G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Presidency Press Conference)
April 11, 2016
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: The G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that was held over the past two days achieved frank, vigorous, and in-depth discussions on pressing issues confronting the international community as well as major regional situations with the cooperation of the Foreign Ministers from the G7 nations. I believe this has been a historic meeting. I would like to again express gratitude to the Foreign Minister from each country, as well as all other people involved, for their participation. In these opening remarks, I intend to briefly review the major results from the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as the Chairman.
The G7 nations share respect for democracy, rule of law, market economies, territorial integrity, and respect for basic human rights as universal values. I believe the stability and prosperity of the international community to this day can be considered outcomes of the order underpinned by these values.
Today, however, the international community that is based on these universal values is confronting challenges from unilateral actions which change the status quo. The Foreign Ministers’ Meeting discussed terrorism and violent extremism as the most obvious challenge, and the refugee crisis that it has created as a result. The Foreign Ministers shared the view that they condemn indiscriminate attacks, brutal behavior, and other atrocities by terrorists, and that the G7 nations should lead the initiatives of the international community to address these issues.
To tackle terrorism and the refugee crisis, while short-term efforts such as border measures and emergency humanitarian assistance are of course important components, it is vital to take long-term initiatives to deal with root underlying causes and to aggressively move forward with assistance toward building tolerant and stable societies that do not foster violent extremism in not only the Middle East, but also throughout the world. Based on these perspectives, the G7 nations agreed to utilize their respective strengths and proceed with initiatives related to terrorism and the refugee crisis in a mutually complementary way and in a manner that generates synergistic effects. The Foreign Ministers agreed to formulate a G7 Counterterrorism Action Plan for the Ise-Shima Summit that contains measures to combat terrorism and violent extremism.
On regional situations, the Foreign Ministers confirmed their intent to bolster collaboration as the G7 in dealing with conditions in the Middle East and the situation in Ukraine. Furthermore, being the first G7 event held in Asia in eight years, the Foreign Ministers also discussed circumstances in Asia that have seen actions that undermine the stability of the international order, which include North Korea’s nuclear test and ballistic missile launch, the abductions issue, and unilateral changes to the maritime status quo that raise tensions.
Additionally, responses to issues facing the international community, such as disarmament and non-proliferation, are important for ensuring that the next generation enjoys the values-based order that we have built.
Disarmament and non-proliferation face difficult conditions at this point, and now is the time for cooperation between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. Unified issuance of a message to the international community by the G7, which contains both types of countries, and clarification of specific methods for cooperation by the two groups is very important in order to revive global momentum for the realization of a world without nuclear weapons, which unfortunately has withered today. Given this thinking, the Foreign Ministers decided to issue the Hiroshima Declaration as a strong message on nuclear disarmament.
For the first time ever, the G7 Foreign Ministers visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims, and visited the Atomic Bomb Dome and they came into contact with the realities of atomic bombings. I think the visit, along with the Hiroshima Declaration, was a historical step toward reviving international momentum for a world without nuclear weapons.
The manner in which issues discussed over the past two days are addressed could be a dividing point for the future international order. I expect G7 nations, which share universal values, to lead initiatives toward the realization of peace and prosperity in the international community based on results from the Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
Specific results from the Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting are the issuance of a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Communiqué, the just-mentioned Hiroshima Declaration, and a Statement on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation and a Statement on Maritime Security as attachments to the Communiqué. As the Chairman, I am very pleased that the G7 managed to send a strong message to the international community. I also hope that the results from the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting contribute to the success of the Ise-Shima Summit taking place at the end of May.
As the Chair of this G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I was in a position to lead the discussions. In my position as Chair, when I reflect back on the discussions in the meeting, I feel that we held truly earnest discussions, in a frank and open manner, and that the Foreign Ministers thoroughly demonstrated their wisdom as political leaders. At times, we held vigorous discussions and greatly exceeded the allotted time as a result. As the Chair of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I am satisfied with the highly in-depth discussions that we held.
Finally, I would like to conclude my opening remarks with an expression of my heartfelt gratitude to the people of Hiroshima, who welcomed the G7 Foreign Ministers with a spirit of hospitality.
Kurihara, NHK: In the Joint Communiqué, a statement on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was issued, and in a different document, reference is made to the situation in Asia, including the South China Sea and North Korea. Has each of the G7 countries been able to reach a shared recognition of the increasingly severe security environment in Asia or the situation in Asia? North Korea has repeatedly carried out provocative actions, including multiple nuclear tests and is moving in the opposite direction to nuclear disarmament. The real threat posed by North Korea and others must be urgently addressed. In light of this, what practical steps do you envision in the pursuit of the ideal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons through cooperation between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states?
