(* 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, April 27, 2012, 11:00 a.m.
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Opening Remarks
    • (1) Visits to Southwest Asia, the Middle East, and Africa
    • (2) Opening of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) in Hiroshima
    • (3) Announcement of the Joint Statement on the Realignment of US Forces in Japan
  2. Joint Statement on the Realignment of US Forces in Japan
  3. Opening of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) in Hiroshima
  4. Questions concerning Japan-Russia Relations
  5. Domestic Politics (Omitted)

1. Opening Remarks

(1) Visits to Southwest Asia, the Middle East, and Africa

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba: I have two things I want to talk about before speaking on the 2+2 Joint Statement. The first is on overseas visits. If the situation allows, from Saturday, April 28 to Monday, May 7, I will visit Nepal, India, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco. In Nepal I will meet with government officials and encourage the advancement of initiatives for the peace process and the establishment of the constitution.
In India, I will take part in the Sixth Japan-India Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue and First Japan-India Ministerial-level Economic Dialogue, working to strengthen our strategic global partnership. In Israel and the Palestinian Territories, I will discuss the Middle East Peace Process. In particular, in Israel, I will discuss policies to further strengthen bilateral relations in light of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, as well as the Iranian nuclear issue. In Palestine I will communicate the thoughts on our assistance to Palestine.
In Jordan and Egypt, where one year has now past since the start of so called “Arab Spring”, I will announce assistance to the efforts of each country and communicate directly to the leaders Japan’s thoughts on the issues of the situation in Syria, the Iranian nuclear issue, the Middle East Peace Process and so on, and other matters that affect the stability of the region. I hope to call on them for resolutions to each issue. In Morocco, I will announce assistance to reform in the country and attend the Fourth TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting. I would like to communicate the stance of Japan in terms of placing emphasis on Africa toward TICAD V.

(2) Opening of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) in Hiroshima

Minister Gemba: Another item is that city of Hiroshima is going to host the 2014 Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI). A meeting of the NPDI was convened in Istanbul on April 26, local time. This was a Director-General-level meeting. A final decision was made there to submit four working documents on behalf of the NPDI to the first Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to be held from April 30.
In addition, the understanding of each Director-General in attendance was earned on the holding of a Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Hiroshima in the spring of 2014. Japan will continue to lead this group, and through realistic and practical proposals, wishes to continue contributing to the discussion for the next NPT Review Process.

