(* 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, September 3, 2010, 1:50 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room
- Opening Remarks
- (1) Accompanying Measures Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution on Iran
- (2) Travel to Northern Territories
- (3) Visit to Germany
- (4) Japan-CARICOM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
- Accompanying Measures Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution on Iran
- Democratic Party of Japan Presidential Election
- Sexual Exploitation of Children and Regulations on Expression
- Northern Territories Issue
- Enactment of “End of World War Ⅱ Day” in Russia
- Middle East Peace Talks
- Security Policy
- North Korea
- Realignment of US Forces in Japan (Reduction of Burden on Okinawa)
- Japan-US Relations
1. Opening Remarks
(1) Accompanying Measures Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution on Iran
Minister Okada: First of all, approval was gained at today’s Cabinet meeting, but with regard to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 on Iran’s nuclear issue, the government, in addition to measures for which Cabinet approval was gained on August 3, decided to implement various measures in the areas of non-proliferation, finance, trade, transportation, and energy as measures accompanying the UNSC Resolution, bearing in mind such factors as requests made through the UNSC Resolution. Approval was given on these matters at today’s Cabinet meeting.
Since the Chief Cabinet Secretary has already announced this at a press conference, I would like to comment on the details if you have any specific questions.
(2) Travel to Northern Territories
Minister: Secondly, while it has been taken up here (at this press conference), it has been confirmed that there have been a number of cases in which Japanese company personnel and other people have traveled to the Northern Territories. This is a problem from the standpoint of other Japanese people who have voluntarily refrained from entering the Northern Territories in deference to the Cabinet approval of 1989. This act also throws cold water on the ardent wishes of the Japanese people who have consistently made efforts to resolve the Northern Territories issue for 65 years since the end of World War II, for it could be interpreted as if the Government of Japan acknowledged the current state of the Northern Territories. Therefore, at the today’s Cabinet meeting, I also asked the relevant ministers to keep all parties informed about not having Japanese people visit the Northern Territories in compliance with Russia’s immigration procedures, duly taking into consideration Japan’s position on the Northern Territories issue. At the same time, in case there are companies and the like that have plans for such visits, I requested that the government instruct them to strictly refrain from engaging in business activities that encourage such visits.
In addition, today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cabinet Office once again requested various government ministries, prefectural governments, and major cities designed by the government to remind all parties the intent of the 1989 Cabinet approval. We would like to take this occasion, to once again ask the Japanese people to consider the position of the Government of Japan concerning the Northern Territories, and refrain from traveling to the four islands of the Northern Territories in a way that would undermine that position.
(3) Visit to Germany
Minister: Thirdly, with regard to my visit to Germany, I am scheduled to visit the country from late in the evening of September 6 until the afternoon of September 8. I will be staying there only on the 7th. I plan to exchange views with Foreign Minister Westerwelle on bilateral relations centering on two issues: first, a new small group on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to be convened at the United Nations, in which we would like Germany to participate, and second, the issue of UN Security Council reform. I also plan to exchange views with him on Japan-EU economic partnership.
We will be exchanging views for the third time this year focusing on these issues. In addition, among other plans, I am scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Wulff, whom I have long known, and meet with Minister Bruederle in charge of Economy and Technology.
Since next year marks the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Germany, we plan to further strengthen our solid bilateral partnership.
(4) Japan-CARICOM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
Minister: As you may know from reports already released, we convened the Second Japan-CARICOM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting for the first time in 10 years since the first meeting in 2000.
We discussed such issues as the environment and climate change, the global economic crisis, and assistance for the reconstruction of Haiti.
In addition, on this occasion, I was able to hold separate meetings with all the foreign ministers who participated in this Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and conduct a valuable exchange of views on such topics as bilateral relations, reform of the United Nations Secretary Council, and climate change.
2. Accompanying Measures Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution on Iran
Higa, Kyodo News: I would like to ask a question about additional sanctions on Iran. While what the Cabinet approved this time were accompanying measures pursuant to a UNSC resolution, are these measures Japan’s own additional sanctions that you have so far spoken about, or are they something separate?
Minister: To be exact, they are accompanying measures. I think it should be understood that the Government of Japan implemented them as accompanying measures pursuant to the UNSC resolution.
