Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 7:55 p.m. Central Entrance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Prime Minister of Russian Federation visits Four Northern Islands
Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I learned that Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, visited Etorofu Island today. This visit to Etorofu Island, an inherent part of Japan’s territory, by the incumbent Prime Minister of Russia is not compatible with the stance of the Government of Japan concerning the Four Northern Islands and such an act hurts the feelings of Japanese people. Therefore, it is a very regrettable act. Therefore, on the basis of my instruction, Mr. Hajime Hayashi, Director-General of the European Affairs Bureau, immediately lodged a protest first. Subsequently I summoned Mr. Evgeny Afanasiev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia, and stated the stance of our side and made a strong protest. In terms of the stance of the Government of Japan, I will also issue a Foreign Minister’s statement shortly. Territorial issues between Japan and Russia remain unsolved even after 70 years have passed since the end of the World War II because the Soviet Union/Russia did not join the San Francisco Peace Treaty and therefore we are still making negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty. Given such a condition as well as the current international situations, the visit to the four islands by the Prime Minister of Russia does not contribute to Japan-Russia relations at all. We are concerned by the repeated unilateral actions by the Russian side regarding the Four Northern Islands and will strongly request the Russian side to make a constructive action for the development of future Japan-Russia relations, including the issue of the conclusion of a peace treaty.
Fukai, TBS: Japan and Russia are making efforts to realize President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan by the end of this year. What influence do you think the visit to Etorofu Island by Prime Minister Medvedev has on the diplomacy between Japan and Russia?
Minister Kishida: While the leaders of the two countries agreed on President Putin’s visit to Japan by the end of this year, nothing has been determined specifically at present. Therefore, I recognize that this is an issue which requires a comprehensive consideration that takes various points into account.
Fukai, TBS: Do you think this visit will also influence your visit to Russia to some extent, though I think a specific schedule has not been determined for your visit as well?
Minister Kishida: Similar to President Putin’s visit to Japan, nothing has been determined yet. I think we need to give comprehensive consideration.
Kurihara, NHK: You have stated that nothing has been determined on your visit to Russia or President Putin’s visit to Japan. However, I think there are opportunities for the Prime Ministers or Foreign Ministers to meet each other in, for example, international conferences. Do you have an intention to hold a meeting on such an occasion? Also, what type of an approach will the Japanese side make on such an occasion?
Minister Kishida: The visit to Etorofu Island by Prime Minister Medvedev is very regrettable. Yet, I think what is important is to solve the existing issues of the Northern Territories. Since the leaders of the two countries agreed that political dialogues would be carried out, I think it is necessary to actively negotiate with them for the solution of the territorial issues.
Chijiiwa, TV Asahi: It seems that your answers concerning your visit to Russia or President Putin’s visit to Japan remain the same as before. Do you think the visits (to and from Russia) will be delayed by the Russian Prime Minister’s visit to Etorofu Island?
Minister Kishida: No specific schedule has been set yet in the first place. Therefore, this is not a matter of delay or postponement. I recognize that this is an issue which should be considered from various perspectives as in the past.
Fukai, TBS: If so, do you aim to realize President Putin’s visit to Japan by the end of this year as in the past?
Minister Kishida: Leaders of the two countries agreed on it. However, as I have stated, nothing has been determined at present and therefore this is not a matter of delay or postponement. I recognize that this is an issue which should be considered comprehensively from various perspectives as in the past.
Suzuki, Asahi: Do you mean Prime Minister Medvedev’s visit to the Northern Territories is included in those “various perspectives”?
Minister Kishida: I mean we will consider it from various perspectives.