(* 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, July 5, 2011, 5:25 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Visit to Japan by Hon. Tim Groser, Minister of Trade of New Zealand
    • (2) State Recognition to the Republic of South Sudan
  2. Maritime Security
  3. U.S. Military Realignment Issue
  4. Japan-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting
  5. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)
  6. Multiple-entry Tourist Visas for Chinese nationals
  7. Information Disclosure (Omitted)

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Visit to Japan by Hon. Tim Groser, Minister of Trade of New Zealand

Minister Matsumoto: Hon. Tim Groser, Minister of Trade of New Zealand will visit Japan from July 7 to 12 to attend the Third Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum. I am scheduled to hold a meeting with Minister Gloser. I hope that Minister Gloser’s visit will further deepen the relationship between Japan and New Zealand.

(2) State Recognition to the Republic of South Sudan

Minister: At today’s cabinet meeting, the government of Japan decided to give state recognition to the Republic of South Sudan on July 9, when South Sudan is expected to be independent. Following the decision, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Makiko Kikuta will attend the independence ceremony, which will be held on July 9 in Juba, South Sudan.

2. Maritime Security

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to ask a question in relation to maritime security and freedom of navigation at sea. I understand that the Government of Japan is proposing that the issue of sovereignty over the South China Sea should be solved through multilateral dialogues including the countries claiming sovereignty. I would like to know why the Government is seeking for a solution through a multilateral framework and why the Government thinks that the proposed solution through the multilateral framework is rather desirable than bilateral dialogues on a country-to-country basis. I would like to ask you about your understanding to the aim and meaning of the Government's idea.

Minister: Many countries are connected through the ocean, and I believe that you came to have a clear understanding from the supply chain issue after the earthquake disaster that each country's economy is connected, where the ocean plays a major role. Maritime security and freedom of navigation are therefore a concern of the international community, and thus I think it is necessary for the international community to have discussions over the maintenance of the same. In that sense, I think that any tensions or other matters that may adversely affect maritime safety and freedom of navigation should be avoided. In my opinion, the international community should make efforts that can prevent such tensions or matters.

Saito, Kyodo News: I understand that what you said did not point out specific waters, such as the South China Sea or East China Sea, in particular. In fact, do you think that freedom of navigation in the East China Sea and South China Sea is ensured for vessels of all countries now?

Minister: I have not received any reports on problems directly having an adverse affect on navigation now.

3. U.S. Military Realignment Issue

Deguchi, Kyodo News: Today, the Mayor of Nago visited State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yutaka Banno and requested a review of the recent 2+2 agreement. I understand that Governor Nakaima of Okinawa visited you and made a similar request. The feeling of Okinawan people has become clear again after the 2+2 Meeting. What arrangements do you have in mind to obtain Okinawan people's understanding? Are you going to wait until the present Mayor and Governor are replaced in order to achieve the relocation of the facilities as soon as possible, or otherwise how are you going to make arrangements with the present Mayor and Governor?

Minister: Keeping in mind that the elimination of the risk of Futenma, relocation of the facilities, and return of the area have been major challenges, we have had various discussions on the substitute facilities up to now.
Tracing back to the past, it has passed as long as 15 years after the relocation of the facilities and return of the area became a concrete issue. We are thinking that various concrete matters must be always discussed openly. With consideration of the progress of discussions in the past, we should proceed in accordance with the agreement of last May as well as the previous agreements as our basic policies, and we confirmed these basic policies at the 2+2 Meeting of this June. We want to achieve the relocation of the Futenma facilities and return of the area by all means, and we will strive to obtain the understanding of Okinawan people through our continuous dialogue with leaders representing the will of Okinawan people. At the present stage, I would like to make progress in accomplishing them squarely.

Matsudo, Ryukyu Shimpo: You have just said that you would continue your dialogue. However, you did not meet with the Mayor of Nago today. Please tell us the reason you did not respond to his request and whether you intend to meet with him and seek for his understanding to the basic policies in the future.

Minister: In my understanding, the schedule of the Diet and myself did not allow me to meet the Mayor of Nago today. I have never decided not to meet with the Mayor of Nago. However, I have happened to hear in the past that the Mayor of Nago would not be interested in explanations from the Government side. I would like to grasp the accurate picture in responding to him. If he wishes to meet with me and have talks, there is no reason I refuse meeting with him.

4. Japan-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Ogawa, Yomiuri Shimbun: We were briefed that there was a discussion about maritime issues at the Japan-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting yesterday. I would like to hear about it more concretely. Recently, Chinese fishery patrol vessels were sighted navigating at a contiguous zone near Senkaku islands and Chinese navy ships were sighted passing between Okinawa and Miyako Island. Such acts may not infringe international law, but I would like to hear how you explained Japan's standpoint over such acts to China during the Meeting.

Minister: I have been clearly telling Japan's standpoint over its territorial land and waters in the East China Sea. Furthermore, I mentioned that freedom of navigation and maritime safety must be maintained in the ocean. I talked about Japan's cooperation with China in the East China Sea as well, which included the resumption of negotiations on international agreements to be entered over resource development. We used the term "the East China Sea," but I would like to refer to individual exchanges within certain possible limits. I would like to add one thing, however, that there are certain dangerous matters and I requested improvements in them from China.

Oshima, Asahi Shimbun: Deputy Director-General Mitsuru Kitano explained at the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Liberal Democratic Party that you presented a problem in dispatching fishing boats to the waters and that you referred to the problems of fishing boats and aircraft flying close to vessels and requested appropriate arrangements in the context of seeking China’s appropriate actions in the area of maritime safety. May I understand that there were such exchanges?

Minister: I do not remember exactly now, and I will make a check.

[supplementary information]
In Japan-China foreign ministers’ meeting, Foreign Minister Matsumoto requested Foreign Minister Yang, in the context of expressing his strong concern over China’s active behavior in its adjacent sea areas in recent years, appropriate actions concerning China’s behavior in sea areas around Japan, such as the dispatch of a fishery administration ship to the sea area near Senkaku Islands on the previous day of the meeting, and the close-in flight of Chinese governmental aircraft over Japan’s ships this spring.

5. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

6. Multiple-entry Tourist Visas for Chinese nationals

Akiyama, TV Tokyo: I have a question about multiple-entry visas for Chinese tourists, which came into operation on April 1. Please tell us the significance and effect of the system including its effect on Okinawa.

Minister: We have had many discussions with relevant ministries and have overcome the difficulties concerning expansion of visa issues. We decided to issue multiple-entry visas with some conditions, in order to minimize the possibility of any trouble. The decision was made partly because local communities also requested such actions.
In the long run, I would like to make Japan a country open to the world. In my understanding, the people of Japan had not taken tourism as a core industry of Japan until recently. I think that we can expect fairly large economic and employment benefits from tourism if developed earnestly. In that sense, I think it is very important to advance the system that stimulates demand for tourism in China as a neighboring country where a great demand is considered in the future.
We received requests from Okinawan people in a timely manner, and we would like to have the requests utilized and expect a good result from them, which will vitalize Okinawa and lead to the vitalization of all Japan starting from Okinawa.

7. Information Disclosure (Omitted)

Information Disclosure (Omitted)

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