Higa, Kyodo News: In that case, is it conceivable that Japan would come up with a new series of its own sanctions, or is this final?
Minister: These accompanying measures vary depending on the country. At the moment, we are not thinking of coming up with further measures on Iran beyond these for the time being.
Tsuchiya, Kyodo News: With regard to sanctions on Iran, please tell us whether the latest sanctions would affect Japan-Iran relations and whether bilateral relations were considered when these sanctions were decided.
Minister: I do not know what Iran will think of the sanctions, as we have just decided on them at the cabinet meeting. However, since the international community will implement sanctions in unison based on the UNSC resolution, we would like Iran to take this seriously and make efforts to eradicate doubts about their nuclear development activities. As a country that has built relations with Iran over a long time, this is the expectation and hope that Japan places on Iran.
Yamauchi, Nihon Keizai Shimbun: With regard to sanctions on Iran that were just mentioned, I believe that the latest sanctions include such provisions as restrictions on new energy-related investment. Because there are precedents like the case of the Azedegan oil field, there are concerns that Japanese firms may slip behind Chinese firms while they exercise self-restraint in line with the sanctions measures. Please tell us how you feel about this.
Minister: Since these are sanctions accompanying the measures decided at the UNSC, we addressed the necessity for preventing some specific country from reaping benefits as a result of the measures. I believe that the UNSC resolution was adopted with this in mind.
3. Democratic Party of Japan Presidential Election
Iwakami, Freelance: I would like to ask a question concerning the Democratic Party of Japan presidential election.
Both candidates – Prime Minister Kan and former Secretary General Ozawa – announced their policies at a joint press conference the day before yesterday, and then out a debate yesterday. You have previously announced that you intend to support Prime Minister Kan, but following the disclosure of their policies, which candidate do you sympathize with or favor? Please delve into their policies and tell us your reasons.
Minister: From my standpoint as the Foreign Minister, I feel that foreign affairs have not become a major issue of debate. However, both candidates have spoken with regard to the issue of military bases in Okinawa involving Futenma. Prime Minister Kan has reiterated the government position of settling the issue while respecting the Japan-US agreement reached in May, while Mr. Ozawa has spoken about a plan on which both Okinawa and the United States can agree, although he said yesterday that he has no specific plan. In this regard, we also naturally intend to move forward with the issue by gaining Okinawa’s understanding, so we are currently trying to move forth with a plan that is acceptable to both the United States and Okinawa.
With regard to the Japan-US agreement, Mr. Ozawa said that he does not intend to bring everything back to the drawing board. Therefore, I think that essentially, the differences between the two candidates are very slight with regard to the Futenma relocation plan. I believe that there probably is very little difference.
As far as I am concerned, I have no specific ideas beyond the current government plan of having Japan and the United States reach an agreement and subsequently gaining Okinawa’s understanding. Any further will go beyond my capability, so if there are better ideas, I would like to learn about them by all means.
I heard that today (Mr. Ozawa) spoke about the US Marine Corps in Okinawa. Although there is an issue of nuance here, he reportedly said that there is no need for combat units, based on the presumption that there currently are only 2,000 Marines in Okinawa. However, this is not correct; in fact, even now, there are about 10,000 Marines in Okinawa. Therefore, I believe that misunderstanding can be prevented by making comments after properly grasping the facts.
We believe that Marines in Okinawa are necessary as a deterrence, but there are talks about their possible relocation to Guam. Under the Japan-US agreement, units relocated to Guam will be mainly those of the command staff, and combat units will continue to remain in Okinawa.
If Mr. Ozawa says that these are not necessary, I am interested personally, or as the Foreign Minister, what kind of explanation he will provide in relation to deterrence.
Iwakami, Freelance: In his comments, Mr. Ozawa has stated something to the effect that Japan should have an equal relationship with the United States, instead of a subservient relationship. It is somewhat difficult to understand whether this is Mr. Ozawa’s understanding of the current situation or whether he is saying that this is how it ought to be. Please comment on your perception of the current state of Japan-US relations.