(3) Announcement of the Joint Statement on the Realignment of US Forces in Japan

Minister Gemba: With regard to the 2+2 Joint Statement, I would like to explain a number of points. When I visited the United States some time ago I met with Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Panetta, and following coordination between Japan and the United States, there was a Telephone conversation with the Minister of Defense Tanaka and Secretary of Defense Panetta. As a result, we came to conclude today the Joint Statement of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2), I would like to explain its significance.
First, with the agreement this time, I think that more than anything we have overcome the two major problems with the 2006 U.S.-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation. I said this the other day in response to a question. In the Roadmap, the three elements of the relocation of Futenma Air Station, the relocation of US Marine Corps forces from Okinawa to Guam and the return of land are considered together in a single package. As you are well aware, it cannot be denied that there have been many difficulties within Japan in advancing the plan in line with the wishes of Okinawa for the transfer of forces from Futenma Air Station to Henoko.
In addition, in the United States as well, the initial plan for the transfer to Guam has faced extreme difficulties, particularly in Congress. Out of the concern that if things continued as they were we would not be able to achieve the basic goals of the realignment roadmap – which are to maintain deterrence while reducing impact on Okinawa – and that the entire process might end in failure, at the end of last year Secretary of State Clinton and I decided in a meeting that the US and Japanese Government should adjust the plans outlined in the roadmap.
Today’s Joint Statement summarizes the results of that adjustment. Out of the three elements I mentioned earlier, we made the decision to delink the important element of the relocation of Futenma Air Station from the other two elements. In doing so, I think that we have sustained the basic goals of the roadmap.
I have told you about the issues decided in this process a number of times, but from the start I had instructed that there was a need to maintain the point that the number of Marine Corps personnel be the same as it was originally. While we must reduce the number of personnel for the transfer to Guam, we must also avoid a situation in which the Japan-US Alliance cannot maintain its power of deterrence. I have communicated this a number of times during press conferences. On this point, there is the issue of the highly responsive 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). We will maintain the presence of this unit in Okinawa.
The second issue is that the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) Headquarters and other headquarters functions will remain in Okinawa. The significance of this is it strengthens interoperability for increases in the amount of forces present. In other words, it allows us to respond quickly to large-scale, emergency situations.
The third important item to be evaluated is dynamic defense cooperation between Japan and the U.S., which I will talk about later. I believe that this cooperation will maintain and enhance deterrence based on the Japan-U.S. Alliance. One of the most important challenges the Government has been working on is the reduction of the impact on Okinawa. We have so far seen some advancement in the operations of the Status of Forces Agreement, and I believe that we have been able to show some specific prospects for returning the land south of Kadena this time. Let me explain this issue once again. This issue includes the three components I just talked about. By delinking the Futenma issue from the other two important issues, we need to focus on the reduction of the impact on Okinawa first of all. This is what I already stated on February 3.
Furthermore, we have delinked the issue of transferring the Marines to Guam from that of returning land. I have already referred to this several times, but the traditional logic has been that the Marines should be transferred to Guam first so that the related land is consolidated and then returned to Japan. This process takes a long time. All of you know that I have been candid and careful in explaining this logic. What I believe quite significant this time is that we have been able to separate the matter of transferring the Marines to Guam from this discussion.
Separating these two issues will enable us to return some land in the West Futenma area, including Camp Zukeran, in a speedy manner through certain required procedures. In particular, Okinawa strongly demands the return of the Makiminato Service Area. Facilities located there covering almost the entire warehouse area will be able to be returned to Japan after they are transferred to other locations within Okinawa. The same condition will be applied to other high-demand areas, including the Industrial Corridor in Camp Zukeran, Camp Kuwae, and Naha Port. What I mean is that these areas will be able to be returned to Japan before the Marines are transferred to Guam.
Next there is a problem concerning the cost of the realignment of the US forces in Okinawa.  The number of the Marine Corps moving from Okinawa would be 9,000 in total.  We have been coordinated all the possible burdens to the Japanese people as to keep the benefit which can be gained from transferring the Marines from Okinawa, while we can explain the result firmly to the nation.  We reached the conclusion that Japanese financial commitment to the Guam Pact was limited to direct cash contribution.  The direct cash contribution here means that we will not contribute more than 2.8 billion dollar.  Another form of contribution, 3.3 billion dollars investment and loan by JBIC, is no longer required.  The Marine Corps leaving from Okinawa will also move to the places other than Guam, and the total cost of such move would be estimated as 15 billion to 18 billion dollars.  The United States will take all such burdens except from the contribution from Japan referred above.  We once have expressed the will to help financially the development of training areas in Tinian islands, but that cost was decided to be included into the expenditure 2.8 billion that I mentioned.
About the Futenma Air Station, I believe it is the most important to get rid of any risks emerging from the existence of the airfield besides all the matters around the US forces in Japan. There are concerns aired about the delinking that it may lead to an indefinite use of the Air Station. I maintain that indefinite use should never happen. We have to take measures to ensure security till the US Marines’ relocation, while making continuous efforts toward the transfer to Henoko which is an effective solution to the problem.   
I would like to add two points on the new initiatives. I would like to emphasize that this Joint Statement contains several new important elements. In the increasingly unstable security environment of the Asia Pacific that surrounds Japan, I believe that it is extremely important for Japan, the region and the wider Asia Pacific that future Japan-U.S. Alliance promotes effective, efficient and creative cooperation. From such viewpoint, two governments of Japan and U.S. jointly introduced two new initiatives in this Joint Statement.
The first initiative is to take various measures, including strategic use of Japan’s official development assistance (ODA), to further promote safety in the region. This is an attempt of, so to speak, deploying what Ministry of Foreign Affairs is good at, with a creative thinking. Such move can greatly contribute to the safety of sea lanes of communication, for instance.
If this initiative and the U.S. military security strategy/policy which attaches importance to Asia-Pacific region can play complementary roles in relation to each other, substantial synergy effect and efficiency will be expected.
Second, as I mentioned earlier, with regard to the development of training areas of the U.S. Forces in Tinian Island and other places in connection with the relocation of the Marines to Guam, Japan expressed its intention to cooperate with the development on the basis that the Japan Self-Defense Forces will jointly use the sites if appropriate training areas are identified. For example, currently, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force goes to California to conduct landing drills with the U.S. Marines, that is, to conduct joint training. If this training can be conducted in Tinian Island, for example, it will be efficient since it is nearer.
In addition, it will be the III MEF that the Japan Self-Defense Forces conduct joint operations with, when an actual emergency situation occurs in Japan or this region. Or 31 MEU. With III MEF, an effective landing drill will be able to be conducted in Tinian Island. Until now, Japan has not cooperated on the development of training areas of foreign forces. However, we would like to start this kind of cooperation with a creative thinking.
Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements should be further enhanced in the future. While reducing impact on Okinawa such as the removal of risks of Futenma Air Station, we would like to make continuous efforts on considering joint training, joint and shared use of facilities, and Alliance roles, missions, and capabilities (RMC), as mentioned in the Joint Statement.

