(* 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: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 9:15 a.m.
Place: Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister's Office

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
  2. Questions concerning the North Korean Situation (Launching of “Satellites”)
  3. Questions about the reform of the United Nations Security Council
  4. Questions concerning former Prime Minister Hatoyama’s visit to Iran
  5. Questions concerning the realignment of U.S. Forces Japan

1. Opening Remarks

(1) G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

 Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba: From April 11 to April 12, G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held in Washington DC, the U.S. Having received approval at the Cabinet Meeting, I will travel to the U.S. to attend this meeting.

In this opportunity, I will hold Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Secretary of State Clinton. I will also hold talks with Secretary of Defense Panetta and United States Trade Representative Kirk.

In the past G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meetings, urgent regional situations and international issues were discussed. This year, I believe that we will discuss the issues of North Korea, Iran, the situations in the Middle East and North Africa, and Afghanistan, among other topics.

In particular, as the timing of this meeting will coincide with North Korea’s announced date of launching a missile, just like in the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last weekend when I worked on China and the Republic of Korea concerning this matter, I would like to cooperate with each country at the G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as well to express a strong resolution urging North Korea to exercise self-restraint.

2. Questions concerning the North Korean Situation (Launching of “Satellites”)

Noguchi, Nippon Television: I would like to ask about the situation in North Korea. I believe that you are making certain efforts to have North Korea restrain itself from launching the missile. The announced launch of the missile is imminent, and how do you see the entire situation?

Minister Gemba: Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea have been taking a shared stand  that North Korea should not launch the missile.   It is necessary to make efforts until the very end. I also think that such a stance will actually lead to another phase. Therefore, at this stage I think it is important from a diplomatic view,  to demand self-restraint with the  three countries referred above.

Noguchi, Nippon Television: You mentioned that Japan would lead the discussions on North Korea at the G8 meeting, and the  cooperation of  countries  in demanding self-restraint is necessary.  How do you think Japan can lead the discussion on this matter?

Minister Gemba: I think that Japan will have to lead discussions on the issue of North Korea as well as the issue of Myanmar together with other issues. First and foremost, we need to demand self-restraint to the end, but I think we should share our recognition by discussing about various issues, including the possible situation in  the case a missile referred to as a “satellite” is actually launched.

3. Questions about the reform of the United Nations Security Council

Higashioka, Asahi Shimbun: Considering the response of the Security Council after the launch of the missile, some officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may think that there are limits  on what Japan can do  because it is not a member of the Security Council. We often hear the opinion that Japan needs to become a permanent member. What is your opinion about Japan will become a permanent member?

Minister Gemba: As you mentioned, unfortunately there are actual differences between being a permanent member and not being one. In fact, Japan is not even a non-permanent member.  However Japan is a member of the G8, and needless to say, this is an issue that is directly related to Japan’s own peace and security. Japan must properly lead the discussions, so I will make all-out efforts to this end.

With regard to Japan’s becoming a permanent member, you may know this, there is the framework of the G4, and Japan is discussing on permanent members by forming a voluntary coalition of countries. The reform of the Security Council including the issue of permanent membership requires the approval of two-thirds of the member states at the General Assembly. Because it is quite difficult to earn a two-thirds approval, I have always tried  to develop and propose a realistic plan to have a seat in the Security Council in a flexible manner during the past six months,. Therefore, we have been making substantial efforts among ourselves. 

4. Questions concerning former Prime Minister Hatoyama’s visit to Iran

Hanamura, TV Asahi: Have you talked to former Prime Minister Hatoyama since he came back from his visit to Iran?

Minister Gemba: Yes, I received a phone call from him. I talked with him on the phone on the night he returned. It was before the press conference, and I made a few suggestions to him. Firstly, I told him that we would analyze Iran’s remarks thoroughly. Secondly, I suggested that he should not publicly announce what Iran said about certain things. Thirdly, because of the press reports on IAEA, I suggested that he should explain this matter to the press clearly, including his true intention. I understand that his visit was purely personal and had nothing to do with the government. Also, it was not requested by the Democratic Party of Japan, and he did not visit as a supreme diplomatic adviser. However, since he is a former Prime Minister and  draw public attention, I advised him to consider his position more carefully. These are the suggestions I made to Mr. Hatoyama.

Higashioka, Asahi Shimbun: How did former Prime Minister Hatoyama reply to your suggestions?

Minister Gemba: Although this is not a diplomatic exchange, I do not think I should  make what he said public, as I believe it is not right to extract only a part of what he said.

5. Questions concerning the realignment of U.S. Forces Japan

Ikeda, Kyodo Press: Soon after arriving (in Washington), you will hold a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton. What is your aim of this meeting, as well as a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta,  regarding the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan?

Minister Gemba: I am planning to have a frank discussion on that point. There are a lot of topics to discuss with Secretary of State Clinton. On the other hand, the meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta will focus on the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan, so the detail of the issue will be discussed with him. Previously, we have been discussing the deployment and the number of personnel of military units, but I think we need to have a substantial discussion beyond these topics at a political level.

Matsudo, Ryukyu Shimpo: Are you going to discuss the return of the U.S. Forces facilities with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta as well?

Minister Gemba: Yes, of course I will, but how much of the detail I can tell to the public is a different matter.

Hanamura, TV Asahi:  About the financial burden sharing, do you think you will be able to set out a future direction to a certain degree?

Minister Gemba: Whether we should establish a future direction this time or not is another issue and not relevant. To be frank, I am not intending to determine it this time, but I will certainly discuss the issue.

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