(* 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 Fumio Kishida
Date: Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 11:08 a.m.
Place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ meeting
- Deployment of Osprey in Okinawa
- Japan's foreign policy for ASEAN
- Deployment of the Osprey to Okinawa and the right to collective self-defense
- Alleged contacts between a secretary of Mr. Koichiro Gemba, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, and a former secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Japan
1. Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ meeting
Nikaido, Asahi Shimbun: I would like to ask you about your visit to the United States. What kind of discussion do you expect for the realization of the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States during the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ meeting? I think you will talk about this issue in the meeting, but could you let us know if you plan to apply for Henoko landfill before the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States?
Minister Kishida: First of all, in the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I would like to exchange frank opinions to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, which is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy. I want to clearly show an enhanced bond of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. I will refrain from telling you specifically what we will talk about in the meeting at this stage. As I have just come back from my trip to ASEAN countries and Australia, I would like to make thorough preparations for the meeting from now. It goes without saying that I would like to exchange frank opinions on bilateral issues between Japan and the United States including security and economy issues as well as situations in the Asia-Pacific region. That is my stance toward the meeting.
On your second question about whether or not we will apply for landfill before the summit meeting, we should discuss that with relevant ministries first. Currently, we are still discussing the issue. Therefore, nothing has been determined yet, including its timing or schedule. That’s the current situation.
2. Deployment of Osprey in Okinawa
Toiyama, Ryukyu Shimpo: I would like to ask you about the deployment of the CV-22 Osprey of the U.S. Air Force to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. The Secretary of the U.S. Air Force made it clear that the CV-22 will be deployed in Japan including Okinawa. The people of Okinawa have considerable concerns on this issue. I would like to ask for your thoughts concerning the deployment in Okinawa and also ask if the Government of Japan has confirmed the deployment as being factual. In case if you have not confirmed that yet, do you plan to confirm it with the U.S. whether they have such a plan of deployment?
Minister Kishida: First of all, on the CV-22 Osprey, the U.S. has not notified us about the deployment of the aircraft yet. The Government of Japan has not confirmed such deployment. In terms of confirmation, I am aware that the U.S. side released a statement after the press conference by the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force that said that no decision had been made regarding the deployment of the CV-22 in the Asia-Pacific region including Japan. Under the circumstances, we are in a position to think about how we will receive the U.S. statement and respond to it in the future.
Toiyama, Ryukyu Shimpo: You said no decision has been made. Do you mean the issue is under consideration now?
Minister Kishida: No decision has been made. And a statement was released. I recognize that as the current response from the United States.
Toiyama, Ryukyu Shimpo: Doesn’t that mean that they are currently discussing the deployment to the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan?
Minister Kishida: I think the message from the U.S. side to us is that a statement was released and that said such a decision has not been made yet.
3. Japan's foreign policy for ASEAN
Matsumoto, Jiji Press: Following your recent visit to ASEAN countries, what kind of approach is the Abe administration going to take to ASEAN countries? In addition, as you mentioned, the international environment in Asia and the ASEAN region has been changing and is now very different from what it used to be. Please share with us your views on Japan’s approach and what differences there will be compared to Japan's foreign policy in the past.
Minister Kishida: The strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region has been changing dramatically. Given the circumstances, Japan must strive to play a responsible role which secures prosperity and stability in the region. In order to achieve this, we need to further strengthen cooperative relations with ASEAN countries. On the other hand, I recognize the ASEAN region as the growth center of the 21st century spurring global economic growth. In consideration of these facts, I think that the importance of partnership with ASEAN countries will increase further.
2013 is a significant year that marks the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. In this important year, a Japan-ASEAN summit meeting is scheduled to be held in December. Taking such opportunities, we need to continue further strengthening cooperation with ASEAN countries and contribute to the prosperity and stability of the region. This is the diplomatic stance that I think Japan should place emphasis on. I will promote efforts to deepen cooperation toward such a direction.
Azumi, Freelance: In the Japan-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting held last year, an agreement on the principles of a regional code of conduct in the South China Sea was postponed. This was due to China’s opposition. Some countries, especially the Philippines, have something like territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. Have you received any requests for cooperation from the Philippine side, for example, asking Japan to cooperate to facilitate the preparation of a code of conduct?
Minister Kishida: Each ASEAN country has different issues with China in the South China Sea. During this visit, I think I was able to share recognitions with each country that it is important to have a common understanding that such situation is of international concern as it is directly linked to the peace and stability of the region, and that relevant international laws must be complied with. Under such circumstances, regarding the question about the Philippines you just asked, Japan has been cooperating with developing countries which are near sea lanes on maritime security for a number of years. We will continue to provide comprehensive support for the Philippines in order to improve the capacity of their coast guard. I have explained such intentions to them. I would like to promote efforts to deepen cooperation with the Philippines on various issues in the future. The Philippine side also made a strong request for us to cooperate with them on such aspects. This is my current view.
4. Deployment of the Osprey to Okinawa and the right to collective self-defense
Yoshida, Nishinippon Shimbun: I understand that the Abe administration intends to build a relationship of trust with Okinawa; however, according to what you mentioned earlier, I have the impression that beyond releasing the statement no further action would be taken. At the current stage, it is not clear whether the U.S. side is considering deployment or not. Isn’t the Government of Japan considering telling the U.S. Government that the Japanese side does not want the deployment of the CV-22 Osprey to Okinawa or things like that? This is my first question.
My other question is, I understand that the Abe cabinet is going to review discussion on the right to collective self-defense – I would like to ask you whether you think the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is unilateral or bilateral.
Minister Kishida: First of all, regarding the Osprey issue, needless to say, Japan and the U.S. will continue to have a wide range of discussions on the posture of military forces in the Asia-Pacific region. You questioned whether any further action would be taken on this issue. Naturally, we will continue wide-ranging discussion as well as necessary consultations.
Regarding the issue of the right to collective self-defense, it has been discussed in various ways and various actions have been taken over our long history. Your question was about the nature of the treaty; however, since the future direction will be discussed based on reality, I think it is important to discuss what we are going to actually do rather than evaluating the current situation. I would like to promote discussions on the ideal state for the future, seeking directions from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Yoshida, Nishinippon Shimbun: In other words, am I correct in thinking that the issue of the right to collective self-defense is the next stage of discussion, regardless of whether the treaty is unilateral or bilateral?
Minister Kishida: I think it depends on where you set the standard for defining unilateral or bilateral. I think we need to fully understand the reality and then discuss what needs to be done in the future.
5. Alleged contacts between a secretary of Mr. Koichiro Gemba, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, and a former secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Japan
Yamada, Yomiuri Shimbun: There were some news reports last weekend that a secretary of Mr. Koichiro Gemba, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, contacted a Chinese national who is suspected of being a spy by police. There are some arguments from the viewpoint of security on this issue. Could you let us know your thoughts on this issue?
Minister Kishida: First of all, I have read the reports. I do not know the details of this issue. However, according to a relevant person who interviewed Mr. Gemba, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the secretary in those reports is, to be exact, a former secretary and does not belong to his office any longer. Moreover, none of the staff of Mr. Gemba’s office were involved in the former secretary’s visit to China at all. They do not know what the former secretary did or whom the former secretary met in China. That’s what I’ve learned. For more details, please ask former minister Gemba.
Matsumoto, Jiji Press: Is the person who interviewed former minister Gemba a MOFA official?
Minister Kishida: Yes, a MOFA official.
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