult. Has the election system in Japan ever come up as a topic of discussion during your meetings with politicians of foreign countries?
Minister: A politician of a foreign country, shall I say – when I had lunch with US Ambassador to Japan (John) Roos just recently, this topic came up. I think there are arguments for and against this matter of deposits for candidacy. Since it involves tax money, it is good that any one can run (in an election), but it is natural to question whether everyone running in an election is actually running to get elected. However, Japan’s Public Offices Election Act itself places very many restrictions including those that apply to the use of the Internet. For example, the law prohibits door-to-door canvassing. The reason is that door-to-door canvassing could lead to possible corruption (vote buying), among other things. I feel that (the law) has been made based on a view of politicians that they engage in some kinds of corrupt practices during an election or on a mindset that looks down at voters, instead of on the idea that election campaigning should serve as an occasion in which politicians can convey various views to the people and allow them to make choices. It is my personal view that such things basically need to be drastically changed.
Kamide, Freelance: You just made some in-depth remarks and I am interested in those remarks, but regarding door-to-door canvassing as an election violation is an old traditional point of argument and many politicians are saying that they should be allowed to engage in door-to-door canvassing in a more open manner. As various things are being said about this, especially in this era of the Internet, does the fact that you went so far as to say what you said – even though you said it was your personal view – mean that specific debates are going on within the DPJ regarding this Public Offices Election Act, or are there some specific outlook or a certain sense of prospects in this regard? Please tell us about anything with regard to the approach being taken in line with the era in which a new media called the Internet has emerged.
Minister: I believe that substantial discussions have been held on a suprapartisan basis at the 21 Seiki Rincho (National Council for Building a New Japan). I think that at the time, Finance Minister Noda and Mr. Genba were the main persons from the DPJ who participated in the discussions. As this perception is shared among various parties, I believe that in view of bringing this about, the bill on Internet campaigning has emerged this time amid this situation. I personally feel that this should be broadened and various restrictions should be eliminated.
Kamide, Freelance: Does Prime Minister Kan share your thoughts?
Minister: I believe that our views are basically the same, although I have never directly asked him about this.
Hatakeyama, Freelance: You mentioned earlier that this topic came up during your meeting with US Ambassador Roos. I have done various coverage of elections in foreign countries, (interviewing) people of Iraq, Taiwan, and other countries. When I told them that in Japan, the Internet cannot be used (for campaigning) during elections, in many cases, they reply wondering why Japan is so far behind. Do you feel that the fact that (the people of foreign countries) think that there is low public recognition of the Internet in Japan would have a positive effect with regard to diplomacy?
Minister: I do not know because we have not discussed that very much. With regard to the Internet, I feel that it is true, but I also think that this is a problem of (the people’s) basic understanding of election campaigning. Rather than suspecting that there may be people who might misuse it if (Internet election campaigning) were liberalized, it should be conveyed to the people that election campaigning is an important opportunity (for politicians) to convey (their policies) to the people and have them make choices based on what has been conveyed. Therefore, since corruption is undesirable, brakes are needed in order to prevent that, but I believe that basically, a scheme should be designed (to enable politicians) to freely convey (their policies).
8. Setting of Maritime Exclusion Zones by North Korea
Asaka, Freelance: It was reported in the media that North Korea has set four maritime exclusion zones in the northwest of the Yellow Sea until the 27th. How does the Government of Japan view this?
Minister: North Korea has been saying a variety of things since the Cheonan incident. Although we are watching this carefully, I think that there is also the perspective that they are doing this in order to keep the debate at the UN Security Council in check. That being said, however, the Government of Japan is prepared to respond properly, envisioning that a wide range of things could occur, and not thinking that it is nothing but talk.
This is precisely why the Cabinet recently met, and formed a common awareness of making proper communication (with the Cabinet).