Minister: I do not know how things were more than a year ago before the change in government. However, to say that Japan is subservient to the United States or that relations are not equal runs contrary to the facts. I can clearly say, at least, that this is totally different from how I feel.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: In his comments about the DPJ presidential election, Prime Minister Kan has mentioned reducing the burden on Okinawa, such as relocating Marines to Guam and (returning) the Northern Training Area, in order to gain Okinawa’s understanding. I believe that during yesterday’s debate, comments were made regarding whether it might be possible to give priority to implementing the relocation of Marines to Guam, but I think that this was originally part of a package deal that would be implemented after Futenma was completely relocated to the replacement facility. Even putting aside progress on such matters as the relocation of Futenma, I think that Prime Minister Kan’s comments could be interpreted as giving priority to the Guam relocation plan in order to gain Okinawa’s understanding. Does this mean that the government has gone a step further from the position it has previously taken on this matter?
Minister: I have not directly heard those comments, so I do not quite know what you are referring to. On the other hand, I do understand that at any rate, burden reduction would be carried out first if various matters do not move forward with regard to Futenma. However, we have to deal with the other party, so this is an issue with which we need to be very careful whether such a proposal would be acceptable to the other party and whether this could result in delaying the relocation of Futenma. In other words, it would be undesirable if the situation were to remain in a status quo.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: In response to a question similar to the one just mentioned, Minister of Defense Kitazawa has made comments to the effect that since the Japan-US agreement itself is a package deal, it would be difficult to implement the agreement immediately, but that it would not be surprising if priority were given to holding debates on it (relocation of Marines to Guam) once the replacement facility has been guaranteed to a certain extent. In other words, my interpretation of what he said is that although it would be difficult amid the situation where things are completely stalled at the moment, there is a possibility of approaching the US side on discussing this matter (Guam relocation) first when the prospects are clear to some extent. How do you feel about this?
Minister: I understand this line of thinking very well.
4. Sexual Exploitation of Children and Regulations on Expression
Ida, Shukan Kinyobi: I would like to ask about a topic that had been put on hold before. Since some people may be seeing this for the first time on the Internet or elsewhere, I will start from the beginning. In November 2008, The Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents was held in in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. At that congress, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement.
A provisional Japanese translation was provided, which says the following wording. “In comics, animations and computer games, depictions of sexual intercourse with children are frequently found. Although these images of children are virtual creations and do not exist in reality, it raises serious problems because they generate a social tendency to allow the treatment of children as sexual objects.”
The original English text says “it surely raises serious problems.” The provisional Japanese translation did not include this word, “surely,” but in 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it “surely” generate a social tendency toward treatment of children as sexual objects. Could you please tell us the scientific evidence behind this statement?
Minister: I do not know if one would call it scientific evidence, but it is certainly true that comics and animations differ from cases of actual children in that there is no direct victim. But comics and animations do not differ from real cases in their effect of creating rampant awareness of child pornography. The statement consequently took the approach of including those things in the argument, so that such a situation would not be generated.
Ida, Shukan Kinyobi: You just said that there is no difference between actual child pornography and fictional work like comics in their effect of generating this tendency. What I am asking for is the scientific evidence that there is no difference. For example, the sociologist Shinji Miyadai conducted a sociological survey of the past 100 years. Although it was found to be possible that these things could possible act as a trigger for people with such preferences, it could not be proven that it generated such a tendency. Recent research has also published data showing that when such things are available, people use them as a substitute to satisfy their predilections without committing actual crimes, and that crime rates are actually higher in countries where they are banned.
In other words, I also believe that these expressions are terrible, but what I would like to ask for is the scientific evidence that it surely generates such a tendency.
Minister: I think that there are various debates on this among scholars, so it would not be easy to provide scientific proof at this venue.
However, I personally find it extremely hard to believe that it is bad because it is real, and acceptance because it is animation. Some people may have a different opinion, and this topic relates to the issue of freedom of expression. Still, I do not think that there is a large difference between the two.
Ida, Shukan Kinyobi: In next year’s budget request, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is pitching the concept of “Cool Japan”. The Government of Japan has also shown a commitment to actively promoting such comics and animations. I think that these regulations are completely at odds with those policies. What is your view on this?
Minister: I do not think that they are at odds. I think there is a difference between internationally promoting animations and comics, and promoting all kinds of animations and comics without any regard to their subject matter.
Suzuki, Associated Press: My question is about the depiction of children and adolescents as sexual objects in comics and animations. You said that you personally found it extremely hard to believe that because it is an animation, it is acceptable. Does this mean that your personal view is that such depictions are bad, that you oppose them, and that they should be banned?
