(* 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 Takeaki Matsumoto

Date: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 5:17 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Follow-up Meeting on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
    • (2) Visit to Japan by H.E. Mr. Antonio Milososki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  2. Realignment of US Forces in Japan
  3. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)
  4. Policies on Nuclear Power Plants
  5. Public Disclosure and Announcement of Information on Nuclear Power Plants
  6. Diplomatic Activities during Golden Week Holidays
  7. Visit to Japan by the Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Follow-up Meeting on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Minister Matsumoto: A follow-up meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be held in Tokyo from Thursday, June 2 through Friday, June 3.
The meeting has been arranged since when Prime Minister Kan announced Japan’s intention to hold it in Tokyo when he attended the UN MDGs Summit in September last year. This ministerial-level meeting aims at reinforcing the cooperation among a wide range of stakeholders for the attainment of the MDGs, eight goals in the field of development as assignments that the international community must complete by 2015.
We believe that the world's trust that Japan has gained through the accumulation of international cooperation exists behind the support and encouragement from the world in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. For the further reinforcement of such relationship of trust, we would like to continue working steadily on contributions to the international community, such as official development assistance (ODA), while actively promoting global discussions through the holding of international conferences like this one.

(2) Visit to Japan by H.E. Mr. Antonio Milososki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Minister: His Excellency Mr. Antonio Milososki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has arrived in Japan today(April 26) and will stay here until April 28. I am scheduled to hold talks with him tomorrow.
His visit this time was realized with his intention to convey the feeling of support for the people of Japan, in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. I hope to express our gratitude for the sympathy and donations from the country.

2. Realignment of US Forces in Japan

Matsudo, Ryukyu Shimpo: I heard that you had tripartite talks over Okinawa-related issues with Chief Cabinet Secretary (and Defense Minister Kitazawa) today. Could you tell us what you mentioned in the talks? I have another question. Defense Minister Kitawaza says that he will visit Okinawa to convey the ideas of the government. Do you have any plans to visit Okinawa to show any ideas, such as the mitigation measures of the government for the existing problems in Okinawa?

Minister: I believe that Minister Kitazawa will convey whatever necessary when he visits Okinawa. Since the occurrence of the earthquake, we have not had much time to share our thinking over the issue. Today, we were able to share our idea of continuous efforts toward the solution of the problems while exchanging views. In that sense, please understand that we reconfirmed various challenges to be tackled. I still have not found an opportunity to visit Okinawa. One reason for this is that the earthquake occurred soon after I took office. I am looking forward to an opportunity to visit there.

3. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

4. Policies on Nuclear Power Plants

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to ask a question about Japan's policies on nuclear power plants. In my understanding, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Japan last time, he demanded that Japan give an explicit explanation about its arrangements for nuclear power plants and ideas on further action at the next Summit meeting in France, which Prime Minister Kan accepted. There is not much time left. As long as we see the situation inside Japan, however, it does not seem that Japan has shown the direction of its basic policies, that is, the orientation of Japan's nuclear power policies or nuclear power plant exports. What schedule do the government and the ruling party assume when it has to form a consensus within a limited time, and what are you going to argue? Please tell us your prospects.

Minister: President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Kan's discussions in the meeting and remarks at the conference served as a major milestone for Japan's continuous activities toward improvement and reinforcement in the field of nuclear safety. In a sense, it could be said to be a start , considering a series of discussions this year. I believe that the Prime Minister has a concrete idea about what he should maintain at the G8 meeting. As a matter of course, we are not ready to say something definitive at this stage as to the extent of Japan's nuclear policies in the future. This is what I have said repeatedly in the past. In any case, as I have reiterated, nuclear energy is a very important energy source among all energy sources presently available to humans, and it will account for a big weight in the future as well. In that sense, there will be a debate at the G8 meeting on how much we should rely on nuclear energy in the future. In that case, I do not think that it will be an extreme debate on whether we should rely on it 100% or 0%. I believe that the Prime Minister shares the perception that it is important to discuss nuclear safety first. This involves very technical aspects as well. Therefore, it is desirable that a well-balanced combination of the world's political leaders and experts' discussions will produce a kind of relief to be provided for all the people in the world. I think that the Prime Minister talked on the premise that the G8 meeting would be one of the points of such discussions. In that sense, in my understanding, talking about our experience and arrangements made in the past and at present will greatly contribute to nuclear safety.

