(* 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 Koichiro Gemba

Date: Friday, November 2, 2012, 8:54 a.m.
Place: In the Diet

Main topics:

  1. Main topics:
    • (1) Home invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa
    • (2) Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations
    • (3) Home invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa
    • (4) ASEM and ASEAN summit meetings
    • (5) Home invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa
    • (6) U.S. Presidential Election
    • (7) Home-invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa

1. Main topics:

(1) Home invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa

Otani, NHK: There are reports that a drunken man believed to be a U.S. serviceman broke into a house in Okinawa before dawn this morning while a curfew is imposed on all U.S. military personnel in Japan. Please explain the facts and the response of the Japanese Government and how the Government addresses the situation.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba: We are still confirming the details of this incident but we at least know for sure that there was a home invasion as you described. As a curfew is imposed, I believe this is completely outrageous. That is why we must lodge a strong protest to the U.S. side. Although we have already expressed our protest, I believe we must also clearly state our position through higher-level channels. That is why I have repeatedly stressed the importance of assuring effectiveness. In other words, as the revision of the liberty card program is currently conducted, even if the system is in place, if effectiveness is not assured, it is meaningless. This incident is completely outrageous.

Otani, NHK: When you say Japan’s protest has already been expressed, at what level was it?

Minister Gemba: It was communicated at the working level.

(2) Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations

Otani, NHK: A Director-General-level meeting was held between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) yesterday. With various issues including Takeshima and the ICJ between the two countries, how will the Japanese Government seize this as a trigger to go forward?

Minister Gemba: Since Japan and the ROK have had candid discussions through the Japan-ROK foreign-ministerial meetings, yesterday was simply one of the follow-ups and not a trigger of any kind. I believe the foreign-ministerial meeting we had in New York was a good meeting under these circumstances. There were discussions on various critical issues. I will be briefed on the detailed proceedings later today.

Ando, Hokkaido Shimbun: I understand that there were talks at yesterday’s meeting that both sides would continue Director-General-level meetings but including the interruption of the shuttle diplomacy, the leaders of the two countries have not met for quite some time. Inclusive of multilateral meetings, how do you view the outlook for future summit meetings?

Minister Gemba: There is nothing decided yet. However, the foreign ministers of the two countries will surely have a meeting when we meet at a multilateral meeting. Our relation is like that. However, for more sensitive issues such as the ICJ proceedings which I have been referred to, I believe we must steadily make preparations. In my view, Japan and the ROK are fundamentally partners sharing strategic values. Since various issues including security exists, I believe it is essential to continue building our bilateral relationship, not losing sight of a broad perspective. The foreign ministers of the two countries have already started discussing various issues including sensitive matters, with further opportunities for us to meet further down the road. However, dialogues between the leaders is yet to be developed.

(3) Home invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa

Miyashiro, Ryukyu Shimpo: On the incident in Okinawa, it is said that a U.S. serviceman got drunk at a bar and then broke into a house, injuring a junior high school student. I would like to ask whether you have confirmed the facts and since it is told that the serviceman himself was injured and taken to a hospital inside the U.S. base, how will the Japanese Government deal with this incident, including custody of the suspect?

Minister Gemba: As I mentioned earlier, we are still confirming the details and what I have been briefed at this point is that he hit a junior high school student and that the serviceman himself was hurt. In any case, the fact that this incident happened in the middle of the night despite the imposed curfew, is in itself outrageous and if he actually did hit a citizen, I believe it is absolutely unacceptable.

(4) ASEM and ASEAN summit meetings

Nikaido, Asahi Shimbun: There will be occasions for summit meetings such as ASEM and also ASEAN this month. As the Japan-China relations remain tense, what message do you think is best for Prime Minister Noda to deliver at the ASEM and ASEAN summit meetings?

Minister Gemba: As I mentioned earlier, I believe each leader will have about three opportunities to make a statement, including a preregistered one and opening remarks. Opening remarks can set the tone for a meeting. As I mentioned earlier, ASEM will address the most significant challenge, a challenge to the entire Europe and Asia, which are the economic and financial issues. There are global issues and also there are regional issues. Respectively, although I will be repeating myself, firstly on the European debt crisis, the contributions which Japan has made thus far is significant. To cite one case, the EFSF bonds; although the exact amount cannot be disclosed but the Japanese government has purchased a considerable amount. On top of that, our contribution to the IMF; the Government of Japan set its own line of credit and has also made a sizeable contribution.

Furthermore, at the same time, Japan’s contribution is not limited to the areas I just mentioned. The global contributions we have made during those 67 years since the end of World War II and our footsteps as a nation of peace are a point I hope the Prime Minister will clearly state at this meeting. I also expect Prime Minister Noda to proudly state the responsibilities we will carry out and the role we will play as one of the major countries in establishing order in the Asia-Pacific region or the international community, and that we will also contribute to the rule-makings thereof.

(5) Home invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa

Matsumoto, Jiji Press: You mentioned earlier that you will lodge a protest to the U.S. through high-level channels…

Minister Gemba: The specific level will be further considered.

(6) U.S. Presidential Election

Ikeda, Kyodo News: It will be Election Day early next week. It has been reported that the race is very close, but if the Republican Party takes office, what impact do you believe it will have on U.S.’s Japan policy?

Minister Gemba: I and also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are making our analysis. Naturally, we are looking into what will happen in the election, the election results, what will happen when either candidate wins, and how administration personnel will be developed. However, I do not think it is appropriate for me to make any comments at this point.

The recent visit by a delegation of U.S. experts, including those close to the Republican Party and those close to the Democratic Party, which confirmed that whichever party comes into power or whatever the situation may be in Japan, the significance of Japan-U.S. relations or the Japan-U.S. alliance will remain unchanged, may be in a sense one of the movements taking into account all things to come. I do not believe their visit was requested by the U.S. government but it is in fact a kind of second-track diplomacy. Japan-U.S. relations are multi-layered and I believe our present relations are quite robust.

(7) Home-invasion incident by a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa

Miyashiro, Ryukyu Shimpo: The U.S. Serviceman is currently in the custody of U.S. Forces. Will the Japanese Government request his extradition?

Minister Gemba: I must firstly confirm the details.

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