2. Joint Statement on the Realignment of US Forces in Japan

Ishida, Yomiuri Shimbun: What will be the final number of the Marines transferred from Okinawa to Guam? Also, the last roadmap listed the number of family members accompanying the transferred Marines. This time, the joint document describes that “along with their associated dependents” Could you explain the exact number of family members transferred?

Minister Gemba: The number of Marines moving from Okinawa to Guam is approximately 4,000. As I told you before, in total 5,000 Marines will be stationed in Guam after the realignment. That number includes Marines coming from other locations. We have not yet formally specified the number of family members accompanying them. The last roadmap planned to contribute the certain amount of money from the funds provided by the Japanese government for the housing of the families accompanying the Marines moving to Guam. That is the reason why the number of family members was listed. This time, we have revised our plan not to procure the housing for the family members from the Japanese fund.  That’s why we did not refer to the actual number on the joint document.

Shimada, NHK: The joint document says that the number of Marines remaining in Okinawa follows what is described in the roadmap. Does this mean that the number of Marines staying in Okinawa will be kept to the scale around 10,000?

Minister Gemba: That’s right. About 10,000 Marines will stay in Okinawa.

Shimada, NHK: You did not specify 10,000 in the document. Do you have any specific intention there?

Minister Gemba: We do not have any special intention there. Let me clarify this point once again.
The authorized strength of Marines in Okinawa before this realignment plan will be completed is approximately 19,000 personnel. It used to be 18,000 personnel, which has increased to 19,000 personnel, and this time, we agreed the authorized strength to be approximately 10,000 personnel after the realignment. I once mentioned that the number of personnel was 21,000, which, in fact, was the number on the table of organization, and the authorized strength at that time was also approximately 19,000 personnel. I want to make this point clear on this time occasion.
The authorized strength was 18,000 when the roadmap was agreed. Since the numbers used on the roadmap were the authorized strength, this time we continue to use the authorized strength. The authorized strength, 18,000 when the roadmap was agreed, is now 19,000, and we agreed this time to decrease the authorized strength by 9,000 from that number.

Hanamura, TV Asahi: The fourth item in the joint document refers to the Futemma Replacement Facility and MCAS Futemma. I would like to ask whether the description was changed from the original document. Considering the distribution of this document was delayed because U.S. Senators expressed their opinion. Furthermore, the description “operationally viable, politically feasible, financially responsible, and strategically sound” is a bit hard to understand. Could you elaborate what this means? This may suggest that it is difficult to implement this plan unless approval is obtained from the U.S. Congress or other stakeholders. In particular, some U.S. Congressmen claim that the transfer to Henoko is not realistic. Do you have any concerns in this regard?

Minister Gemba: The description says “operationally viable, politically feasible, financially responsible, and strategically sound.” Aside from the quality of the translation, we have gone through discussions in this direction. With our consistent efforts, we have reconfirmed that the only feasible option is Henoko. This does not mean that we do not further discuss this issue in the future, but both Japanese and U.S. governments have been exploring every possible option. In the end, you see the description “that has been identified to date” to show the conclusion we have reached in the document. We have concluded that we use Henoko as the only and most feasible solution. I am aware that I have to make every possible effort to obtain the understanding of the people in Okinawa to solve this issue at the earliest timing.

