(* 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, August 2, 2011, 3:29 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Visit to Japan of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
  2. Japan-U.S. Relations
  3. Japan's Nuclear Policy
  4. U.S.-North Korea Talks
  5. LDP Lawmakers' Planned Tour to Utsuryo Island
  6. PKO Dispatch to South Sudan

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Visit to Japan of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Minister Matsumoto: Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, will visit Japan at the invitation of MOFA from Sunday, August 7 to Tuesday, August 9. Secretary-General will pay a courtesy call on the Prime Minister during his stay. Besides, he is scheduled to hold talks with me. Furthermore, Secretary-General will visit Fukushima to exchange views about the disaster-stricken condition as well as post-quake restoration and reconstruction of the area with the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture and other parties concerned. He is also expected to have a conversation with disaster victims.

2. Japan-U.S. Relations

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to ask about your outlook for the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting. In my understanding as of today, August 2, the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting is scheduled to be held in September. It seems to me that not many days have been left. Would you explain the current situation of arrangements for the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting?

Minister: I understand that the two leaders confirmed at the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting in May that the Prime Minister will visit the United States in the first half of September, and I believe that officials concerned are proceeding with necessary preparations.

Saito, Kyodo News: Please tell us whether the Japanese Government presently has the intension to summarize the results of the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting in writing. It is a matter of course that the issue of Prime Minister Kan's resignation will influence not only Japan's diplomatic schedule but also domestic schedules of various matters. I wonder if this issue has a side effect to influence the practical arrangements between Japan and the United States. Would you please address these two points?

Minister: I understand that the two leaders  share the view that  they will issue the vision of the U.S.-Japan alliance in the form of a joint statement, taking the opportunity of Prime Minister's visit to the United States. I think that Japan and the United States have been closely discussing on a regular basis over the cooperation between Japan and the United States and the way the future Japan- U.S. alliance should be in various opportunities including meetings and exchanges regardless of whether they are documented or not. I think it will be the time when the contents of those discussions are summarized in a form. I have not received any report that there are any problems causing a delay in the practical arrangements.
Diplomacy is part of politics. As a matter of course, we cannot say that both countries are free from the influence of domestic political affairs, time constraints, or political backgrounds. I think that even under such a circumstance it is necessary to advance diplomatic affairs by attaching importance to the relations of both countries. I understand that both Japan and the United States understand that point and have been able to proceed with necessary cooperation.

3. Japan's Nuclear Policy

Shiraishi, Yomiuri Shimbun: I am aware that the Prime Minister, Minister of Economy Kaieda, and you had a meeting at the Prime Minister's official residence a while ago. I suppose that you talked about nuclear power plants including nuclear power plant exports. Could you tell us what the topic of the meeting was? Before the meeting, at today's MOFA conference among Minister, State Secretaries, and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers you seemed to have instructed them on the early establishment of nuclear agreements that have not yet passed the Diet. I wonder how MOFA is going to make arrangements for it within the remaining short period of the Diet. Could you answer these two points?

Minister: As for your first question, I understand that discussions over energy and nuclear safety policies have been making progress, based on the nuclear power plant accident. At the same time, discussions over the safety of peaceful use of nuclear energy were developed at the G8 Summit Meeting in May and the Ministerial Meeting of the IAEA in June. In view of the situation, the Japanese Government, including the Prime Minister, has been reiterating Japan's new international cooperation to contribute to safety of nuclear power. I understand that against such a backdrop we had a discussion on how to proceed with the international cooperation.
With reference to the agreements, we must firmly contribute to the safety of nuclear power. At the same time, we should respect the ideas and expectations of our counterparts with regards to cooperation which we have been discussing, taking into account the diplomatic relations with them. We will meet their expectations for Japan such as trust, and will be engaged in efforts to enhance safety through cooperation with counterparts. We have a consensus about this within the government as the Prime Minister stated this basic idea at the Budget Committee and other meetings as well while touching upon diplomatic relationship of mutual trust. In my understanding, today's opportunity of meeting was to discuss Japan's cooperation in the future with consideration of growing discussions over safety in Japan and overseas.
Accordingly, four agreements have been submitted to the Diet. Not all the partner countries for the agreements deal in the direct export of nuclear power plants. On top of that, the original purpose of the agreements is to limit the use of nuclear energy to peaceful purposes. Our wish to have the agreements ratified remains unchanged with consideration of the purposes, and I am sure that there is a consensus on this point within the Japanese Government. The final decision is subject to approval from the Diet. Therefore, we would like to have the understanding of the Diet and have the agreements ratified by the Diet after deliberation.

Kamide, Freelance: There are four agreements in fact, and I presume that there exists various public opinion in the partner countries as nuclear power issues are still pending. Please tell us if those countries felt serious risks, showed negative reactions, or changed their attitudes since the occurrence of the nuclear accident. I have once heard that some countries showed rather positive attitude to nuclear power after the accident. There are various discussions in Japan. What do you think of the present situation including the gap in attitude between Japan and other countries? Please answer these points.

