(* 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 Koichiro Gemba

Date: Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 6:45 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Approval by the Indonesian Parliament for Indonesia's Ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
  2. Japan-China Relations
  3. 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day
  4. Japan-US Relations
  5. COP17
  6. Situation in Myanmar
  7. Others

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Approval by the Indonesian Parliament for Indonesia's Ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Minister Gemba: The Parliament of Indonesia approved Indonesia's ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on December 6, and we wholeheartedly welcome this. I believe that this is an important step forward for the Treaty's entry into force.
 As you are aware, Japan has been actively calling on and providing support toward the Treaty's early entry into force. Japan encouraged Indonesia by taking an opportunity of the recent bilateral talks, and since then Japan has been working at a high level on Indonesia's ratification of the Treaty.
 At the seventh Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Treaty held this September in New York, I called on countries which have not yet signed or ratified the Treaty to do so at the earliest possible time. Japan will renew its call on these countries to ratify the Treaty as early as possible. Japan will also continue making further diplomatic efforts for the Treaty's early entry into force, which is an important step for realizing "a world without nuclear weapons."

2. Japan-China Relations

Tosa, Asahi Shimbun: Prime Minister Noda's visit to China, which had been arranged to take place in the middle of this month, was postponed at the request of China. Would you give us some background information about this and the present circumstance of rearrangements?

Minister Gemba: As you mentioned, the postponement (of the) Prime Minister Noda's visit was at the request of China. I assume that as the Chief Cabinet Secretary also mentioned at his press conference, that China wants to greet the Prime Minister in a good atmosphere. I visited China and felt that China attaches great importance on Prime Minister Noda's visit. Meanwhile, the Japanese and Chinese authorities have been exchanging frank opinions. As a result of frank exchanges of opinions on the best timing of the Prime Minister's visit, we decided to make readjustments to realize the Prime Minister's visit to China by the end of this year, in order to make it a successful visit. As I said at the Committee meeting a while ago, the postponement will have a positive influence on Japan-China relations and will not negatively affect them.

3. 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day

Sakaguchi, Mainichi Newspapers: It will have passed just 70 years tomorrow since the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked on Pearl Harbor. I would like to ask your view over it with consideration of Japan-U.S. relations at present and in the future.

Minister Gemba: Upon the seventieth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, I have a very profound feeling about the fact that Japan and the United States, who once fought in the war, agreed on the Japan-U.S. alliance, and now share the recognition that the Japan-U.S. alliance is exactly public goods in the Asia Pacific Region. As you know, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton clearly stated that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the key stone (of its Asian policies) for the United States as well. That is the reason I have a profound feeling.
 I think that it is important to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance in various fields and I could say that the development and prosperity of Japan rest with the prosperity of the Asia Pacific Region. I think that it is important for the United States to express its firm commitment to and involvement with Asia.
 Meanwhile, with regard to China in this respect, it is important for Japan and China, the second and the third largest economies in the world, to deepen our bilateral economic relations and play constructive roles in regional and global issues.

4. Japan-US Relations

Shimada, NHK: I have a question about Japan-U.S. relations. The Director-General of the Okinawa Defense Bureau was replaced recently. Furthermore, Opposition parties plan censure motion against the Minister of Defense. Are you planning to visit the United States as scheduled? If yes, what significance would you like to find in your visit?

Minister Gemba: The schedule is still under discussion and not yet announced. However, I would like to visit the United States by the end of this year. They expect my visit by the end of this year as well. Presently, this is my intension.
 There are various issues. As I mentioned earlier, however, if I can visit the United States, I would like to have frank discussions on regional and global issues as well as bilateral relations and the deepening of the Japan-U.S. alliance. I would like to have not only formal meetings but also opportunities to exchange frank opinion.