Tosa, Asahi Shimbun: As I take a look at this description “the only solution that has been identified to date,” I am able to interpret this to the effect that other options are also possible. Some of the U.S. Senators have a specific plan to integrate facilities in Kadena. In your view, what is the possibility as of now for Japan and the U.S. to be considering the integration of facilities in Kadena as a future option?

Minister Gemba: As I told you before, many Congressmen and Diet members in the U.S. and Japan have been discussing various proposals and options, which is actually a good thing. I welcome the fact that many discussions are held in the Diet and the U.S. Congress. However, let me restate that the Japanese and U.S. governments have considered every possible option by reflecting the four perspectives. The description “operationally viable, politically feasible, financially responsible, and strategically sound” may be hard to understand  when translated into Japanese. What does this mean? As Mr. Tosa well understands, both governments have been  looking for the solution and currently share the view that the only feasible solution is Henoko. This does not mean that we negate the possibility of discussing other options. After going through a series of discussions, both governments have finally reached the conclusion to use Henoko. The two countries share the same view.

Noguchi, Nippon TV: Let me ask about the Japanese financial contribution. You stated that the cost is 2.8 billion US dollars based on the FY2008 US dollar. What do you mean by that? Does that mean that you use the exchange rate applicable in FY2008?

Minister Gemba: Section 1 of the existing Guam Agreement explains this condition in detail, though the agreement itself may be a bit hard to understand. It says that “the Government of Japan shall make cash contributions up to the amount of two billion, eight hundred million United States dollars ($2,800,000,000) (in U.S. Fiscal Year 2008 dollars) to the Government of the United States of America as a part of expenditures for the relocation of approximately 8,000 III MEF personnel and their approximately 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam subject to paragraph 1. of Article 9 of this Agreement.” My statement is the same that the provision of this section. Both countries do not know what will happen to the exchange rate in the future. We can propose a certain amount of funds in Japanese yen, but the value will fluctuate in the future. So we set a certain point of reference based on this agreement. I mean that the agreement may sound somewhat difficult to understand for a casual reader, but if you read it carefully, you will understand.

Noguchi, Nippon TV: You told that you made adjustments so as to have a result reasonable for the Japanese citizens. The 2006 roadmap specified 2.8 billion US dollars as the maximum amount. Since the number of personnel to be transferred to Guam is decreased, some Japanese citizens have hopes for the reduction of this amount. Does the result meet this expectation?

Minister Gemba: I believe that we have actually been able to reduce the cost. As I explained, the 2.8 billion US dollars includes the cost to develop training  areas in Tinian and other locations that will be used by both the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. Forces. In that sense, we have reduced the cost for the relocation. In addition, the financing conditions set for JBIC used to be very favorable to the U.S. side, although I should not explain this issue too much in detail with you. This condition has also been eliminated.
One more thing I can add is that the number of Marines in Okinawa will be reduced by 9,000. As we talk about the cost, we are essentially talking about the reduction of impact on Okinawa, rather than the cost of the Marines moving to Guam. The defense minister made this reply in a Diet session, I believe. This time, we have been able to reduce not 8,000 but as many as 9,000 Marines. The number may not have changed much, though. In sum, this reduction has the same effect in terms of the impact on the people of Okinawa.  With a certain success for the people of Okinawa, we have been able to reduce the financial cost. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I believe that this is quite reasonable for the Japanese citizens.

Suzuki, Jiji Press: Let me ask you about the strategic use of the ODA.  I see a lot of your personal thought in this initiative.  Only one example of provision of patrol boats to coastal states is mentioned here, but there may be items that are difficult to realize in the current ODA Charter.  To what extent do you expect, or what kind of attitude do you have towards, use of ODA beyond the current ODA Charter, for port development, for instance. This shows how serious you are about the strategic use.

Minister Gemba: The question posed by Mr. Suzuki is very essential. As I already said, we can use the ODA to help developing countries along sea lanes with enhancing their maritime security capabilities and with offering patrol vessels, including for anti-piracy measures, for example. As for port development, we are required to study whether it is related to or in line with the ODA Charter. If port development is not viable, we may be able to develop access roads to ports. I believe that we need to study this matter in greater details in the future.