Minister: I have not said anything of that sort. This is precisely what will be debated. But while it is true that there are various differences, such as there being no direct victim, even with depictions in animations and comics, especially with the many recent technological advances, there is now almost no difference between reality and artificial creations. I cannot really agree with the approach of creating a strict separation between them. I feel that they are the same, or fairly close to being the same, in terms of their impact on society.
5. Northern Territories Issue
Takahashi, Jiji Press: I would like to ask a question in regard to the Cabinet meeting this morning concerning the Northern Territories. Currently, there is a certain framework with regard to non-visa travel by former residents of the islands. Mr. Muneo Suzuki, Chairman of the Lower House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and others have voiced opinions suggesting further expansion of this framework, shall I say, or reviewing the Cabinet decision itself. How do you feel about this?
Minister: Reviewing the Cabinet decision depends on what is to be reviewed, but with regard to measures that could lead to misunderstanding as if the Northern Territories were a part of Russia or that could result in gradually changing people’s understanding on this matter, there is no change in the position of the Government of Japan. We will absolutely not tolerate that. Of course, I am aware of the Chairman’s comments, and we have discussed the matter again within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the Ministry has decided that it should not be changed.
Shimada, Hokkaido Shimbun: I have heard that at today’s Cabinet meeting, you spoke about keeping all parties informed about the (1989) Cabinet approval. Among people whom I met and interviewed, there were some who said that they plan to go there (Northern Territories) again, and amid efforts to keep all parties informed, there are no stipulations regarding penalties as matters stand now. Under these circumstances, I feel that there are limitations to the Cabinet approval as far as it goes. Aside from keeping all parties informed, is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thinking anew about measures specifically calling on people not to travel to the Northern Territories , or has it already decided on presenting a new proposal?
Minister: There are limitations in that this (travel to the Northern Territories) is not restricted by law. However, the government has once again clearly conveyed its official position and asserted that in a certain sense, this runs contrary to the Japanese people’s ardent wish to have the Northern Territories returned. We intend to reiterate this matter.
Ida, Shukan Kinyobi: In connection with the Cabinet decision mentioned earlier, it may not be proper to say this, but while the four northern islands hardly received any economic aid from Russia more than 20 years ago and were placed in extreme poverty or in a very severe state, they are now becoming prosperous with investments coming in from various countries, so I feel that if Japan alone stays away from doing such things, it could further alienate the feelings of the residents of the islands from Japan.
Of course, as you say, people must actually refrain from doing things that lead to acknowledging or encouraging the perception that the Northern Territories are a part of Russia. However, if we think about the early return of the four northern islands, I feel that we need to win over the feelings of the residents of the islands – the people of Russia who actually live there – and think about how to have them feel a stronger affinity to Japan. With regard to this point, please tell us a little more about your thoughts on whether the Cabinet decision would actually lead to an early return of the four northern islands now that 20 years have gone by.
Minister: We have been conducting exchange programs with the residents of the islands. We also firmly intend to continue these exchanges. However, with regard to measures that in a certain sense would mean Japan tacitly approving the claims of the Russian side, we feel that we need to take a firm position. If Japan were to fall in line with other countries on grounds that these countries are doing it, I believe that in a certain sense, it could be interpreted that Japan has given up on claiming that the four islands are a part of its territory.
Kamide, Freelance: Mr. Muneo Suzuki gave a lecture at an association called the Hokkaido Club. While this is his view on the fact that people, including himself, have been able to do such a thing (traveling to the Northern Territories), he emphasized that in order to resolve this issue, there is no other way than to take the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956, the Tokyo Declaration under the Hosokawa administration, and the Irkutsk Statement under the Mori administration as a basis. He said that after the return of the two islands (Shikotan and Habomai), it would be all right to envision joint management of Kunashiri and Etorofu by Japan and Russia. He also said that he was disappointed that Russia has been acting in an overly fundamentalist fashion ever since the inauguration of Prime Minister Kan. Mr. Suzuki added that since Prime Minister Hatoyama had poured so much effort into this issue, it would perhaps be better to have the former Prime Minister take charge of Japanese diplomacy toward Russia even from here on. Please tell us how you perceive the current state of affairs and what the situation is with regard to Mr. Suzuki’s view.
