(* 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, June 24, 2011, 5:50 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Acceptance of Medical Assistance Team from the Philippines
    • (2) APEC Workshop on Private Sector Emergency Preparedness in Sendai
  2. Korean Air's Demonstration Flight over Takeshima
  3. Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2)
  4. Japan's Energy Policy
  5. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)
  6. Movements of Chinese Marine Research Vessel ''Nanfeng''

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Acceptance of Medical Assistance Team from the Philippines

Minister Matsumoto: We decided to accept a medical assistance team from the Philippines. The team dispatched by the Government of the Philippines will visit Japan from Tuesday, June 28 to Wednesday, July 13 to provide medical support and psychological care for afflicted people including the Filipino residents who suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake. The team is composed of three doctors from the Philippines. Along with Japanese doctors and clinical psychologists, they will conduct medical support activities for victims in disaster-stricken areas, such as Ofunato and Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture. We greatly appreciate the Government of the Philippines for the assistance offered. This includes the expression of sympathies and willingness to support shown by  H.E. Mr. Benigno S Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines and H.E. Mr. Albert F. Del Rosario, Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

(2) APEC Workshop on Private Sector Emergency Preparedness in Sendai

Minister: We decided to hold the APEC Workshop on Private Sector Emergency Preparedness in Sendai from Monday, August 1 to Wednesday, August 3. This project is being organized jointly by Japan and the United States within the framework of APEC, where approximately 70 experts from 21 APEC member nations and regions will discuss the importance of the disaster preparedness of private businesses. This workshop will be the first international governmental conference that will be held in Sendai after the Great East Japan Earthquake. We hope that the workshop will be a good opportunity to show the world the reconstruction progress of the Tohoku region.

2. Korean Air's Demonstration Flight over Takeshima

Saito, Kyodo News: I have a question about the Takeshima issue. I heard that Korean Air's new Airbus made a demonstration flight over Takeshima on June 16. A MOFA official explained at today's LDP meeting that the Government of Japan made  representations against  this case. According to the paper, the representations were made on June 21. This means that the representations  were made five days after the occurrence of the case. If my memory is correct, I understand that the representations were made by a Counselor. Please tell us if it was an appropriate decision to have made the representations five days after the case and whether the Counselor was an appropriate rank. I would like to know the circumstance of the representations made.

Minister: First, I would like to say it is unacceptable and extremely regrettable to Japan that the aircraft intruded into the sky over Takeshima as Japanese airspace. As you mentioned, we made the representations on June 21, because we had to look into the matter and confirm the facts after we got the information from a media report on June 17. I do not have the record on the level of the representations on hand, but I remember that we made the representations through a diplomatic route in due course. Please understand that the level and route of each representation we make vary with the case.

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to confirm whether the problem in this case is that the aircraft intruded into the sky over Takeshima, which probably we should call Japanese airspace. In addition, I would like to confirm whether the aircraft really intruded into Japanese airspace. Furthermore, please tell us how you are going to work on South Korea to prevent this kind of case from occurring again.

Minister: You may understand that the purpose of our fact-finding is to confirm what you mentioned, and we made the representations after confirming the fact. We have been informing South Korea of the standpoint of Japan, and we would like to continue working on South Korea earnestly so that it will respond to our overture.

Inada, NHK: As you mentioned, the Government of Japan understands that Takeshima is Japan's territory and does not think that there is a territorial dispute over Takeshima. What explanation did South Korea gave with regard to the violation of Japanese airspace?

Minister: I do not think we can tell you all the reaction of South Korea, but I can say that South Korea  basically states its standpoint in response to the representations made by us.

3. Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2)

Kamide, Freelance: I would like to ask a question about the recent joint announcement at the 2+2 meeting that was held recently. The announcement includes the issue about the next generation SM-3 interceptor. In this regard, some media  reported that Wikileaks released some exchanges in December about Japan's abolishment of the Three Principles on Arms Exports in order to construct a strategic system in Europe through Japan.
In fact, I heard various people mention the relaxation of Japan's arms export ban when we attended such conferences. It has been decided since 2006 to allow such arrangements subject to the recognition of the Government of Japan. From the viewpoint of the people of Japan, things seem to be making progress without being informed. Although it is not a very nice way to put it, some people point out that such arrangements are fooling the people of Japan. In this respect, it may be understood if the issue over the SM3 is handled by the LDP administration. Could you tell us your opinion about the Government's handling of the issue after the Democratic Party of Japan took office?
I think this kind of issue should come out after the people discuss the matter. I have a feeling that it came out straight. What do you think of it?

Minister: As you mentioned, it has been already decided to make such arrangements under strict management. As a matter of course, generally speaking, we are not unconditionally taking over the previous policies of the LDP. We have taken over what is necessary with consideration of the relations between countries. We wanted to clarify the contents of strict managements over third countries in this matter, and I think this is in conformity with the basic idea of the Democratic Party seeking for politics in a transparent manner. We are not thinking of fooling the people at all. I wish such expressions do not cause misleading.