Minister Kishida: Given that the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is being held in Asia for the first time in eight years, I believe we were able to hold thorough discussions on the situation in Asia, including North Korea and maritime security. As I mentioned earlier in my opening remarks, I believe we held highly in-depth discussions. Since Japan is the only member of the G7 from Asia, we had slight concerns that the awareness of the issues in Asia among other G7 members may have weakened. However, upon holding discussions, more opinions than I expected were expressed and a vigorous back-and-forth discussions took place. In fact, we greatly exceeded the allotted time, and I feel that we were able to hold in-depth discussions.
On this occasion, the G7 Foreign Ministers were able to hold thorough discussions on Asia. While there are concerns that momentum toward a world without nuclear weapons has withered among the members of the international community, North Korea has conducted nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. In light of this, the environment surrounding efforts towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is extremely challenging. However, I emphasized that precisely under such circumstances, it is important that the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting issue a “Hiroshima Declaration,” and send a strong and clear message to the world. As a result, I strongly feel that the issuance of a strong message based on discussion and shared view among the G7 countries, which is comprised of both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, was both important and significant for promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, especially given the need for cooperation among nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.
I strongly believe that we must promote cooperation among nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, based on such discussions. Furthermore, I intend to lead international dialogue on this issue, by carefully communicating the accurate recognition and understanding of the realities of the atomic bombing, which support such measures, across national and generational boundaries.
Regarding maritime security, the G7 Foreign Ministers affirmed the importance of securing and promoting the rule of law at sea, as well as the importance of G7 cooperation in this regard.
We also discussed unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, shared concern over the current situation, and agreed that we oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo.
Furthermore, following on from the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Lubeck last year, the G7 Foreign Ministers have once again issued an independent statement regarding maritime security. I fully intend to ensure that this outcome contributes to future efforts.
Sharp, Bloomberg: There may be some overlap with the previous question, but why did you consider maritime security to be important, and why did you feel it was important to specifically mention the South China Sea and the East China Sea in the maritime security statement?
Of course, in the statement China was not explicitly mentioned, but could you tell me what kind of concerns you and the G7 Foreign Ministers shared regarding China? Could you also tell me over which specific actions by China in the East China Sea and the South China Sea you shared concern?
Minister Kishida: As I mentioned earlier, the G7 Foreign Ministers held thorough discussions on maritime security and issued an independent statement.
Currently actions are occurring in maritime areas that compromise the stability of the international order, including unilateral actions that change the status quo and raise tensions. The G7 Foreign Ministers discussed the current situation and confirmed that we will strengthen G7 cooperation to secure and promote the rule of law on the sea.
In this context, as you pointed out, we also discussed the current situations in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. We shared concern and agreed that we strongly oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo.
Furthermore, as is clearly expressed in the Joint Communiqué we shared the view that we urge all states to refrain from unilateral actions, and agreed on the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes based on international law and measures to ensure safe maritime passage, including anti-piracy measures.
I think you also asked why maritime security was taken up as a main topic of discussion. I believe that the importance of maritime security, the rule of law at sea, and the peaceful settlement of disputes based on international law, is of great interest not only to Asia, but to the international community as a whole. Based on these perspectives, I believe that at this G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, many countries expressed their strong interest on the subject, and we were able to hold in-depth discussions.
Imasu, Hiroshima Home TV: Hiroshima was the first site for the series of meetings related to the G7 Ise-Shima Summit. What are your thoughts about the significance of holding the meeting in an atomic bombing site? Additionally, do you feel that the Hiroshima Declaration issued as part of this meeting was enough to gain the understanding of atomic bomb survivors? Please explain your views.
Also, I would like to ask about expectations for a visit to the atomic bombing site by President Obama of the United States.
Minister Kishida: Regarding the Hiroshima Declaration, discussions took place this time against a backdrop of withering global momentum for the realization of a world without nuclear weapons, as the fact that the final document was not adopted at the NPT review conference last year demonstrates. This is the first jointly issued document with an agreement on the full scope of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation by nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states following the NPT Review Meeting. I think this is meaningful. I hope that this provides an opportunity to raise and revitalize international momentum again.
The Hiroshima Declaration urges promotion of dialogue between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. It also contains the phrases “immense devastation” and “human suffering” as a consequence of the atomic bombings and calls on the world’s political leaders to visit the atomic bombing sites. Additionally, it mentions an awareness of the difficult security environment, including North Korea’s provocations, stresses the importance of improving the transparency of nuclear capabilities, and proposes the importance of multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament. The Hiroshima Declaration covers this content, and it also includes the phrase “share the deep desire of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear weapons never be used again.”