Saito, Kyodo News: This concerns your statement now precisely. Regarding the messages you have been releasing since the North Korean Cheonan (incident), you said that you do not think that it is nothing but talk, and that you envision that something may happen in some cases. If this is the case, then the security of Japan would be completely in peril. Although I think that it follows logically that the government must advance initiatives giving full thought about this, are you making proper preparations for such cases? Although I understand fully that such security issues, such contingencies, cannot be spoken about externally in a frivolous way, do you feel that there have actually been enough discussions and shared awareness within the Cabinet to thoroughly ensure security, through discussions within the Cabinet? I would like to ask your recognition on this point.
Minister: If North Korea reacts in some way, it may or may not involve Japan directly. We can think of a wide variety of cases. Therefore, what I said was that as a nation, we are continually considering the worst case, and that it is extremely vital that we be prepared to respond to such a case. I do not intend to speak any more specifically on the matter. However, speaking of myself, I will soon be traveling around the country for the elections, but I have asked the officials in charge at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create a readiness for me to return to Tokyo immediately in the event of a contingency.
9. Accompanying Prime Minister to G8 and G20 Summits
Higa, Kyodo News: You are to depart tonight for Canada.
Minister: I am leaving at 4:00 p.m.
Higa, Kyodo News: Please excuse me. While this also came up during the previous press conference, please tell us once again the advantages of your accompanying the Prime Minister this time even though you have no meetings with other foreign ministers scheduled.
Minister: Of course, there are no meetings with other foreign ministers scheduled, and foreign ministers do not attend the G8 and G20 Summit meetings. Summits are basically meetings of the heads of states and governments. Finance ministers do attend the G20 Summit, but foreign ministers have no part in that. However, bilateral meetings are held on the sidelines, and of course, a bilateral summit meeting with Canada has already been held or is being held at this timing. After tomorrow, four bilateral summit meetings – with Russia, China, the ROK, and the United States – are scheduled, and since all of them are very important meetings, it was determined that in particular, I myself would need to support the Prime Minister. It is also because this is the first time for (Prime Minister Kan to hold bilateral summit meetings).
10. Revision to Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) Line
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: Yesterday, the Ministry of Defense announced that the line of the Air Defense Identification Zone, ADIZ, on the island of Yonaguni has been revised, effective today. Although I believe that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified Taiwan of this at the end of May via the Interchange Association, Japan has revised the ADIZ; meanwhile, I think that this was adjacent to Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, and I have not been told that Taiwan retracted its line in the same way. When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke to Taiwan, their reaction, they made a statement that they were not in agreement with this. I would like to ask what assurance you obtained over the concern that they may react, or will not send out a scramble.
Minister: The Air Defense Identification Zone was revised so that the residents of Okinawa Prefecture, and the residents of Yonaguni Town can live their lives without anxiety. Japan was already conscious of the identification of aircraft in the airspace around Yonaguni Island, including areas outside the Air Defense Identification Zone, so this revision will not necessarily lead to a change in the range of action of the Self-Defense Forces. In any case, it is my understanding that this was a decision made by Japan itself, and that Japan did nothing more or less than this.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: Although I believe myself to be fully aware that the change on the Japanese side was a decision made by Japan, but what I wanted to ask just now is when the Taiwanese were notified, how they reacted to this. Did they agree to it, or oppose it? Although this is not a matter of agreement or disagreement, I would like to ask about their reaction. Also, when a Japanese civilian aircraft goes to Yonaguni, and crosses the Taiwanese ADIZ, there is a chance that Taiwan will scramble its aircraft. Since this has happened once in the past, I think that the issue is not how Japan draws the ADIZ, but what will happen to the Taiwanese ADIZ, and I would like to ask your thoughts on this.
Minister: The Taiwanese authorities will primarily make a judgement on this point. At this time, Japan has decided to revise its Air Defense Identification Zone line.
