(* 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: Friday, May 6, 2011, 3:45 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Report on Official Trip
  2. Alleged U.S. Diplomatic Documents Released by WikiLeaks
  3. Japan-U.S. Relations

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Report on Official Trip

Minister Matsumoto: I would like to report my official trip first. I took an official trip overseas from Friday, April 29 to Wednesday, May 4. In the United States, I held meetings with Secretary of State Clinton, Deputy Secretary of State Steinberg, Secretary of Energy Chu, and National Security Advisor Donilon. Furthermore, I met with U.S. government officials who gave support to us after the Great East Japan Earthquake, when I expressed our appreciation to them for their support. We reached an agreement to cooperate in post-quake reconstruction such as taking countermeasures against harmful rumors, and the maintenance of supply chains, under the public-private partnership of Japan and the United States.
Then, I attended the 2nd Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Berlin, where the participants confirmed to take concrete actions, advancing from the discussion stage. I am convinced that we were able to foster strong momentum to demonstrate leadership for reducing nuclear risks.
Next, State Secretary Takahashi and I attended the Third TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting in Senegal, where I co-chaired meeting with the Foreign Minister of Senegal, the host country of the meeting. I expressed our appreciation to each participating country for their support after the Great East Japan Earthquake. As for the implementation of the TICADⅣ commitment, which has been going well so far, I announced that Japan would accomplish it in good faith. Furthermore, I mentioned the further progress or development of the cooperation  after the quake disaster this time, such as in disaster prevention, for which we received favorable comments from each country. State Secretary Takahashi and I had a total of 15 bilateral talks during our stay.
Then I attended the Japan-EU Economic Ministerial Meeting, where the participants agreed to accelerate necessary work to make the forthcoming Japan-EU Summit a success. As for the EU import restrictions, I requested the EU's appropriate action, taking Japan's measures in consideration. I exchanged views with European Commissioner for Trade De Gucht, who is expected to attend the Japan-EU Summit, President of the European Commission Barroso, European Commissioner Barnier, and European Commissioner Dalli. Furthermore, I paid a courtesy call on Belgian Prime Minister Reterume there. I met and held talks with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Rasmussen as well.
In the United Kingdom, I met with Foreign Minister Hague, and Prime Minister Cameron joined the meeting later and we had talks together. While I expressed our appreciation for the UK's assistance, I told them that we would like to continue cooperating in the field of nuclear safety with the UK, that has shown a very objective and calm attitude, so to speak, to the nuclear accident until now. They expressed their support to the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the deepening of the relationship between Japan and the UK, to which we agreed.

2. Alleged U.S. Diplomatic Documents Released by WikiLeaks

Oshima, Asahi Shimbun: According to one of the alleged U.S. official documents released recently by the WikiLeaks, the United States padded the expense for the planned relocation of Marine troops to Guam and Japan accepted the deal. Would you confirm the facts and give us your comment about the release?

Minister: I enjoyed reading the Asahi Shimbun news in the airplane.

Oshima, Asahi Shimbun: I have one more related question. Another U.S. official document released included a comment of Amb. Saiki, currently Ambassador to India, about the foreign policies of the government launched by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). According to the document, Amb. Saiki said that the DPJ "felt the need to project an image of power and confidence by showing it had Japan's powerful bureaucrats under control and was in charge of a new and bold foreign policy that challenged the U.S." Amb. Saiki called that way of thinking "stupid" in the original document. Do you have any comment about this?

Minister: Again, I read through the news in the airplane back to Japan.

Oshima, Asahi Shimbun: Do you mean that MOFA does not comment at all on this matter?

Minister: It was an interesting reading.

Inukai, Mainichi Newspapers: Although your answer to it may be included in your comment "an interesting reading," frankly speaking, what do you think about the disclosure of such diplomatic exchanges this way?

Minister: Generally speaking, the disclosure of diplomatic negotiations or business negotiations may be beneficial or disadvantageous to both parties at once, depending on the timing of the disclosure. This idea applies to diplomatic documents as well. However, we as the members of the government must inform the public of the truth. Therefore, there is a worldwide tendency to establish a system that will open diplomatic records to the public with an elapse of a certain period. The government is trying to make such a system take root in Japan as well, which includes rules about whether to publish a diplomatic records or not. We must distinguish diplomatic records of open issues from those of closed issues. I must say that it is regrettable that such diplomatic secrets and confidential documents are released in an unauthorized manner.