Yokota, Mainichi Shimbun: Let me go back to the issue of cost coverage. This joint document describes that the two countries will finalize the breakdown of the cost. What will be the schedule to finalize it? I also would like to ask you about the need to revise the Guam Agreement and the future schedule to propose the bill to the Diet.

Minister Gemba: The question by Mr. Yokota is about the complete breakdown of the cost. We plan to use the entire remaining year to finalize it. We need the time at least until the coming fall. We have a rough plan as of now, though. So some portions of the cost have been fixed. The details will be briefed to you by our officials. With regard to the amendment of the Guam Agreement, it may be natural to revise it. However there still remains some possibility that we do not have to revise it since the maximum amount stays the same based on this joint statement. We will reach our final conclusion through further consideration.

Tosa, Asahi Shimbun: In relation to the strategic use of the ODA you just have mentioned, the Futenma issue has so far hampered full-scale discussions of Japan-U.S. collaboration including RMC. This joint document includes conditions that make us expect the development of Japan-.U.S. collaboration in the Western Pacific through joint facility usage and joint trainings. I think that separating the Futenma issue will further enhance this sort of efforts between Japan and the U.S. In contrast, I am concerned that domestic discussions have not yet been matured enough, while discussions between Japan and the U.S. going ahead of them. How do you see the situation?

Minister Gemba: Domestically, I believe that the Japanese government currently needs to exert its accountability towards our citizens in relation to defense cooperation and other issues rather than the cost issue. Or it can be the issue how to reach maturity on this matter. Of course, I personally believe that this is something I have to devote myself as a politician. However, security situation sometimes changes much more quickly than our progress. Thus, I am aware that we cannot deal with changing security situations unless both Japan and the U.S. appropriately take their own roles, shoulder their responsibilities, and take concrete actions in a speedy manner to a certain extent. As you have just pointed out, separating the Futenma issue from our current discussion has set the stage so that we can tackle this challenge in a forward-looking manner. This is what I have been waiting for. I am satisfied with the 2+2 joint statement and consider that it has substantial content. Going forward, I will explain this challenge in the Diet and through various other opportunities to form a public opinion within Japan and obtain understanding from various stakeholders so that I can further promote this initiative.
We have several new initiatives we need to work on, including the ODA and the development of training areas. As I explained before, I suppose that there are many people who do not know that we cannot collaborate with the critical 31st MEU as we go through trainings abroad. I believe that this joint document will enhance our interoperability and directly influence our deterrence. So I will explain this challenge to various stakeholders from this viewpoint and I believe that this is the clear path we should take.

Shimada, NHK: My question regards the relocation of the Futenma base. In the time since the consultations commenced, it was decided that land returns south of Kadena will be delinked from the relocation of the Marine Corps, and simultaneously, that land returns south of Kadena, too, will precede the relocation of Futenma. However, it seems no specific date has been presented for the land returns. Do you think that the outcomes of the latest consultations contributed to obtaining the Okinawa peoples’ understanding for the relocation of Futenma? Also, please tell us how you will strive for gaining a better understanding to this matter.

Minister Gemba: I have consistently stated from last year that I would like to build a relationship of trust by achiving results one by one. I have already made various achievements in a way realizing words with deeds, including the improvement of the operation of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. This time, too, we have agreed that the lands will be returned before the relocation of Futenma. People may evaluate this differently. I believe there are those who give a positive assessment of this and those who believe this is insufficient, respectively. Nevertheless, I am convinced that definite progress has been made.
Regarding the timeline, which some people are focused on, my understanding is that the first stage of the land returns which I mentioned a moment ago, including West Futenma for example, will be smoothly carried out once the procedures are complete. Also, the land returns can take place even if there is no progress in the relocation of the Marine Corps to Guam or elsewhere. One of the key aspects of this agreement in particular is the land returns, which are requested by Okinawa Prefecture. During the period of the consultations I have been to see West Futenma for myself, and I realized that by delinking the return of this area, the land return has been significantly facilitated. The problem is not the United States. It is Japan, Japanese coordination and adjustments over the matter. Thus, I do not comment too much on the details but it is true that the cooperation of the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture is required. The determination of the timeline will depend on the efforts of Japan.

Kaku, Xinhua: The Joint Statement says, “In view of the increasingly uncertain security environment in the Asia-Pacific region.” Many people understand this to mean taking precautions against and responses to China’s growing military strength. Can you show what your understanding is?