11. ODA (Contribution to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)
Saito, Kyodo News: I have a question concerning ODA. At the end of this month, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East will come to Japan, and meet with various people. Before coming (to Japan), the head of the secretariat told the Japanese media that the UNRWA's fiscal difficulties are now extremely severe; that contributions from various countries have decreased greatly; and that on top of this, the situation on the Gaza Strip is currently as we have been informed, and that he was hoping for a contribution from Japan. Meanwhile, Japan's finances are also in an unprecedented state, and it is reducing its ODA each year. Amid these circumstances, for example, Japan pledged educational funding and so on at TICAD, and is also providing five billion dollars in support to Afghanistan, and although this is being done properly from a strategic viewpoint, inevitably contributions to the UNRWA are clearly falling. Although this is a strategic decision, and may be unavoidable to a certain extent, there are also involved parties who say that we should increase (the contribution) a little more. On this point, looking from the outside, I cannot help but think that there is a difference in the level of interest in Africa and TICAD on the one hand, and Palestine on the other. I would like to ask you to explain this point, and for your views on contributions to Palestine moving forward.
Minister: On the subject of the activities of the UNRWA, I have visited camps before, and had the opportunity to see schools and so on, and the lives of the people residing there. (The camp residents) have lived there for an extremely long period of time, under extremely harsh conditions, so I also would like to do something to reach out a hand to them.
I would like to discuss this thoroughly when he comes to Japan. It is a fact that we have spent a considerable sum of money over an extremely long period. Therefore, I think that we must also discuss whether there is not a slightly more efficient way to do things. This was also true of TICAD, and it was true of Haiti as well, and it was true with the latest case with Afghanistan, but since this is the tax money of the Japanese people, I have always stated that it must be used properly and efficiently, and there must be no irregularities or the like. It is extremely important for Japanese aid to be used effectively and efficiently, but that said, it is a fact that the situation is now extremely severe, and I would like to discuss views on this with him thoroughly.
12. Japan-US Relations
Kamide, Freelance: On June 22nd, the Japan National Press Club held a debate between the leaders of nine political parties. A wide range of issues emerged from this debate, the issue of the Japan-US Security Treaty in particular. On the topic of the phrase frequently used, "equal Japan-US relations," amid various debate, Ms. Fukushima of the Social Democratic Party made a statement that appears to indicate that she regards the relationship as being unequal. She said, "Mr. Hatoyama spoke of equal Japan-US relations, but in the end, we have gone back to the situation we had with the Liberal Democratic Party." Of course, the Japanese Communist Party was also saying much the same thing. Generally speaking, in the United Nations, big countries and small countries are all equal. In this sense, the word "equal" sounds good, but I would like to ask which points are equal and which are not when you say your often repeated phrase, "equal Japan-US relations." There are of course many limitations relating to the Japan-US Security Treaty, and until now, Japan has been called the junior partner in the alliance, including the issue of lack of jurisdiction, but although there is now an actual election as well, could you once more please explain what is the most important point for equality and the specific situation of Japan in this regard?
Minister: I gained a renewed sense of this after becoming the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but there are of course many things that the United States cannot do on its own. For many issues, it requires various forms of cooperation from Japan, both in the Asia Pacific region, and with regard to global issues as well. Looking back over the five meetings I have had with Secretary of State Clinton, the main topics of discussion have been issues like Iran, North Korea, and global warming. The media tends to focus on Futenma, but we have discussed these types of issues seriously, both in terms of time and substance. For example, taking the case of the Iran issue, we do not know if the resolution in the UN Security Council would have gone smoothly without the cooperation of Japan. In this sense, in the sense of mutual cooperation, I do not much like the word "equal," since when we stress the word "equal", it may presuppose that the relationship is not equal. I think that we are mutually cooperating in an extremely natural way. Note that I do not know the sense in which Ms. Fukushima was speaking. She has entered the government, but nothing has changed since before or after she entered the government. I think that this is extremely unfortunate.
Kamide, Freelance: This may be a bit importunate, but you said that you did not like the word "equal" because it means that we are not equal, but examining this strictly, do you really think that Japan and the United States are equal? There are naturally limitations of air control and such, and we are protected by the nuclear umbrella, and the United States plays a leading role in the security treaty. With all this, would you still say that we are equal?