Minister: I am well aware that Mr. Suzuki has his own opinion on this matter, but, after the change in government, the policies of the Hatoyama administration, the Kan administration, and the Government of Japan have been consistent. Absolutely nothing changed when the Kan administration succeeded the Hatoyama administration.
6. Enactment of “End of World War Ⅱ Day” in Russia
Asaka, Freelance: In relation to the Northern Territories, I would like to ask a question about End of World War II Day on September 2nd.
Regarding this day, it has been reported in the media that Russian Federation Council Chairman Mironov has criticized the existence of Japan’s Northern Territories Day on February 7th, and the fact that Japanese maps exclude the four Northern Territories islands from Russian territory, calling these a direct distortion of history and the current situation. At a press conference in July, you spoke about legally designating Northern Territories Day, responding that you would watch the response from Russia closely. What is your reaction to this statement by the Chairman of the Federation Council? Also, do you intend to respond in some way?
Minister: I am aware that various statements have been made, and they are not compatible with the fundamental approach to this matter that has been adopted by the Government of Japan.
Iwakami, Freelance: Japan marks August 15th as the date of the end of the war. It appears that Russia has recently tended to highlight the date that Japan signed its letter of surrender on the USS Missouri – was it September 2nd?– as the true date of the end of the war. I believe that the goal of this is probably to justify the military actions of the former Soviet Forces, which continued to attack after the 15th, and subsequently occupied (the Northern Territories). Please tell us your views of the correct dates of the true acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, and the end of the war.
Minister: The Government of Japan holds that August 15th was the day that the war ended. As I have said here before, however, I think that there may be a logical case for the approach that it was the date of formal signing.
Iwakami, Freelance: Does this mean that it would be possible to sanction the invasion by the Soviet Forces after the 15th, and that such an approach is logically possible?
Minister: It was clearly an unconditional surrender, or in other words it had raised the white flag, so I do not think that it is conceivable to attack in those circumstances.
7. Middle East Peace Talks
Hanamura, TV Asahi: Peace talks have finally resumed between Israel and Palestine after a hiatus of about a year and nine months. Progress appears to be quite difficult, however. What is your view of the goal of reaching an agreement within one year?
Minister: I would like to appreciate the fact that they are holding concrete talks. They have also started direct negotiations, so I would like to welcome that.
However, extremely difficult talks have been held before time and again. Israel and Palestine, which are the parties to the talks, are not necessarily in easy situations. Amid these circumstances, I praise both countries’ leaders for starting talks, and hope very much that they can overcome these difficulties and reach an agreement. The Government of Japan also intends to make efforts to achieve this.
8. Security Policy
Iwakami, Freelance: On the 28th, Prime Minister Kan’s private advisory panel, I believe it is called Atarashii Anzen Hosho O Kangaeru Kondankai (“Colloquium for Considering a New Security Policy”), released a report. I have also asked you about this before, but at that time you said that it was still a leaked version, and that you would speak of it after the report had been published. The contents of the report have become clear, and the report speaks of revising the Three Non-Nuclear Principles: it suggests allowing nuclear weapons to be introduced to Japan: revising the Three Principles on weapons exports: and revising the concept of creating fundamental defense capabilities, which has long been the fundamental principle of the Ministry of Defense. Although I am well aware that this report and its contents do not directly constitute government policy, I would by all means like to ask your views on the content, about what parts you can empathize with, and which parts are contrary to your views.
Minister: When this report was published, I confirmed that this was one reference, and was told that this was true. Those experts had led the discussion as a reference, so although this is a reference, one does not need to hold to it too closely.
I do not think that it is appropriate to speak about individual topics here, but when these discussions were started, each Minister participated in just the first meeting. At that time, I said the following: “I do not have a good understanding of the concept of fundamental defensive capabilities.” I also discussed this question at the Diet, at the time before the last time that the Defense Program Outline was made. I said, “It appears to only aim to maintain the status quo. I would like it to be discussed thoroughly.” Given that context, I think that the current conclusion that we should end the concept of fundamental defensive capabilities matches my own general views.