Inukai, Mainichi Newspapers: The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held a Foreign Affairs Committee meeting this afternoon with regard to the disclosure of confidential diplomatic documents. I understand that Foreign Ministry officials attended the meeting to provide some explanations. As reported by the media, there was a negotiation of a confidential nature under the LDP administration regarding the relocation of the U.S. forces out of Okinawa. The LDP reportedly expressed that it would make investigations with Cabinet members in those days, such as then-Foreign Minister Nakasone and then-Defense Minister Hayashi. Could you tell us what you as a member of the DPJ-led government think of the disclosed facts of those days when the LDP was the ruling party? I have one more question; Some of the MOFA officials' names appeared in the disclosed documents. Are you not going to make investigations with them?

Minister: We will not comment on or confirm anything. If I speak generally, Japan is a democratic country, where the roles of legislators and bureaucrats are defined. We believe that every one of them has been and will be working with their roles firmly kept in mind.

Nishida, Mainichi Newspapers: I have the same sort of question. I do not think that you will comment the accuracy of the disclosed documents. Are you not going to investigate the existence of any ideas or statements of MOFA officials in the documents?

Minister: We are not in the position of confirming or commenting on anything about such documents. Was your question not on the premise that such documents are correct?

Nishida, Mainichi Newspapers: No, apart from whether the documents are correct or not, may I understand that you are not going to check if they made such remarks or not?

Minister: We will not confirm the existence of such documents or comment anything about the documents themselves.

Nishigaki, Jiji Press: I am afraid that I may haggle over the same question, but let me confirm one thing. May I understand that the LDP-led government was not aware of Japan-U.S. exchanges made in those days by the officials referred to in the LDP's meeting? I believe this matter is deeply related to the political leadership set forth in the DPJ administration. Are you not going to make an investigation from that point of view?

Minister: We neither confirm nor comment on anything about such documents themselves; we neither conduct investigation nor make comment based on such documents.

3. Japan-U.S. Relations

Nishigaki, Jiji Press: I have a question about a different matter, which, however, is related to your report on the official trip this time. I remember that you would confirm the importance of the 2+2 Meeting and the Prime Minister's visit to the United States with Secretary of State Clinton and make schedule adjustments. Some media reported that the United States suggested to Japan that  we hold the 2+2 Meeting late in June. Would you confirm this? Would you tell us about the present schedule adjustments?

Minister: I do not think we can keep quiet about the report or make no comments about it. I believe that each media company is reporting what it thinks is correct according to the information that it gathered. However, it is true that some media companies carry reports that are entirely different from those covered by other media companies.
We share the same view that the 2+2 Meeting and the Prime Minister's visit to the United States are both very important matters. However, as a matter of fact, we were not ready to offer schedule adjustments to the United States in March or early in April. We could not find the time to hold the 2+2 Meeting during the Golden Week period though it was usually considered to be relatively easy to make schedule adjustments. In any case, as I mentioned last time, we have been having difficulty in making simple physical adjustments to enable the four Ministers to meet together. Frankly speaking, each of the four Ministers has particular assignments and standpoints. The tough schedule adjustments have been on-going. However, please understand the significance that we reached an agreement on the importance and desirability of holding the 2+2 Meeting attended by the four Ministers as soon as possible. Presently, I believe that officials in charge have been making every effort to adjust the schedules of Secretary of State Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Gates, Minister Kitazawa and mine. I will inform you when the schedule is finalized.

Yamamoto, Sekainippo: Did you not mention that you had met with a U.S. assistance group in your opening remarks about your official trip?

Minister: I met with governmental assistance staffs concerned.

Yamamoto, Sekainippo: Were they governmental assistance staffs concerned? Did you not meet with members of the private sector?

Minister: Due to time restrictions, I could not meet with such members. I invited not only top officials but also on-site working staffs to the Embassy. They were members of the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of State, Department of Defense, and those who made up the US equivalent of the emergency headquarters for Japan. I extended my hand first and expressed our appreciation for their assistance.

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