Minister: "Equal" does not mean "the same." I would first like to state this clearly. I often give this example, but when we say that a husband and wife are equal, it does not necessarily mean that the roles of the husband and wife are exactly the same. It is also a form of equality for each to complement the other. Under the Japan-US Security Treaty, the United States has an obligation to protect Japan. Japan in turn provides bases to begin with, and at the same time, this has a great benefit to the United States in the sense of securing a presence for the US Military in the Asia Pacific region. When they station troops in Japan, then from their perspective as a sovereign state, it goes without saying that they will create various mechanisms to protect these troops, and when we send Japan's Self-Defense Forces overseas, it also goes without saying that we will consider such mechanisms to protect those Self-Defense Forces. I think that we must continually discuss whether this is within the scope that can be explained reasonably, or if it exceeds that scope, or if the times have changed, and while it was once unavoidable, it now goes too far. But I think that the debate goes a little too far when you say that we are not equal because they are not treated exactly the same as Japanese people. Of course we must continually discuss where to draw the line, but the need to be absolutely identical is not necessarily – speaking generally, this is not the same as being equal.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: You said, "…this has a benefit to the United States in the sense of securing a presence for the United States in the Asia Pacific region." In this sense, looking only at the Western Pacific region, this is true of Korea as well, but the US Military presence is fairly highly concentrated in Japan, and this presence is further concentrated in Okinawa. Seen always from the Japanese perspective, there is the defense of Japan, and the peace and stability of East Asia, but seen from the perspective of the United States, there is also the defense of Japan obligated under the Japan-US Security Treaty. Meanwhile, I think that they position bases according to their own strategy with a view to Asia Pacific, or even to the Middle East as well, and I would like to discuss whether it must be Okinawa in this sense. From the US logic that it must be Okinawa, I think that it does not need to be (Okinawa), or in other words, that it does not necessarily need to be Okinawa when you consider the US Military presence within the Pacific as a whole, within the broader Pacific region. In other words, (I think that) the question is whether one could debate that it does not need to be Okinawa, from the perspective of the United States, not Japan.
Minister: Japan is a particularly important ally in the region, so I think that we have the problem that you cannot discuss peace and stability in Asia Pacific separately from the security of Japan. Also, I think that Okinawa has strategic importance in terms of its location. The question is the extent to which we could build this kind of volume, including maneuvering grounds, somewhere else starting from zero, and this also concerns the issue of relocation within Japan. So thinking of these things overall, I unfortunately think that it would be very hard to imagine moving this somewhere else at this point.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: In the sense of considering the peace and stability of Asia, in terms of all of East Asia, or all of Asia, it is my understanding that, as you said earlier, Japan and the United States have a solid alliance, but when considering how to assure security in Asia, for Asia as a whole, although this span may be somewhat long, speaking on this (time)table, I think that it would also be possible to search for a situation in which they are not concentrated in Okinawa, or in which they are not concentrated in Japan. Is it your intention to not make such as search?
Minister: I do not think that such a thing would come to fruition immediately. Seen from a long-range perspective, I think that various countries, such as Singapore and India, are gradually coming to host US presence to some extent, but as of the present time, I think that it would be very difficult to foresee a country in the future willing to accept the volume that Japan hosts now. I do not necessarily intend to say that this will absolutely never happen in the future.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: Shouldn’t Japan have the will to seek such a way?
Minister: As I said, that will not resolve the current base issue. If you think so, then ultimately Futenma will remain where it is permanently, so I think that we must resolve this properly. The Japan-US agreement was created from this perspective.
13. Other Matters
Nakamori, Ise Shimbun: I believe you recently published a book titled “Okada Gatari Okada speaks.” Please tell us about your intentions and what makes the book attractive.
Minister: For the most part, I compiled what I have so far spoken about in my blog and created a book from that. I mean I wrote additional parts and put them together. There are consistently a considerable number of people who read my blog, but I hope that turning (the contents of the blog) into a book will further broaden the base of readers. I hope that readers will be able to understand as much as possible my views and thoughts behind my carrying out the duties as a foreign minister or as a politician.
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