As for the other topics, I think that they are good for raising issues that must be discussed by the relevant Cabinet Ministers, but when seen from a slightly broader perspective, I am fairly doubtful whether it would be beneficial for the Government of Japan take them up.
Iwakami, Freelance: You said that you do not want to touch on individual topics too much, but at least with regard to your view on revising the policy on bringing nuclear weapons into Japan, you have touched on this before, so I would like to again ask your views on this point.
Minister: The Government of Japan intends to hold firm to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. But as I have said before at this venue as well, in a case in which the survival of the nation is at stake, the government in power then will make a final decision on its response, and its future actions should not be restricted. These are my thoughts on the topic, and I have responded in this way before the Diet many times.
9. North Korea
Noguchi, Nippon Television: This is in relation to North Korea. The media reported information from a few sources that a Workers’ Party conference would be held in North Korea at the beginning of this month. The South Korean media speculates that the conference would begin around September 4th or 6th. I would like to ask whether the Government of Japan has any information on this, and with how much attention the Government is watching the conference.
Minister Okada: I will not comment on the details of that conference. Of course, we do not know what will be decided there, so a great deal of attention may be required, depending on what decisions are made.
10. Realignment of US Forces in Japan (Reduction of Burden on Okinawa)
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: I would like to ask a question in the context of reducing the burden on Okinawa. I have long been asking how the burden would be reduced, but in the past, there had been a time limit at the end of August for discussions by experts on Futenma, and you had stated that after those discussions ended, you intended to launch more discussions on new reductions to the burden. I would like to ask about the specific schedule for this. What will the venue for the discussion be? Will it be discussed at the next 2+2 meeting, or how and when do you intend to bring it up? Please tell us your intentions.
Minister: Speaking in relation to Okinawa, there is the issue of reductions of the burden that Japan and the United States have agreed upon so far. These reductions include noise abatement. There have been a wide range of other things as well, such as matters relating to incidents and accidents. With regard to such matters, rather than having Japan and the United States discuss them directly at the 2+2 meeting, I think that it is important to move forth discussions thoroughly at the working level, in order to gain the understanding of the people of Okinawa. This is my understanding of the situation. Since one area has settled down, I intend to hold thorough discussions, moving the focus to those areas.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: With relation to this, there was also a part from the end of May regarding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). When will talks take place within the framework of the Status of Forces Agreement? By framework for talks, I mean to ask when you plan to reach some conclusion, in terms of the schedule. What are your thoughts on this?
Minister: Within the Status of Forces Agreement, we will first discuss matters relating to the environment. We will first aim to reach some kind of agreement in that area. Whether this will take the form of a revision to the Status of Forces Agreement, or whether it will take a different form, is still open, and nothing has been decided. In any case, I certainly intend to hold discussions in order to advance beyond the current situation with regard to the environment, and this is also written in the joint statement by Japan and the United States. I thus intend to take firm action on this matter.
Takimoto, Ryukyu Shimpo: Is there any time limit?
Minister: There is no particular time limit, but I think that this must be in a form that is visible to the people of Okinawa in order to obtain their understanding. I believe that this is necessary in order to make overall progress, and I think that the United States is also well aware of this.
11. Japan-US Relations
Kamide, Freelance: I believe that you responded to a question by Mr. Iwakami by saying that it was untrue that Japan and the United States are not equal.
Minister: (Being unequal) differs from my feelings on the matter.
Kamide, Freelance: Many Japanese people, even including former Minister Kamei, have said things like, Japan had to back down in the current negotiations over Futenma in Okinawa because it is not equal with the United States, and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also having to do the bidding of the United States. I think that this view is held very strongly among the Japanese people. Amid these circumstances, could you please explain what you mean by the word “equal?”
Minister: I did not personally use the word “equal.” Although of course it is a fact that the Democratic Party of Japan wrote the word “equal” I would first like to state that being “equal” does not necessarily mean being the same. I have often stated here that we do not have the same rights or obligations. It is quite clear that when one speaks of gender equality, it does not mean that men and women should be absolutely identical. They each have their own roles, and they are even as a total. Speaking of Japan, of course the US Forces are here, and if Japan faced a crisis situation, they would be responsible for risking their own lives to protect Japan. I think it is a matter of course that we should pay them full respect in this regard, but I find it hard to comprehend how this would make us unequal or the like.
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