Minister: I would like to refrain from commenting on the recognition of the gap. I have no records on hand now, but in my understanding, even after March, we received remarks from the four countries, with which the agreements have been submitted to the Diet for approval, expressing their wish for early completion of the approval procedures as soon as possible whenever we, as the diplomatic authority, contact them.

Kamide, Freelance: May I understand that there have been no negative reactions, in particular, since the occurrence of the nuclear accident?

Minister: I think it is necessary to clarify to what they have negative reactions, but the agreements are frameworks of international cooperation at least in a sense, that is, as I said, frameworks of the peaceful use and nonproliferation of nuclear energy. As far as the conclusion of agreements is concerned, we have been receiving their requests for our sincere efforts toward the conclusion. I understand that their requests are based on their continued trust in Japan and its technology.

Matsumura, Asahi Shimbun: As you have been talking about nuclear power plant exports with the Prime Minister and Chief Cabinet Secretary, have you confirmed with them that the Government's current policy on nuclear power plant exports will remain unchanged, while I assume that enhancement of safety will be included in the policy, of course?
Furthermore, have you confirmed that there is no necessity for reviews of Japan's New Growth Strategy?

Minister: I have been discussing from the viewpoint of how to advance international cooperation. Taking into account this viewpoint, we will have to consider whether and how we need to change the current stipulation of Japan's policies on the New Growth Strategy and infrastructure exports. As I mentioned earlier, we are now advancing the current cooperation, and, as you mentioned in your question, the counterparts continuously have expectations for Japan's cooperation. Under this circumstance, I think we have a consensus on  the necessity for us to maintain the relationship of mutual trust with them and meet their expectations.

4. U.S.-North Korea Talks

Nishigaki, Jiji Press: U.S. and North Korean officials held talks a while ago. Please tell us what kind of report you received from the United States in this respect and how the Japanese Government is going to take actions from now on.

Minister: As you are probably aware, I understand from the U.S. State Department's announcement that the United States and North Korea confirmed their respective positions and exchanged views in a “constructive and practical” manner this time.
We  appreciate that the North-South Dialogue was held on the 22nd at the Six-Party representative level and that the U.S.-DPRK Dialogue was held this time. At the same time, it is important to realize a dialogue that entails fruitful results. As we have been reiterating, our basic idea that North Korea should indicate their willingness to execute their commitments including denuclearization earnestly by concrete actions remains unchanged. We would like to cooperate with the United States and South Korea, and to communicate smoothly with Russia and China as Six-Party member countries to work on this issue.

5. LDP Lawmakers' Planned Tour to Utsuryo Island

Inada, NHK: LDP members including Lower House lawmaker Shindo returned to Japan last night after they attempted to visit Utsuryo Island, which is close to Takeshima, and their entry was refused by South Korea yesterday. I would like to ask again about South Korea's response this time. Mr. Shindo and other LDP lawmakers are clearly stating that they will visit Utsuryo Island after the current Diet session is over. With consideration of the future, how are you planning to work on the South Korean Government.?

Minister: As already announced, yesterday I already protested to Mr. Shin Gak-su, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Japan, about South Korea's refusal of their entry this time.
I would like to reiterate that the visit of the lawmaker group this time was only for the purpose of inspection and the members intended to visit there under a normal and proper procedure. In light of the friendly and cooperative relations between Japan and South Korea, we had to mention that South Korea's actions this time were deeply regrettable. I requested South Korea's reconsideration yesterday. In addition, in view of the present situation of East Asia, the Japan-ROK bilateral relations are extremely important, and requested South Korea's comprehensive decision.
As for their revisit, in our stand position, South Korea's action this time was deeply regrettable. I am seeing media reports on the their remarks, and we would like to make consideration for the future based on their idea.

6. PKO Dispatch to South Sudan

Mukai, Yomiuri Shimbun: My question is related to the visit of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, to Japan. At the time of a Japanese media interview with the Secretary-General a while ago, he stated his intension of requesting a dispatch of the Japanese Ground Self-defense Forces for PKO operations in South Sudan. It seems that he will make an official request when he holds talks with Prime Minister Kan. Please tell us what the Japanese Government is considering of the PKO operations in South Sudan and your opinion in this matter.

Minister: Japan is to consider about it if we receive an official request. We think that Japan, as a member of the international community, should play proper roles generally and that participating in PKO operations is a great meaningful role. However, an actual dispatch should be determined with comprehensive consideration of factors such as the situation of the dispatch, required capabilities, our setup to dispatch the forces, and the available range of capability of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces as a whole in the context of Japan's defense and international contribution. At the moment, I am not at the stage of stating the possibility or denial of the dispatch to South Sudan.

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