(* 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: Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 5:00 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room
- Opening Remarks
- (1) Collision between Japanese Patrol Vessels and Chinese Fishing Trawler in Waters Near Senkaku Islands
- Democratic Party of Japan Presidential Election (US Military Realignment Issue-related matters only)
- Collision between Japanese Patrol Vessels and Chinese Fishing Trawler in Territorial Waters around Senkaku Islands
- Realignment of US Forces in Japan
- Visit to Japan by US Special Envoy for North Korea Bosworth
1. Opening Remarks
(1) Collision between Japanese Patrol Vessels and Chinese Fishing Trawler in Waters Near Senkaku Islands
Minister: This remark concerns the collision between a Japanese patrol vessels and a Chinese fishing trawler in the waters near the Senkaku Islands. A situation has continued in which various high-level visits from China (to Japan) have been cancelled, and scheduled negotiations have not been held. Since this incident is not directly related to other issues, I think that it is vital to respond calmly. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responding in accordance with that approach.
One extremely unfortunate point, however, is a fundamental difference in the awareness of the facts, which are a precondition. Needless to say, Chinese side has reported that the Japan Coast Guard’s patrol vessels collided with the Chinese fishing trawler. I would like to state clearly here that this contradicts the facts.
Although I cannot make it public at this time, I have seen the video, and the video clearly shows that the damage to the patrol vessel is in one location on the back (aft), and one location on the side of the boat, which can be noted even without watching the video. I cannot think of any way that a boat can collide with another except from the front, so if it had been the Coast Guard vessel that collided with the Chinese trawler, the damage should have been on the front (prow). The fact that the damage is on the side or the back shows that the argument that the Japanese Coast Guard vessel is the one that collided with the Chinese trawler is absolutely not based on the facts. This is what anyone thinks from what they have seen, and this is what I believe.
We first make these facts fully clear, and hold discussions based on those. I assume that some Chinese citizens make various debates on the presumption of the announcements by the Chinese side. I would therefore like to state clearly that this is not the case.
I would therefore definitely like for the Japanese media, and of course it does not have to be the Japanese media; I would like for a wide range of media to communicate that the Government of Japan does not believe that the patrol vessel collided with the Chinese fishing trawler. I think that this would clear up a wide range of misunderstandings.
2. Democratic Party of Japan Presidential Election (US Military Realignment Issue-related matters only)
Nakaima, Ryukyu Shimpo: I feel that in their debates held during the presidential election, slight differences could be seen between the views that Mr. Ozawa and Mr. Kan hold with regard to Futenma. Mr. Ozawa indicated a view that with the way things are going, it would be rather difficult to implement the Japan-US agreement. However, now that Mr. Kan has been re-elected, how will things be moved forward in the future? I have the impression that it has become clear that there are various views within the party.
Minister: Frankly speaking, I do not think that the Futenma issue was a major point of contention in this presidential election. If either of them had clearly said “outside the prefecture or outside the country,” I think that it would have been a point of contention. However, Mr. Ozawa did not speak about (relocating Futenma Air Station) to outside the prefecture or outside the country. He also did not reject the Japan-US agreement.
In that sense, they stood on the nearly the same principle or a common base. I think that Mr. Kan also said to the effect that things would not move forward without Okinawa’s understanding. Therefore, I feel that there were hardly any differences.
In any case, neither of them spoke about “outside the prefecture or outside the country,” so I believe that they discussed the Futenma issue with a substantially common understanding. However, whether the people of Okinawa understood that is another matter, but objectively speaking, I think that is it.
3. Collision between Japanese Patrol Vessels and Chinese Fishing Trawler in Territorial Waters around Senkaku Islands
Asaka, Freelance: I would like to ask a question concerning the issue of a Chinese fishing trawler (that rammed into Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels) off the Senkaku Islands. You said earlier that there is a difference in awareness of the facts that serve as premises, with the Chinese side acknowledging that the patrol vessels collided with the fishing trawler from behind, but that that is not true and their awareness differs from that of the Japanese Government. The awareness of the Japanese Government is that the Chinese fishing trawler conducted illegal acts inside Japanese territory. Therefore, the difference in awareness of the facts lies in whether the Chinese fishing trawler conducted illegal acts inside Japanese territory. How do you feel about this point?
Minister: This time, the ship’s captain has been arrested, and the reason for that is obstruction of the execution of official duties. Our assertion is that as we believe that the Chinese fishing trawler obstructed the execution of official duties, we plan to build a case around that. These are the facts.
Asaka, Freelance: Then, regarding this trawler incident, do you believe that the Chinese trawler did not intrude into Japanese territory?
Minister: I have no intention to say that. However, what is at issue this time – the fact that the captain of the fishing trawler has been arrested – the reason for that is as I just explained.
I may have been a little inaccurate earlier and spoke of an “announcement by the Chinese side,” but this is not a reference to the Chinese “Government,” but to the Chinese “media” (reported) that our patrol vessel collided with the Chinese fishing trawler from behind. I meant to say the Chinese media.
Asaka, Freelance: The Chinese side summoned the Japanese Ambassador four times to lodge a protest over this incident, so does this not mean a protest from the Chinese Government?