5. Public Disclosure and Announcement of Information on Nuclear Power Plants

Kamide, Freelance: I have a question related to the nuclear power plant. Mr. Hosono has been taking charge of a joint press conference at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) since yesterday. I think today's conference is going on right now, but it was a meeting that was as long as four hours yesterday. In the beginning of yesterday's conference, Mr. Hosono said that all information would be opened to the public. He talked about transparency of information on nuclear power.
I have a question related to it. The United States is providing support in various forms including reconnaissance planes flying over. If I speak generally, although he said that all information would be disclosed, I imagine that there may be some information that cannot be made public in relation to the Japan-US Security Treaty or what is said to be military secrets. It may not be possible for you to say whether such information has existed in the past. I wonder if it is possible for the government to disclose everything including matters that should be normally kept secret when providing information on important issues that interest foreign people as well as the people of Japan, in particular. I would like to hear your understanding.
I mean whether the information will include the disclosure of the fact that such issues existed or exist. I wonder if there have been any military secrets or other issues not opened to the public.

Minister: I forgot to add one thing in response to Mr. Saito's question a while ago. One of the lessons learned from the nuclear accident this time is, no doubt, that international cooperation is very important to such accidents related to nuclear power, in particular. Therefore, in that sense, the ideal form of international cooperation may be a subject of debate.
With regard to your question, I have no choice but mention in general at the moment as we are still working hard for tackling the accident with international cooperation. As a matter of course, each country has its circumstances and own rules that determine what can be disclosed and to what extent it can be disclosed. The use of military equipment, if any, should abide by the rules. It is true that we should respect the rules of foreign countries if they give us cooperation including the use of such military equipment.
However, in the sense of disclosing everything, the results or contents of analyzed data obtained from foreign countries will be most probably in the range of information shared by the public regardless of whether some specific collection methods or the contents of the original data cannot be disclosed in accordance with the rules of the foreign countries. I believe that Special Advisor Hosono stated that everything would be opened finally in that sense. I do not think that the government could gain the people's understanding otherwise. You may have a question if all information including original data or each individual method of data collection can be obtained from foreign countries that provide Japan with cooperation. If I speak from the standpoint of MOFA, it is true that we are compelled to abide by the rules of such foreign countries. As I said, we would like to summarize what we gather and explicitly explain how the Japanese government or Japan should accept and deal with the contents of what we gather. Meanwhile, I believe that each country will provide us with such information.

Kamide, Freelance: Is that a general theory? Was there any case of such matters?

Minister: It may sound like a Zen riddle, I am talking what I can talk. I have to say that what I cannot talk cannot be talked.

6. Diplomatic Activities during Golden Week Holidays

Nishioka, Mainichi Newspapers: I have a question about your trip during the Golden Week. The final decision of your schedule has still not announced. Please tell us what has been discussed in the background. Will you tell us about the time limit for your final decision?

Minister: I would like to visit the United States on April 29 to express our appreciation for Japan-US cooperation and discuss the future of the Japan-US alliance, and hope to have opportunities to exchange views with the Secretary of State and other stakeholders. A foreign ministerial meeting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is planned and co-hosted by Japan on April 30. As you are aware, a follow-up meeting hosted by Japan for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) will open on May 1 in Africa. Then, I expect to have an opportunity to have talks with the members of EU, which will contribute to the economic development of Japan. I am strongly aware that these are all essential to the current standpoint of Japan. At this stage, we are asking all Diet members concerned for their understanding to the importance. In this respect, people will know what debate is going on in the Diet trough the media. I hope that the Diet will understand. I know that there were not many precedents of (Minister’s) absence from the Diet in session, but I expect the Diet's understanding to my absence.
As for the time limit, of course, it is better to decide on the schedule as early as possible when I consider the situation. I cannot say when the time limit is. All I can say now is that I am hoping to make a final decision as soon as possible with consideration of the schedule of the people I am going to meet and in preparation for talks.

