(* 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, August 5, 2011, 3:00 p.m.
Place: MOFA Press Conference Room

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Visit to Japan by the Honorable, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., Vice-President of the United States of America
  2. Japan's Nuclear Cooperation Policy
  3. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)
  4. US-North Korea Consultations
  5. Mindanao Peace Process in the Philippines
  6. Structural Reform for Improving the Effectiveness of Defense Capabilities
  7. Japan- North Korea Meetings
  8. Visit to Japan by the Honorable, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., Vice-President of the United States of America

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Visit to Japan by the Honorable, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., Vice-President of the United States of America

Minister Matsumoto: Thank you for waiting. As the Chief Cabinet Secretary announced at his press conference in the morning, the Honorable, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., Vice-President of the United States of America will visit Japan from August 22 to August 24 as a working visit guest.

2. Japan's Nuclear Cooperation Policy

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like ask a question about Japan's policy related to the export of nuclear power plants. I understand that you have been discussing the export of nuclear power plants with ministers concerned. I would like to know the present progress of the discussion. Meanwhile, there is a media report that the Japanese Government will announce a consolidated view. Would you tell us the present status of the Kan Cabinet's policies on the export of nuclear power plants?

Minister: I would say that it is a policy on nuclear cooperation rather than the export of nuclear power plants. Diet member Itsunori Onodera submitted a written question  on the Kan Cabinet's attitude to the conclusion of nuclear agreements. In response to this, while the Prime Minister and ministers concerned have replied to relevant questions in Diet deliberations, we had to give a reply in writing this time. Therefore, we discussed to prepare a proper answer  after thoroughly organizing our ideas. We made a Cabinet decision on this matter this morning and returned the written answer to the House of Representatives.
I believe that some of you have a summary of this answer at hand, because the contents  have been already announced. First, we want to raise the safety of nuclear power generation to the world's top level, and we have already started fundamental reforms of safety rules and administrative regulations.
Primarily, each country concerned is responsible for securing the safety of nuclear power plants within the country, and at present, there are countries expressing their continuous high esteem  for Japan's nuclear technology.
In view of the situation, firstly, if such countries hope to utilize Japan's nuclear technology, we would like to provide them with Japan's nuclear energy, ensuring the world's top level of safety.
Secondly, we would like to formulate Japan's idea on how international nuclear cooperation should be conducted, as soon as possible,  considering the situation of the investigation of the accident and the discussion on reinforcement of nuclear safety at the IAEA and other organizations concerned.
Thirdly, keeping what I said in mind, we would like to advance  nuclear cooperation with relevant countries, taking notes of the past diplomatic negotiations and trust between countries. The answer mainly consists of these three points.

Saito, Kyodo News: With regard to  nuclear cooperation agreement as you mentioned thirdly, I understand that you negotiated with Turkey, Brazil, and other countries concerned. May I understand that the Kan Administration will continue working positively on the accomplishment of the negotiations?

Minister: First of all, the agreements that we are going to submit to the Diet are those signed with Jordan, Russia, South Korea, and Vietnam. As you are aware, the agreements include items that are not directly related to the export of nuclear power plants. Nuclear cooperation is a form of international cooperation, after all. However, as I have reiterated here, the main purposes of the framework created by these agreements are the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the nonproliferation of nuclear arms. I do not think that the promotion of the agreements and the export of nuclear power plants are synonymous. We discussed the question with ministers concerned and concluded to make the response because we must consider various matters in a wider framework of nuclear cooperation.
With regard to the cases that we have had a series of negotiations, we will think of the desires of the partner countries and the past course of negotiations. As a matter of course, if the respective country continues to seek Japanese cooperation, it relates to the matter of trust and we must proceed minding not to lose such trust. We discussed this matter with these points in mind.  In my understanding, the countries that I mentioned continue to expect Japan's nuclear technology and a variety of facilities and installations based on the technology. Therefore, we must respond to their expectations and will continue negotiating with them, while thoroughly deliberating  Japan's policy on international cooperation.

Saito, Kyodo News: I understand from your explanation that Japan will promote the negotiations with the countries that expect Japan's nuclear technology. On the other hand, there are nations that have not understood Japan's nuclear technology or have not realized that Japan's nuclear technology is of very high quality. Will Japan make a great change from now on in its activities to attract such nations, make a business expansion, and emphasize with might and main that Japan's nuclear technology under the cooperation of the public and private sectors?

Minister: Those points are exactly what we are going to deal with in our deliberations on nuclear cooperation policy. Frankly speaking, as a matter of reality, many stakeholders concerned with nuclear power have been putting a considerable amount of manpower and resources into the investigation of the nuclear accident and safety countermeasures since March 11. I do not think that the parties concerned are ready to organize a large team to win new orders at this stage.
Meanwhile, I have come into contact with many countries during this period. As far as I know, there are no countries that are interested in the peaceful use of nuclear energy but indifferent to Japan's nuclear technology. As we are at the forefront, I realize that many countries have been  paying attention to Japan's time-proven nuclear technology.

3. Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

Domestic Political Situation (Omitted)

4. US-North Korea Consultations

Shiraishi, Yomiuri Shimbun: I understand that US-North Korea meetings were held last week. What report did you receive on the results of the meetings? I think Japan should cooperate with the United States and South Korea from now on with consideration of such development. It may be necessary to dispatch senior MOFA officials to obtain further information. What else do you think is necessary in the future?

Minister: I am aware that the State Department announced that the meetings were constructive and business-like. We would like to welcome that the North-South and US-North Korea meetings were held.
I have been reiterating since my inauguration that Japan does not refuse having dialogue with North Korea. It is very important for diplomacy to solve issues through dialogue, and I have been saying that we would like to welcome the dialogue held.
As for the contents of the meetings, we were provided with a variety of information from stakeholders including those who attended the meetings under the close relationship between Japan, the United States, and South Korea. To Japan, however, the meetings were exchanges made by third countries. Therefore, please understand that we are not in a position to explain the meetings individually.
As for your question about our dispatch of senior MOFA officials for information exchanges, we do not have a concrete official trip plan in our hands. We have dispatched MOFA officials to and received foreign officials from countries concerned with various issues including the North Korean issues appropriately in a timely manner up to now as a routine, so to speak. In that sense, we may have to dispatch MOFA officials to those countries or have foreign officials visit Japan by taking opportunities. Presently, however, I have not received any reports on concrete meeting plans or schedules.

5. Mindanao Peace Process in the Philippines

Tajima, Nihon Keizai Shimbun: Some media reported that President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines visited Japan yesterday and held talks with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Haj Murad Ibrahim. First, I would like to check this fact. Second, I would like to know how the talks were set if the talks were held in Japan.

Minister: I understand that the Philippine Government will formally announce this matter soon, for which we would like to wait before we give the Japanese Government's comment on this matter.

6. Structural Reform for Improving the Effectiveness of Defense Capabilities

Matsudo, Ryukyu Shimpo: Today, the Ministry of Defense announced structural reforms, in which the Ministry holds up military reinforcement in the southwestern region. Some pointed out that the reforms were made with consideration of China's military expansion and conflict. How does MOFA analyzes the possibility of China's penetration into offshore islands of Japan? Furthermore, does MOFA have an intention to have dialogue with China in a framework of cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, similar to the 2+2 Meeting?

Minister: I think you should check the details of defense-related matters with the Ministry of Defense. As far as I understand, the Ministry of Defense's defense framework for Japan does not have particular countries in mind. I believe that the Basic Defense Program and Defense Plan  refers to the southwestern region. In my understanding, the reforms will be made for the reorganization of Japan's defense structure with consideration of the overall balance of the structure. In that sense, I do not think it is appropriate to carry on in this context, but you ask about China. We think it very important to have multilayered diplomatic channels. In that sense, we have Japan-China Foreign Ministerial meetings and exchange leaders and Defense Ministers. We will connect them comprehensively to build reliable relations. As you know, we have been proposing the construction of a framework or mechanism that leads to Japan's confidence building in the ocean as a part of multilayered channel. I understand that China is making a similar structure. We would like to make efforts toward a channel expansion in such a way.
We have not yet discussed when and how to have an appropriate meeting similar to the 2+2 Meeting, and we are not in the stage to answer your question. We do not make a negative comment on having discussions with China through various channels in a broad sense at official, working and political levels. In fact, we think that we should certainly do them.

7. Japan- North Korea Meetings

Yoshioka, NHK: I have a question with regard to the US-North Korea meetings. As the South-North and US- North Korea meetings are making progress, I wonder if the Japanese Government intends to seek for Japan- North Korea meetings or you gave such instructions in the Ministry. If your answer is yes, please tell us the best timing of the Japan- North Korea meetings in connection with the resumption of the Six-party Talks. Please tell us if the Consultations should be held before or after the Six-party Talks or simultaneously with the Six-party Talks.

Minister: As I have said here often, having talks with or request talks from the DPRK to start the Japan- North Korea meetings for their own sake are different from what I think. I think the most important thing is what substantive dialogue we can have. Therefore, the point is what form of dialogue is possible and what timing is the best. Therefore, I have not given any instructions on doing anything to have dialogue.

8. Visit to Japan by the Honorable, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., Vice-President of the United States of America

Onuki, Mainichi Newspapers: I have a question about US Vice-President Biden's visit to Japan. We cannot foresee the political situation of Japan and the resignation of the Prime Minister at the time he visits Japan. In the usual case, the Prime Minister's visit that will be expected early in September should be discussed. Therefore, how are you going to talk him about the Prime Minister's visit to the United States and in what attitude are you going to attend the meeting?

Minister: We have to make schedule adjustments from now on, but I believe that the Prime Minister's meeting with him has been decided. You asked me about the political situation, but I do not give much thought to it. All I have to do is to get information on the political situation from newspaper and TV reports.
The top leaders of Japan and the United States decided in May the Prime Minister's visit to the United States, and I understand that officials have been doing practical follow-up work since then.

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