(* 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 29, 2012, 10:53 a.m.
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Main topics:

  1. Questions concerning the conclusion of a classified information protection agreement
  2. Questions concerning Takeshima Island issue
  3. Questions concerning domestic political affairs (omitted)
  4. Questions concerning the dispatch of Ospreys to Okinawa
  5. Questions concerning situation in Syria

1. Questions concerning the conclusion of a classified information protection agreement

Shimada, NHK: The Japan-ROK General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is scheduled to be concluded this afternoon. Could you tell us the significance of concluding this agreement?

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba: As you have mentioned, we are making final adjustments to carry out the signing ceremony for the GSOMIA this afternoon. Taking the current security environment in East Asia into consideration, I think it would be very significant if Japan and the Republic of Korea can establish a fundamental basis for sharing confidential information. Moreover, the conclusion of this agreement means we can share information among Japan, the Republic of Korea, and our ally, the United States. Therefore, I think this is a historic step that contributes to the security of Japan.

2. Questions concerning Takeshima Island issue

Shimada, NHK: I have heard that some lawmakers from the ruling party of ROK landed on Takeshima Island yesterday. How did the Government of Japan respond to their action? And what kind of policy the Government of Japan will take on this issue, taking into consideration the fact that such attempts have been conducted repeatedly in Takeshima Island?

Minister Gemba: After we received such information, we made a demarshé to the Government of ROK before the visit. After informed that they had visited Takeshima Island, we lodged a protest against that action. Needless to say, such acts are unacceptable from Japanese point of view.  How should this issue be coped with? I have mentioned this issue in one of my speeches for the first time in several decades, and have taken some other measures as well. We will consider thoroughly how we should deal with this issue in the future.

3. Questions concerning domestic political affairs (omitted)

4. Questions concerning the dispatch of Ospreys to Okinawa

Yokota, Mainichi Shimbun: Regarding the issue of Ospreys, notification to the receiving state is expected to be made today. However, the people of Okinawa have been strongly opposed to the dispatch of Ospreys itself. Could you tell us whether you have made any specific request to the U.S. side in the negotiations between Japan and the United States in order to obtain the consent of the people of Okinawa and how you will explain the dispatch to them from now on?

Minister Gemba: In terms of the dispatch of Ospreys, Defense Minister Morimoto is willing to explain this issue by himself, probably, this afternoon, and therefore I think I should not comment on this issue.

However, as I have mentioned previously, there are obligations stipulated in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and requirements to maintain deterrence. At the same time, there exist security concerns among the people in the local community. Under such conditions, we have discussed with the U.S. side about an appropriate response in order to address such concerns.

One of the results of such efforts will be released from Minister Morimoto today, but he may not be able to open all of our exchanges to the public. However, we have proactively discussed various issues with the U.S. I think it is important to disclose as much information as we can and to offer explanations to the people of the relevant communities in a sincere manner.

I have been informed that Minister Morimoto will take charge that, and therefore, I will answer the question after he explains on this issue.

5. Questions concerning situation in Syria

Yoshioka, NHK: At the cabinet meeting today, it was decided that Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Syrian Arab Republic H.E. Toshiro Suzuki will be relieved of his duty. Because he is the first Japanese diplomat to be designated “persona non grata (PNG)” since the end of the World War II, could you tell us your opinion on the decision and Japan’s future efforts on the issue of Syria?

Minister Gemba: I expect former Ambassador Suzuki to fulfill important duties in the future as well.

In terms of the PNG, I understand that similar measures were taken in relation to other countries that have imposed sanctions (against Syria).  I think Syria is in a very serious situation. Therefore, as you may know, the Government of Japan has responded mainly by providing humanitarian aid.

The Government of Japan has worked to persuade the Government of Syria to accept proposals by Special Envoy for Syria Dr. Kofi Annan. We are currently considering what more we can do. For this purpose, first of all, the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council must be united. I think Russia needs to play a significant role. In that sense, I think we need to particularly consider the way the U.N. Security Council would be united, or what we can do to unite it.


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