Minister: First of all, I think that it is probably not true that our Ambassador was summoned four times. Although I do not remember accurately, I think that there was a case in which the Ambassador went to lodge a protest. However, it is true that he was summoned by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Mr. (State Councilor) Dai Bingguo. Before that, I am quite sure that the Ambassador went to lodge a protest over this incident. I am not confident whether this was once and three times, or twice and twice. At any rate, it is not necessarily the case that the Ambassador was summoned by the Chinese side in all instances.
Asaka, Freelance: According to reports, the Ambassador was first summoned twice for two days in a row and finally at midnight. My understanding is that this is quite serious, and while I am aware that the Ambassador was summoned, the Government of Japan merely summoned a counselor, and as for the rest, protested over the telephone. Considering the balance in the way that countries lodge protests, I feel that the Government of Japan should make stronger assertions, as it is Japan whose territory has been violated. I question this point that there is a lack of balance here. I also think that it could be viewed that China is trying to inflate this issue and arouse international opinion, but you have said that Japan intends to “deal with it in a calm manner.” If this means that Japan will keep quiet, then how are you giving consideration to international opinion?
Minister: Japan is not remaining silent. We arrested the captain of the fishing trawler, and as I mentioned earlier, we have said that reports in China that our patrol vessels collided with the Chinese fishing trawler from behind run contrary to the facts. I think that the rest depends on how much coverage you reporters will give. As I said earlier, I do not think that our Ambassador was summoned four times, but I am not quite sure whether this was once and three times, or twice and twice. I think some people are saying that “since the Ambassador has been summoned, Japan should do the same.” I believe that we do not have to do that in particular, as we are solemnly proceeding in accordance with our laws and that is sufficient.
Akiyama, TV Tokyo: With regard to the Senkaku Islands issue, you said earlier that there is a video (of the collision incident), but that it cannot be released at this point. Please tell us the reason for this.
Minister: This is not in the possession of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The JCG has the video, and if it is to be used in the trial, it naturally will not be released immediately, as it will serve as evidence in the lawsuit. However, if you look at the dents, I think that it would be clear from anyone’s eyes. I find it difficult to imagine a case where there would be a dent on the side (of the JCG patrol vessel) if (the patrol vessel) collided with the (Chinese fishing trawler) from behind. The same holds true for the dent on the rear (of the patrol vessel). That indicates that the patrol vessel was collided from behind (by the Chinese fishing trawler) not the other way around.
4. Realignment of US Forces in Japan
Nakaima, Ryukyu Shimpo: I have a question about the Futenma issue. This morning, the Chief Cabinet Secretary stated the following at his press conference: “The results of the considerations by the expert panel released at the end of August presuppose the stationing of the Osprey.”I do not think, however, that the report that was released specifically mentions the Osprey. I would like to ask what is the basis of the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s awareness that the considerations made this presupposition, and whether your views are the same.
Minister: I am also aware of the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s press conference, but I am not sure of the facts of the case, so I will inquire closely with the Chief Cabinet Secretary on this matter. I do not think that the discussion by the experts necessarily presupposed the Osprey.
Nakaima, Ryukyu Shimpo: At this same press conference, if the Osprey is stationed there, then I think that the need of an additional assessment will be a focal point, but the Chief Cabinet Secretary responded that it was his understanding that conducting an additional assessment would not result in delaying the schedule of assessment. This could be understood as saying that an additional assessment is not necessary, but does the government have a unified view on this matter?
Minister: I did not necessary interpret the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s statement as saying that an additional assessment is not necessary. At any rate, it is possible that it may fit within a certain scope in which an additional assessment would not be required, in terms of the area to be landfilled, changes to the length of the runway, or those types of standards. But an assessment would not only cover those things, but of course would also cover things like noise, and risk, and those sorts of issues. Therefore, leaving aside what will be done with the assessment, we must thoroughly clarify the facts of the specific flight routes, and the noise that they will generate. If the Osprey is properly stationed there, then although I think that it will differ depending on when they are stationed, and how many, when this has been clearly determined, then I think we must conduct a study of these matters – and here I use the term “study” in a different sense then an “assessment”– and of course, we must explain this to the local community.
Yamauchi, Nikkei Shimbun: This is in regard to the election of the Mayor of Nago the other day. The mayoral candidate who opposes the acceptance of the base won the election. I think that this means that the Futenma issue will remain the largest diplomatic issue for the Kan administration, but what will your priorities be?
Minister: The election of the Nago City Council is a reflection of the will of the residents of Nago, so I think that we must give this great weight. But the specific explanations will be made in the future. We still have the task before us of striving to request understanding, and I intend to work persistently to achieve it.
5. Visit to Japan by US Special Envoy for North Korea Bosworth
Higa, Kyodo News: Today, Mr. Bosworth of the United States visited to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and met with the Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau. To the extent that you know, please tell us once again the purpose and significance of the meeting and the position of the Government of Japan.
Minister: I have not confirmed the outcome of the meeting yet, so I have no comments in particular. I think that I will be receiving a report shortly. However, Japan, the United States, and South Korea are currently not apart with regard to their views, so instead of new developments, I believe that I will be able to hear from him various beneficial matters such as North Korea’s recent moves – for example, (General Secretary Kim Jong Il’s) visit to China or the outlook on the Party Conference (meeting of Representatives of the Workers Party of Korea).
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