(* 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, May 17, 2011, 3:25 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Cabinet Decision on Policy Promotion Guidelines
  2. Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting
  3. MOFA Reform (Omitted)
  4. Realignment of US Forces in Japan
  5. Killing of Osama bin Laden
  6. Japan-EU EPA

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Cabinet Decision on Policy Promotion Guidelines

Minister Matsumoto: Policy promotion guidelines were decided by the cabinet today. This means that the Cabinet will resume its effort to address the challenges it has been facing since before the Great East Japan Earthquake, in addition to its response to the current crisis. For both post-quake reconstruction open to the international community and new growth strategy, MOFA will continue to steadily deal with diplomatic issues including economic diplomacy. In our understanding, the maintenance of basic policies on comprehensive economic partnerships was reconfirmed at the Cabinet Meeting, and we hope to advance each arrangement steadily in accordance with the policies.

2. Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting

Oshima, Asahi Shimbun: I would like to ask a question about the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting on this weekend. How are the schedule adjustments going including the leaders' visit to the disaster-stricken areas?

Minister: At this stage, we are still making adjustments and have not reached a conclusion. However, I understand that the leaders with the feeling of sympathy are showing their intentions to visit the disaster-stricken areas. MOFA officials in charge are now making last-minute adjustments to the actual schedule and arrangements.

Oshima, Asahi Shimbun: You mentioned "the leaders." Let me confirm if it means the leaders of China and South Korea. If that is the case, will Premier Kan go to the disaster-stricken areas together? I would like to confirm one more thing though it may be trivial. Do you refer to areas in Fukushima as disaster-stricken areas or include other places?

Minister: The adjustments will be finished if what you mentioned is decided.

Inukai, Mainichi Newspapers: I think you gave instructions at today's Meeting of the Political-level Officials that everyone should work jointly to make the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting a success. As Minister, what do you think about the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting and what do you think will make it a success?

Minister: The very important cornerstone of our foreign policy is the relationship between Japan and the United States. At the same time, we think Japan's relationship with China and South Korea as neighboring countries is very important as well. In that sense, the Foreign Ministers' Meeting held after the quake disaster served as a preconference for the Trilateral Summit Meeting. I think the biggest effect expected from the Trilateral Summit Meeting is frank exchanges of opinions among the leaders of Japan, China, and South Korea. In addition, as I said, China and South Korea have been showing their feeling of sympathy and providing Japan with their support. We are in a position to express our appreciation to them. I am hoping that the feeling and actions of the leaders coming from China and South Korea will lead to the progress of the reconstruction and revitalization of the disaster-stricken areas.

3. MOFA Reform (Omitted)

MOFA Reform (Omitted)

4. Realignment of US Forces in Japan

Nishida, Mainichi Newspapers: I think you had a meeting with the People's New Party's General Secretary Shimoji a while ago. General Secretary Shimoji said that he explained to you his opinion to give up the selection of Henoko, saying that the atmosphere in the United States was becoming tough. Let us hear what you think of the fact that an idea of discarding the Japan-US bilateral agreement was expressed by the General Secretary of the People's New Party, one of the ruling parties. I have one more question. General Secretary Shimoji also said that you showed your interest in his explanations including the idea of selecting Kunigami Village. What part of his explanations interested you exactly?

Minister: I remember Mr. Shimoji said that I listened to his explanation seriously, but did he say that I showed my interest? Did he use the expression "interest"? Basically, I listened to what he said.
I have known Mr. Shimoji for a long time. He in the capacity of General Secretary and Chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee and I as Chairman of the House Steering Committee talked over various matters last year. I think I understand his personality and character very well. I understand that he is conducting various activities in the desire of doing something good for Okinawa, where he comes from. Therefore, I listened to his idea and proposal in the sense that I should sincerely listen to him as General Secretary of a ruling party.

Hashimoto, Kyodo News: With reference to your talks with Mr. Shimoji, you mentioned that you sincerely listened to his explanation and idea of selecting Kunigami Village as a substitute relocation area. Then what did you say in response to him?

Minister: I said I sincerely listened to what he said.

Hashimoto, Kyodo News: Didn't you give any other comments?

Minister: I told him that I listened to what he said.

Nishigaki, Jiji Press: Could you tell us how you took what he said and what you think of it after you listened to what he said?

Minister: I sincerely listened to what Mr. Shimoji said. I took what he said as his earnest attitude to solve the issue.
The government went through various processes with a roadmap established in 2006. After that, the government further went through various procedures and reached the agreement including the roadmap in May last year. It is my idea of accepting what was agreed, and steadily make developments at this stage.

5. Killing of Osama bin Laden

Kamide, Freelance: With regard to the killing of bin Laden, the New York Times and other newspapers reported on May 11 that the surviving son of bin Laden is appealing. Everybody says bin Laden was a suspect. So does the United States. He could have been called a suspect provided that he had stood on his trial. In fact, bin Laden and his nonresistant family were killed with no trials.
Article 3 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates peaceful solution, while the United States insists the right of self-defense in accordance with Article 51. However, Article 51 stipulates that the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council. People in other countries, including Japanese people since ordinary people are not armed, feel uncomfortable about it.
If the justice of the United States is accepted, it can be applied to North Korea as well. This might be a threat. There may be various ways of thinking. Is it unnecessary for MOFA to make explanations about the matter or verify the matter including checks on any violation of international laws? As a matter of course, journalism should pursue the truth and object to matters if they are against social justice. What do you think of the matter in this respect? What do you think of confirming or verifying the matter in the future?

Minister: What we can say about the case of Osama bin Laden, the suspect, is in the Prime Minister's statement announced on the matter.
On top of that, we understand that Japan had been provided with necessary information from the United States. In my understanding, all necessary reports have been provided. However, we are not in a position to grasp all the situations, and, therefore, I do not think we are in a position to evaluate the matter.

6. Japan-EU EPA

Watanabe, NHK: I would like to ask a question about Japan's Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU). The EU side uses the term "scoping exercise" for its negotiation with Japan, explaining that the EU is ready to agree on the opening of a pre-consultation. However, it is not a negotiation, and it seems that there is a gap from what Japan is seeking for. How are you going to fill the gap before the Summit?

Minister: We understand that EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht said the Summit will not be the starting point of negotiations but a good opportunity to give a political meaning toward the start of the negotiations and that he talked about necessary procedures.
As a matter of course, we are aiming for starting to negotiate with the EU, and we think that it is necessary to make firm preparations for the negotiations. As you mentioned, we are thinking of hastening discussions with the EU side for necessary arrangements to make the Summit a success.

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