5. COP17

Ikegawa, NHK: In the conference, the EU expressed its conditional support to the extension of the Kyoto Protocol, while China is implying its participation to the framework in and after 2020. Japan has been taking an opposing position to the extension of the Kyoto Protocol. Please tell us what kind of response Japan will make if the extension of the Kyoto Protocol is decided after all.
 I have one more question. I think that Japan has been negotiating with each country for the realization of a new legally binding framework and in a stance to abolish the current framework. I wonder what kind of concrete alternative Japan can present in discussions while the discussions are proceeding on the tentative assumption of the extension of the Kyoto Protocol. I think that Minister of the Environment Hosono is working on this matter on site. Could we hear your opinion?

Minister Gemba: COP17 is just now in progress, and I presume that Minister Hosono is giving a presentation at this time. We have been consistently maintaining that Japan cannot accept a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. The biggest reason is that the Kyoto Protocol unfortunately does not cover countries with high greenhouse gas emissions. The United States and China account for 40% of the entire amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. I remember that the Kyoto Protocol covers around 26% to 27% of the entire amount. A fundamental principle has been set to form a fair and effective legal framework participated by countries with high greenhouse gas emissions. I think we must attach importance to the fundamental principle, for which I can think of two points.
 One of the points is to continue proposing a route for creating a framework including major greenhouse gas emitting countries in the future even if our goal of creating a new legal framework should not be attained.
 The other point is to avoid a period in which no actions are taken even if a legally blank period should result.
 In addition, it is necessary for Japan to make constructive proposals. In this respect, I have made a proposal to launch low-carbon partnership initiatives not only in Asia but also in the entire world. Furthermore, not only CDM talks but also bilateral offset credit talks have been going on.
 I think it is important for Japan’s foreign policy, as well as for our response to the issue, and call on each country to work together.

6. Situation in Myanmar

Kamide, Freelance: I have a question about the Myanmar issue that was a topic in the last press conference. Secretary of State Clinton visited Myanmar and met Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi later, and I believe that there are some exchanges between Japan and the United States, the contents of which, however, cannot be disclosed. I understand that there was a clear difference between Japan and the United States in the evaluation of human rights issues. At the stage of previous democratization, the Japanese Government said that Japan would be involved constructively, and I felt during my media coverage activities that Japanese trading companies exerted great pressure.
 How do you evaluate Myanmar's current situation toward democratization and Secretary of State Clinton's visit? Pro-democracy activists criticized Japan's excessive involvement in the past. Would you give us your evaluation including the criticism?

Minister Gemba: I cannot disclose the contents of what was exchanged between Japan and the United States. At a foreign ministerial level, Japan and United States have exchanged views. However, I cannot disclose the contents.
 As I have been reiterating, this is about Japan’s position on this issue. I have been consistently saying that we must make the Asia and Pacific a prosperous and stable, region based on democratic principles. I also mentioned that we are not simply pushing our value. Japan is an Asian country and thus originally has an Asian sense of value as a matter of fact. Japan is the first country in Asia that introduced democracy, which is also said to be a universal value. In that sense, I have reiterated here that Japan must play a special role.
 In that respect, I think Japan should play a role a little different from that of the United States, to take a lead in encouraging the democratization of Myanmar ahead of the United States. That is, we should be involved in order to make the situation irreversible. Japanese business interests in Myanmar is a different matter. Japan and the United States cooperate and work in this matter. We will exchange opinions frequently. However, I think that Japan should take its own stance in the situation in Myanmar.

7. Others

Morita, Shukan Post: About the sexual harassment case of Ambassador Yoshio Tamura, Ambassador to Croatia, which our weekly reported last week, I would like to ask two questions. Firstly, what do you think of and what are you going to do about this case? Secondly, I have heard that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told executives of MOFA press club member organizations that the MOFA would have to reconsider its relationship with them if they reported the case, effectively trying to suppress reporting. Have you heard of this?

Minister Gemba: For the latter question, I have not heard of it. I am aware of the media report, though. In general terms, my policy is that if there is inappropriate deed of a public servant, may it be misuse of fund or matter of work ethics, we have to respond strictly, and take appropriate disciplinary actions if necessary.

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