(* 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, June 1, 2012, 9:31 a.m.
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Questions concerning allegedly illegal activities by a First Secretary from the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo
- Questions concerning the Realignment of US Forces in Japan (Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Elections)
- Questions concerning Japan-ROK Relations (so-called comfort women issue)
- Questions concerning Japan-EU EPA negotiations
- Additional questions concerning the Realignment of US Forces in Japan (Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Elections)
- Comment on intelligence
1. Questions concerning allegedly illegal activities by a First Secretary from the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo
Kikuchi, Nippon Television: I have questions about the member of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo suspected of being a spy. It looks like documents on the case have been sent to the prosecutors. Have you received any information on this? Also, will you again be requesting a response from the Chinese Government?
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba: I have received reports that there was a violation of the Alien Registration Act, and False Entries in the Original of Notarized Deeds and the uttering of the document, and these documents have been sent to the prosecution. At the current moment in time, I heard that it has not yet been verified whether this touches upon any other penal offenses outside of the matter regarding the delivery of documents.
Kikuchi, Nippon Television: Will you take this to the Chinese Government and again make some kind of request on the matter?
Minister Gemba: On that, we have so far taken necessary actions in relation to the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo in response to the requests from the relevant ministries and agencies. However, the fact that the person in question returned to China is something about which we are lodging a protest with the Chinese side. We are asking that going forward they correctly undertake that which is proper for them to do. In doing this, since we are talking about the Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests, I hope to continue to further deepen our relationship with China.
Kikuchi, Nippon Television: I would like to again ask for your opinion on the relationship between Japan and China, as well as the effect that this case has had on it.
Minister Gemba: At the current moment in time, it is just as I said earlier. I am repeating myself, but we have to straighten out where it is due. However, at the same time, I think that this is not the sort of talk that we should discourage the advancement of friendly and enhanced relations. Put generally, supposing that there was a breach of the law and that illegal intelligence activities that would be something that we would have to be on alert, and I have reminded my staff of this.
Shimada, NHK: When you said that you have lodged a protest, do you mean that it was a protest against the fact of the Embassy's granting permission for him to return to China despite the situation?
Minister Gemba: Yes. And we are going to respond appropriately to any requests from relevant ministries and agencies.
2. Questions concerning the Realignment of US Forces in Japan (Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Elections)
Tamura, Yomiuri Shimbun: Today election results for the Okinawa Prefectural assembly will be announced. I would like to ask you about Futenma. All political parties in the election are against the relocation to Henoko. I would like to first ask what your opinion of this situation is.
Minister Gemba: As I have said up until this point, I believe that the situation is developing steadily toward one in which we can maintain deterrence while mitigating the impact on Okinawa. At the same time, I believe that the U.S.-Japan Alliance has been strengthened.
I am not saying that we are neglecting the mitigation of the impact on the people of Okinawa. I have been saying this since the beginning, but while working to ensure that we will achieve results such as the return of the land south of Kadena and so forth at an early date, and while improving the operability of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), we have seen the buildup of achievements step by step. We will continue to work on these. I will make efforts toward earning the understanding of the people in some way or another.
3. Questions concerning Japan-ROK Relations (so-called comfort women issue)
Sugimoto, Sankei Shimbun: I have two questions about the comfort women issue. Media in the Republic of Korea is saying that the Government of Japan has submitted three proposals to the Government of the Republic of Korea. They are saying that the first one suggests that the Government of Japan offer direct apologies to former comfort women. The second one is that Prime Minister Noda apologizes to the President of the Republic of Korea. The third one is that the Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Korea apologizes to the women. I have seen this kind of reporting, but is there any truth to the matter? And is it true that discussion on any one of these proposals was made in the Government? I would like to ask those two questions.
Minister Gemba: I also saw such reports this morning. There is basically no truth to the matter.
Sugimoto, Sankei Shimbun: Is it correct to understand that there is no truth to the suggestion that this was discussed?
Minister Gemba: First of all, no such thing has happened. I think it is only natural that many ideas be examined when thinking about issues, but I can say that there is no truth to anything you just said.
4. Questions concerning Japan-EU EPA negotiations
Ikegawa, NHK: The scoping process for the Japan-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has been completed. I have heard that Italy, France and other countries are expressing disapproval toward the EPA saying it will take some time for this to be fully understood and for negotiations to begin. Could you please tell us your current thoughts on the timing for when negotiations will begin?
Minister Gemba: There are still a few issues that need to be dealt with. There are also issues about which Japan is making requests of the EU. The EU is making requests with regard to Government procurement on our side. However, I think that the current situation is that we have been getting close to it considerably.
That is why I think that we are approaching a time in which we should seek official power to negotiate – what is called a mandate. However, we are not at this stage yet to say when. All that said, I do want to establish a Japan-EU EPA as soon as possible.
5. Additional questions concerning the Realignment of US Forces in Japan (Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Elections)
Tamura, Yomiuri Shimbun: The (Okinawa) Prefectural Chapters of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has made immediate closure of Air Station Futenma an electoral commitment. Don’t you think this situation problematic? I would like to ask your views on that.
Minister Gemba: This was recently carefully explained to the prefectural chapters of the DPJ, and we will continue to offer thorough explanations about it in the future.
My frank opinion is that we have closed the distance on this issue than before, even compared to when I took up the position of Minister for Foreign Affairs.
6. Comment on intelligence
Minister Gemba: At my inaugural press conference, I was asked about intelligence. This is something I remember very well; I remember that there was talk about information leaks. I have been asked about this and talked about it again. In an article today many points were debated about the spy prevention law. I think that there is a need for wide-ranging discussion on these issues including what the spy prevention law is and what exact legal system is in place for information security. I believe that we should have wide-ranging and thorough debate on the issues of the leaking of information in terms of confidentiality problems as well as the acquisition of information through unlawful activities.
Back to Index