Saito, Kyodo News: I have a question about your visit to the United States you mentioned.
I think that Japan and the United States still focus on how and when to open the 2+2 Meeting and the outcome of it. If you can visit the United States this time as scheduled, are you going to refer to the 2+2 Meeting? Please tell us your idea (about the current situation) at this stage as well.

Minister: If I can visit the United States and have talks with Secretary of State Clinton, as a matter of course, I will mention common strategic objectives as a 2+2 security theme. Furthermore, how we proceed with the Japan-US cooperation and the deepening of the Japan-US alliance will be a discussion subject. In that respect, furthermore, when and how to open the 2+2 Meeting will be a theme of debate.
As I said here before, it is difficult to go abroad on weekdays while the Diet is in session. Furthermore, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates have very tight schedules in the rapidly changing international situation. Therefore, I am afraid that I as well as MOFA officials may have to struggle with making schedule coordination among four of us. If I can leave Japan, it will be three days from now. At this stage, I cannot say exactly whether some decision on the opening of the 2+2 Meeting will be made by then. With consideration of the relationship between Japan and the United States, I am hoping that the decision over the visit will be announced  as soon as possible.

Saito, Kyodo News: I quite agree with what you talked about the schedule. The meeting will be very significant and has very heavy contents. As a matter of fact, I believe that you will take the consensus of the Japanese government to the United States.
If you are going to talk with Secretary of State Clinton during your visit to the United States, I think you may have to share a certain understanding with the other members of the Cabinet. Please tell us about your present and future arrangements with the Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, and the Defense Minister to share the understanding.

Minister: We are discussing the common understanding in various forms at present stage. I have talked with Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano and Minister Kitazawa today, while this has been mentioned in a question as well. I think the government shares the same understanding. The deepening of the Japan-US alliance, discussions about common strategic objectives, and issues related to the US forces in Japan are matters all in progress. I believe that our mission is to share the recognition of what is going on at the moment while sharing the government's action assignments with the United States, and clear the assignments one after another to make progress.

7. Visit to Japan by the Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia

Yamamoto, Sekainippo: I asked a question about the visit of Australian Prime Minister Gillard to Japan the other day. The Australian Prime Minister with her de facto marriage partner was granted an audience with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress. I understand that the Australian Prime Minister visited Japan with her partner and you accepted them as a matter of course. The Prime Minister of Iceland entered into a same-sex marriage last year. It is possible that she may bring her partner of the same gender if she visits Japan and express her intension to seek an audience with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress. In that case, will they be accepted like the Australian Prime Minister and her partner? This issue may affect the public image of the Japanese imperial household. I would like to hear your opinion.

Minister: At the moment, I am not in a position to say who is coming as a state guest and whether the state guest is accepted or not. It is rather difficult to answer such a hypothetical question. I personally think that the concept of partners varies with each country and there are various ways of thinking. If I speak generally, however, partners socially recognized should be accepted as they are.

Yamamoto, Sekainippo: Thank you for your opinion. I understand that state guests presented at Court is a kind of imperial diplomacy or a constitutional function of the Emperor, in which, I believe that MOFA's decision is reflected. In that respect, could you tell us your opinion about the government's external crisis management of the Imperial image?

Minister: It is true that MOFA should explicitly inform Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of who is coming and who is presented at Court. However, it is the state guest who is presented at Court, and we are to support the guest and provide possible arrangements depending on the schedule of the guest.
With regard to your question about partners, if a state guest visits Japan as a partner or with a partner, we would like to recognize the fact that the person is a partner and is recognized in the country where the state guest is from as something serious.

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