Asaka, Freelance: I would like to ask about the 2+2 Meeting. I understand that the Defense Minister talked about the cost of democracy by the change of government with regard to the return to the Henoko plan. Please tell us if you have the same recognition. I think this cost means a significant burden on the residents of Okinawa. I would like to ask you whether the Okinawan people should accept it.

Minister: Do you mean that the time taken so far has become a burden on the Okinawan people?

Asaka, Freelance: I mean the relocation of Air Station outside the prefecture or country was once talked over, and the Okinawan people looked forward to the conclusion of the matter, but after all, the Henoko plan has come up again.

Minister: I understand that the Government has been apologizing to everyone in Okinawa about the sequence of events.

Asaka, Freelance: Do you mean you take the cost of democracy by the regime change as a matter of course?

Minister: I was there when the Defense Minister mentioned that. I do not remember exactly to which question he responded using the expression the cost of democracy by the regime change. With regard to your question about the relocation of Futenma Air Station, we decided to ask the Okinawan people to accept the Henoko plan as a result. In this respect, the Government must apologize to the Okinawan people in this respect. We must apologize for one more thing. They have been continuously shouldering a heavy burden, and we would like to make efforts to alleviate it. I had the impression you are connoting that the situation changed again, it is my understanding that the Government decided to ask the Okinawan people to accept the Henoko plan in May and that the Government is apologizing to the Okinawan people for the sequence of events.

Mori, Nikkei Business: I understand that Secretary of Defense Gates emphasized at the press conference after the 2+2 Meeting the importance of concrete progress next year. Is there any sort of agreement for the concrete progress within the next year?

Minister: In our understanding, we are in a position to continue explaining to everyone in Okinawa in good faith, and we do not think that the matter is not of a nature with a limited deadline. However, you may understand that the standpoint of the Government of Japan has been maintained.

Kamide, Freelance: Mageshima in Kagoshima Prefecture has come out as a new candidate for the place of base relocation. According to press reports, there is a significant objection locally to the idea. In this respect, please tell us how you are going to make arrangements including the persuasion of the local people.

Minister: I believe what you mentioned is the idea of constructing an SDF base and the use of it by under CLP. However, I would rather not comment as far as the construction of the SDF base.

4. Japan's Energy Policy

Daniel, Asian Times: I know only 1% to 2% of Japan's energy policy, but I would like to ask you a question.
Japan's fossil fuel imports may increase if Japan decreases the use of nuclear energy in the future. From what country will Japan import fossil fuel? Is it Australia, Indonesia, or Russia? I would like to ask you of your idea.

Minister: We have been reiterating that we would like to make every effort to use renewable energy much more than ever before. Japan is to increase the proportion of renewal energy to be used, which means the absolute quantity of renewal energy must increase. The Government of Japan has already decided to make such arrangements.
With regard to the total requirement of energy, we have to estimate how much energy will be in total demand with consideration of an increase in demand in various fields while we promote energy saving. We are now considering the proportion of nuclear power to be used and how much fossil fuel will be required to cover the balance.
While making efforts to bring the recent nuclear accident under control, I understand that the verification and investigation of the accident have already started. We cannot say that the verification and investigation are unrelated to our future energy policy that we should discuss from now on.
With consideration of the above, Japan relies petroleum, in particular, on the Middle East and natural gas on other countries, and Japan's petroleum suppliers are concentrated in the Middle East, which need to be diversified and include Indonesia and Australia, as you named, as suppliers in the future. The diversification of fuel suppliers has been our energy policy and this should be further advanced. We have been already importing energy resources from the countries that you mentioned. We have to think comprehensively how much energy resources in total Japan should import and from which countries we should import more energy resources. It is still too early to mention the names of the countries or places now.

5. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

6. Movements of Chinese Marine Research Vessel ''Nanfeng''

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to ask a follow-up question about yesterday's case of the Chinese marine research vessel. I will not mention the details of the case because the case in detail has been already reported. Similar cases occurred Okinotorishima waters, near the Senkaku Islands, and around East China Sea several years ago. I wonder if yesterday's case was the same in nature as those cases in the past. The case this time seems somewhat different in character. I had the impression that the case was a little different from the cases in the past that resulted from the difference in standpoint between Japan and China over maritime interests.
In this regard, please tell us the background of this problem along with the situation where China sent the vessel this time, if you have grasped them. Please also tell us what arrangements Japan should do for the region in the future.

Minister: As you were aware, the vessel seemed to have been conducting marine scientific research in Japan's EEZ and we heard that the vessel was confirmed to have moved out of the EEZ. Marine scientific research in Japan's EEZ is not permitted without Japan's consent. We gave warnings on in the waters, and made representations through a diplomatic channel as well.
In this regard, we are not in a position to state the intention and background of China, and I would like to withhold mentioning this case specifically.
With regard to our future arrangements, Japan's maritime authority performs necessary duties, checks foreign vessels' activities in the EEZ with necessary warnings given over the radio. As a result, the Chinese marine research vessel left the area this time. We would like to continue taking necessary actions in the EEZ.

Back to Index