I believe the Hiroshima Declaration incorporates the main themes currently being debated within the disarmament and non-proliferation discussion. As I just noted, it is a revolutionary document issued jointly with participation by nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, and the first since the stalemate of the NPT Review Conference last year. Not only did we succeed in issuing this document, but also the G7 Foreign Ministers visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, laid wreaths at the Cenotaph for Atomic Bombing Victims and even went to the Atomic Bomb Dome, which was not in the schedule, in light of a strong desire. I think these events, which allowed the G7 Foreign Ministers to directly come into contact with the realities of atomic bombings, along with the above-mentioned Hiroshima Declaration, constituted a historical step in revitalizing momentum for realizing a world without nuclear weapons in the international community.
You asked whether this was enough to gain the understanding of the people of Hiroshima and atomic bombing victims. The events crystallized the strong desire to revitalize momentum for realizing a world without nuclear weapons from the perspective I just explained, and I think the meeting was such that the people of Hiroshima can feel satisfied that it was worthwhile holding the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima.
You also asked about a visit to Hiroshima by President Obama. I would like to refrain, in my position, from commenting on the schedule of the US President.
Takenaka, Reuters: Mr. Donald Trump, a candidate in the US Presidential election has suggested approval for Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) acquiring nuclear arsenals. While Japan is maintaining the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, do you agree with Mr. Trump’s idea that Japan and other countries in the region should supply more conventional forces and reduce dependence on US forces?
Minister Kishida: This is a matter that may be attracting lots of attention, but I do not think it is appropriate to comment on individual statements by each of the candidates in the election that is taking place in the US.
Having said that, the Japan-US Alliance built on the Japan-US security framework serves as a cornerstone for the peace and security of not only Japan, but of the entire region, amid an increasingly difficult security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, and this reality will not change.
No matter who becomes the next US President, we must continue to foster understanding on the growing importance of the Japan-US Alliance’s role and work closely with the new US administration to reinforce the Japan-US Alliance.
Regarding nuclear capabilities, Japan has the Three Non-Nuclear Principles as well as the Atomic Energy Basic Act. Furthermore, in terms of responsibilities to an international treaty, Japan is a party to the NPT and considers that the NPT is highly important. It is unthinkable that Japan would possess nuclear weapons in light of its stance of placing emphasis on the NPT framework.
Tanaka, Chugoku Shimbun: You mentioned earlier the events involving direct contact with the realities of atomic bomb suffering. Did you feel today going to the site with the current Foreign Ministers of nuclear weapon states that the individual Foreign Ministers felt the inhumanity of the atomic bomb and will actually take steps toward the realization of a world without nuclear weapons? Also, please let us know if there were any specific interactions of this nature.
Furthermore, certain non-nuclear weapon states are increasingly calling for a legal ban on nuclear weapons. While none of the G7 countries are calling for a legal ban, please explain your thoughts on how Japan, as the only country to suffer an atomic bombing, could specifically bridge the gap between these countries calling for a ban and nuclear weapon countries.
Minister Kishida: First, you asked about whether the G7 Foreign Ministers sufficiently came into contact with the realities of atomic bombings and whether I felt they might take steps toward the realization of a world without nuclear weapons as a result.
The program consisted of a visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the laying of wreaths at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I believe the experiences from these events had a very significant impact on the G7 Foreign Ministers. They expressed a variety of impressions during our visit to the museum. Many of the G7 Foreign Ministers said that they were moved and were left with a very strong impression. The visit to the museum and perusal of materials was initially scheduled for 30 minutes. However, the individual G7 Foreign Ministers carefully and earnestly examined the materials. As a result, it actually took as long as 50 minutes until we left the museum. We laid wreaths at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and then suddenly, during the group photograph, interest was expressed to visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, which could be easily seen nearby, and I was asked whether that could happen. This was not scheduled at all. I confirmed whether the G7 Foreign Ministers were open to the five minute walk, and was concerned about whether security could immediately accommodate the visit, but it was quickly arranged and we walked from the Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to the Atomic Bomb Dome. Mr. Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, gave an explanation at the site. While it had not been planned at all, the G7 Foreign Ministers expressed a strong desire to go there. I think this was an example of the strong impact that the visit and observations had on them.
Besides the visits, the meeting succeeded in issuing the Hiroshima Declaration with the cooperation and agreement of nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. These two results suggest that it is possible to once again revitalize momentum for realizing a world without nuclear weapons.
You also asked about legal restriction on nuclear weapons. I believe a variety of approaches exist for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. I believe Japan must leverage the results from this meeting, including the Hiroshima Declaration, to promote cooperation among nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states at the United Nations and in other fora. I think Japan also needs to implement realistic and pragmatic measures that facilitate such cooperation and highlight the importance of such efforts. Japan hopes to achieve realistic results and specific advances by making cooperation between the two sides a reality.