Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama
Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 4:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1)Visit to Caribbean Countries by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura
Mr. Norio Maruyama, Foreign Press Secretary: State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kentaro Sonoura is visiting Caribbean countries from July 23 to 29. He already visited the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as well as Saint Lucia. These visits involved meetings with the foreign ministers and other high-level government officials of both countries, and confirmation of efforts to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperate in the international arena including the United Nations. Following this, he is scheduled to hold meetings with the foreign ministers and other high-level government officials of Suriname and Jamaica. This is the first State Minister or Parliamentary Vice-Minister level visit to Suriname since establishing diplomatic ties.
(2) Visit by the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, has been visiting Japan through today. He met with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi, the Executive Senior Vice President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Chancellor of Sophia University, among others. These meetings confirmed continuation of cooperation in the international arena and in the development field and academic exchanges.
(3) Importance of the Caribbean
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The Caribbean countries share fundamental values with Japan and are important partners for cooperation in the international arena. In particular, they are a major presence in relation to United Nations Security Council reforms and climate change. Reinforcement of cooperation with Caribbean countries, including in these areas, is important for Japan’s multilateral diplomacy and Prime Minister Abe’s “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map.”
The State Minister and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers of MOFA have visited seven of the 14 CARICOM countries and eight regional countries including Cuba this year alone, including the visits by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sonoura this time.
(4) Visit by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei to Panama and Honduras
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shunsuke Takei is visiting the United States, Canada, the Republic of Panama, and the Republic of Honduras from July 24 to August 2.
The State Minister and Parliamentary Vice-Ministers of MOFA have visited six of the seven Central American countries this year alone, including these visits by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei.
(5) Visits by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takisawa to Finland and Spain
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: Additionally, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Motome Takisawa is visiting the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Spain from July 25 to 29.
He will exchange opinions regarding bilateral ties, regional situations, and cooperation at in the international arena with government officials and others at these destinations.
(6) Reception Co-hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Governor of Okayama Prefecture
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: On August 2, a Joint Reception will be held by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Governor of Okayama Prefecture in the Iikura House.
This reception is a program co-hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and a head of local government to promote a variety of charms of local municipalities by utilizing the Iikura House as a venue. MOFA supports local governments for regional revitalization and promotion of the local economy, while taking in the dynamic growth of overseas.
Guests will be entertained by the introduction of Okayama’s tourism and cuisine promotion program, the exhibition of Bizen swords, and the performance of “Bichu Takahashi Matsuyama Dance,” Okayama’s Bon dance. “Charms” of Okayama will be widely promoted to the diplomatic corps and foreign chambers of commerce stationed in Tokyo as well as the tourist industry.
Prior to the reception, a seminar entitled “Okayama, the Land of Sunshine -Bizen swords-” will be held by Okayama Prefecture with the cooperation of MOFA in the Iikura House.
South China Sea Issue
Caixin Media, Masutomo: The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) will be held in Manila in the Philippines next week. I have some questions related to this event. This meeting is likely to discuss issues such as North Korea, the South China Sea, and the spread of terrorism mainly in Mindanao. Please explain the type of agreement that Japan aims to reach on these topics. In particular, what does the Japanese Government think about the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) for which a framework has already been reached? For example, what type of content does the Government consider to be preferable in a full-fledged agreement?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: I would like to refrain from speculating at this point in time about the content of the upcoming ASEAN-related meetings. Since you mentioned the South China Sea issue, I would just like to make one comment on this. Issues surrounding the South China Sea are directly linked to regional peace and stability. They are matters of concern to the international community, including Japan, and we are closely monitoring the developments. Japan has consistently upheld rule of law in the seas. We will underscore the importance of all parties to the South China Sea issue to make efforts to achieve peaceful solutions to the disputes in accordance with international law.
Sankei Shimbun, Ohashi: I have some questions in connection with the Republic of Korea (ROK). The film called “Battleship Island” on Hashima has been released in the ROK. Please indicate whether you are aware of the film’s content and if so your reaction to the film.
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The director of the film “Battleship Island” has stated that it is a “fictional story,” and so my understanding is that it is not a documentary film reflecting historical facts. Accordingly, the Government will not comment on each piece of content of this kind of film.
Japan is concerned that this incident might result in a setback of current efforts by Japan and the ROK to advance a future-oriented relations. We wish to deepen the Japan-ROK relations in a future-oriented direction. In any event, the Japan-ROK Claims Settlement completely and finally resolved issues related to property and claims between Japan and the ROK, including in regard to requisition of labor workers.
Sankei Shimbun, Ohashi: Has Japan lodged a protest to the ROK?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: This is a film of the private sector and we will refrain from commenting on its content. Regarding our relations with the ROK Government, the two countries are seeking to advance our future-oriented relations. In this regard, the two leaders agreed on this point at the previous Japan-ROK Summit meeting. Japan and the ROK will maintain close communications based on this direction.
Sankei Shimbun, Ohashi: Is my understanding correct that Japan has not lodged a protest about the film?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: We will refrain from commenting on each piece of content of this film.
Sankei Shimbun, Ohashi Hashima was inscribed as an industrial heritage of the Meiji Japan era in 2015, and in December 2017 Japan will report on progress to establish an information center. The ROK is claiming that the information center should cover people forced to work in Hashima from the Korean Peninsula. How does Japan intend to deal with this issue?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama The World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution when it inscribed this site on the World Heritage List. As noted, the resolution recommended submission of a report on progress with the World Heritage Committee’s resolution to the World Heritage Center by December 1, 2017. Japan takes this request seriously and is currently making sincere efforts to prepare a progress report.
Sankei Shimbun, Ohashi: I have one last question. The ROK has long been raising the comfort women issue. The ROK is now also beginning to raise an issue about requisition of labor workers. What is your view of the situation?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: As I explained earlier, both leaders agreed to pursue the Japan-ROK relations with a future-oriented approach in the recent Japan-ROK Summit meeting. It is true that difficult issues exist between Japan and the ROK because we are neighbors. These tough issues need to be properly managed to avoid adverse impact on overall Japan-ROK relations. Japan believes that this is in the shared interest of the two countries. In this sense, the Japan-ROK agreement is an essential foundation for building this type of future-oriented relationship, and we will continue to maintain close communications with the ROK side and build a future-oriented Japan-ROK relations.
Asahi Shimbun, Geji: I have a question on the same topic. Does your point on refraining from commenting on the film’s content in response to whether Japan lodged a protest mean that you will not comment at this venue or not issue a comment to those who produced the film?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: The Government of Japan will refrain from commenting on the content.
Asahi Shimbun, Geji: Does this mean not commenting to the film production side as well?
Foreign Press Secretary Maruyama: We will refrain from commenting on the film’s content.