Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 10:40 a.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

 (1) Visit to Central and South America and Los Angeles Foreign Minister

 Fumio Kishida: From April 28 to May 5, I visited three Central and South American countries of Mexico, Peru, and Panama, as well as Los Angeles. It was the first time in 26 years that a Minister for Foreign Affairs visited three countries in Central and South America, and it was the first time in 19 years for a Minister for Foreign Affairs to visit Los Angeles. I feel that I was able to showcase the presence of Japanese diplomacy in these regions.

 In Mexico, I gave a policy speech on Central and South America. In this speech, I talked about two pillars – namely the strengthening of economic relations with Central and South America, which is becoming the growth centers; and second, the promotion of global cooperation in an aim to form an international community based on rulemaking with Central and South America, a region that has increased its international influence in recent years. I spoke of these two pillars. The strengthening of cooperation in these two areas was also agreed upon with the three Central and South American countries I visited.

 In addition, I had the opportunity to exchange opinions with people of Japanese ancestry in Mexico, Peru, and Los Angeles. People of Japanese ancestry can be said to be important assets for Japanese diplomacy, and I once again strongly recognized the importance of communicating with them.

 (2) Visit to Japan by H.E. Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic

 Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: At today’s Cabinet Meeting it has been decided to invite H.E. Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic, and Ms. Valérie Trierweiler, to Japan on a state visit from June 6 to June 8.

 With President Hollande’s visit to Japan, we aim to establish a “special partner relationship” in a wide range of areas, including politics and security, economy, and culture.

Situation in North Korea

Yamagishi, Asahi Shimbun: I have a question about the North Korea missile issue. According to some news reports, U.S. and Japanese government sources say North Korea has moved the mobile missiles away from a launch pad. First, to what extent has the Japanese Government confirmed the facts?
Minister Kishida: I am aware that there have been such reports. We have keen interest in the events in North Korea, and are working on a regular basis to gather and analyze information. Because the content and analysis of specific information concern intelligence, I must refrain from giving you an answer to your question in light of the nature of the matter.
Yamagishi, Asahi Shimbun: A U.S.-ROK summit meeting is scheduled today in the U.S. Can this be considered to be some kind of message on the part of North Korea in anticipation of that move? What is your assessment?
Minister Kishida: I am not in a position to speculate on the intentions of North Korea. So I do not. We nevertheless will continue our persistent information gathering. We pay close attention to the situation, and are fully prepared. This remains the same.
Saito, Kyodo News: U.S.-ROK joint military exercises have already ended. During the military exercises, as you know, North Korea undertook a number of provocative actions. Now, the joint exercises have ended. Concerning whether or not there have been some kinds of changes in North Korea, I won’t ask you about any minute issues because any detailed comments would touch upon intelligence, but in terms of the overall situation, I want to ask you about your recognition related to whether or not there has been a change in North Korea between before and after the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises. Also, if there has been a change, I want to ask you if the Japanese Government thinks this should be leveraged for dialogue with North Korea.
Minister Kishida: Concerning information gathering and information analysis, we are continuing to exert every effort, and given that, I must refrain from making any comments about the specific intentions of North Korea. I would say that we continue these efforts to gather information while we watch the movements of North Korea. In any case, I think that it is important for North Korea to take a sincere attitude toward making clear its intention of having dialogue with the international community.

Issue of the Abe Administration’s Recognition of History

Kamide, Freelance: There were many issues surfaced during the long holiday period, and I would like to ask you a couple of questions, but since time is limited, I will ask you only one of them. The U.S. Government and U.S. media are reacting in an unexpectedly severe way toward Japan’s recognition of history, in particular that of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Concerning the visits to Yasukuni Shrine and then a review of the Murayama Statement, I want to ask you how you take the reactions of The New York Times in particular, as well as The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. This issue surfaced within a timeframe in which there is high praise for Abenomics. Even some from the ruling party are saying that the Prime Minister has been overeager. I also want to ask you how you take that. I would like to hear your opinion as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Minister Kishida:First of all, in terms of the recognition of history of the Abe Administration, as the Chief Cabinet Secretary has said from time to time, Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations during a certain period in the past.
The Japanese Government, squarely facing these historical facts, has expressed its feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and has also expressed feelings of sincere mourning for all World War II victims, both at home and abroad. This reflects the feelings of the Abe Cabinet.
Japan considers its neighboring countries, such as the ROK and China, to be extremely invaluable partners. Japan will continue to make efforts toward strengthening these ties, as well as making contributions toward the peace and prosperity of the region.
We will continue to thoroughly explain our recognition.
Kamide, Freelance:Then why is there such a strong criticism on this point coming particularly from the U.S.? What is the background of this? How do you assess that sort of matter? I think that on the surface, the issue is as you said, but in reality there has been a backlash. I would like to know what you think about this – the reason behind it and so forth.
Minister Kishida: I have just said about the Abe Administration’s recognition of history. We must continue to provide good explanation about our recognition for the international community. I think that we need further efforts to thoroughly communicate the way of thinking of the Abe Administration.
Kamide, Freelance: Do you mean that there has been poor communication?
Minister Kishida:We continue our efforts to further explain our view.

Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Fujita, Asahi Shimbun: A meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France is scheduled this evening. Could you explain what sort of content you expect to discuss?
Minister Kishida:I am scheduled to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Laurent Fabius this evening. It is very important to have this kind of strategic dialogue, and I recognize the great significance of the meeting. There will be a sincere exchange of opinions on various issues such as Japan-France and Japan-EU relations, and we will have good communication. Furthermore, I hope that our meeting will lead to the visit to Japan by President Hollande scheduled in June, which I mentioned earlier.