Minister Gemba: It does not mean that we have in mind any particular country or countries. In view of the current security environment in the entire Asia-Pacific, including the issue of North Korea, I believe it is natural to consider the security environment as becoming indeed uncertain or unpredictable.
China must play the role of a responsible major power. As I have stated repeatedly, my proposal is to conduct dialogue among three countries, Japan, the U.S., and China. Therefore, I do not intend that any particular country or countries are kept in mind.

Hiyane, Okinawa Times: The policy to construct the Futenma Replacement Facility in Henoko remains unchanged, and a moment ago, you said that as the way forward you would like to build a relationship of trust by achieving results one by one. You also referred to the improvements made so far such as the operation of the Status of Forces Agreement and the delinking which was agreed upon this time, among other matters. However, based on the current stance of Okinawa and the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, it does not seem to me that they understand the relocation of Futenma to Henoko in exchange for those achievements. What are your thoughts on this? In addition, you said that the Government would indeed have to ask Henoko (to construct the Futenma Replacement Facility) and that there is no other option but to keep providing explanations, which has been said for a long time. What are the specific steps going forward? It seems the continuous provision of explanations has led to a stalemate. Is the only option to wait for the mayoral election? Can you please elaborate a little further on the way forward?

Minister Gemba: As I stated a moment ago, because the relocation to Henoko was in a stalemate, everything was in a stalemate – until now. Until now, everything was in a stalemate, including the deepening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Neither the lands of Okinawa could be returned, nor progress made on the relocation of the Marine Corps to Guam despite the changing security environment. That is why I, as the person responsible for security and foreign policy, believe that responses to the security environment should be prioritized. Also, while Futenma absolutely cannot be left there, the other expectation of the Okinawan people, the reduction of the impact, should be met. The reduction of the impact means the land returns. Therefore, I have said that we will begin with what we can accomplish, what is feasible. Of course, I am not 100% confident that the transfer to Henoko can be achieved after these accomplishments. However, I believe it is important to advance matters by accumulating results one by one – while at the same time, proper measures must be taken in response to the security environment. It is important to realize these achievements, and exchanges to this effect took place during the consultations. As you have said, I am not 100% confident. However, despite your comment that the build up of these achievements one by one will not make the transfer to Henoko possible, I will continue to make efforts to build up these achievements, among other efforts.

3. Opening of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) in Hiroshima

Okada, Chugoku Shimbun: Regarding the opening of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), which you announced at the beginning, I understand that Hiroshima City has been requesting to invite the NPT Review Conference (rather than NPDI). Let us know why NPDI meeting was decided to be held in Hiroshima and what is a significance of holding it? What is your understanding about the matter?

Minister Gemba: As a matter of fact, as you have just mentioned, it was strongly requested to hold the NPT Review Conference in 2015 in Hiroshima rather than NPDI in the Diet too, and we have studied how it is feasible. However, as you know, the NPT Review Conference has been held in a particular location. It does not mean that we have given up entirely, however, as the only country to have suffered from atomic bombings, and as Japan is taking the initiative in NPDI, I think the meaning and significance of holding NPDI is not small, especially considering what Hiroshima City symbolizes. It is not simply a matter of an alternative choice. I appreciate the proposal and strong intention of Hiroshima City to invite disarmament-related international conferences, and would like to take it very seriously. I have been giving instructions to my secretarial staff based on this view. The decision of holding NPDI is one of our achievements of such efforts.

4. Questions concerning Japan-Russia Relations

Tosa, Asahi Shimbun: The day before yesterday, Mr. Muneo Suzuki, President of New Party DAICHI, visited the prime minister's office and proposed to send Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to Russia as a special envoy. Could you please tell us whether it is true or not? Is the government really intending to send Mr. Mori as a special envoy?

Minister Gemba: To tell the conclusion first, it has not been decided yet. However, I have always thought that I would like to ask some advice from Former Prime Minister Mori, since he has a lot of experience, knowledge and contacts. As I said previously, in support of the government, diplomacy should be conducted in a nonpartisan manner. I would very much like Mr. Mori to play a certain role in this issue. I have met Mr. Mori several times in the recent months, based on this view.

5. Domestic Politics (Omitted)


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