Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, June 28, 2013, 9:56 a.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Attendance at the ASEAN-related Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: As has already been announced, from tomorrow to July 3, I am scheduled to visit Brunei to attend the ASEAN-related Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Taking this opportunity, the Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held on July 1. In addition, we are working to arrange bilateral foreign ministerial meetings with various countries.

(2) Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons

Minister Kishida: Regarding the “Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons” which I proposed at the Sixth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) held in The Hague in April, as of today, we have begun accepting applications. As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings during the war, it is Japan’s responsibility to disseminate the realities of the radiation exposure to the world toward realization of a world without nuclear weapons. I believe the “Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons” is an important program which will carry on its activities to future generations. I hope to see many young people actively apply for it. We hope to select the first Youth Communicators prior to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony to be held on August 6.

Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Ohtani, NHK: With regard to the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting you referred to in your opening remarks, will you explain the aim of holding the meeting at this timing, and as you are working to arrange bilateral meetings, what is the current status of consideration of Japan-ROK and Japan-China foreign ministerial meetings?
Minister Kishida: First of all, when we consider the strategic environment in the region, the significance of the collaboration between Japan, the U.S., and the ROK goes without saying. I hope that holding this trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting will enhance communication and lead to close collaboration going forward. As for bilateral foreign ministers’ meetings, we are working to firstly arrange meetings with ASEAN countries which we have not yet had bilateral talks with. Meetings with other countries will be announced as needed when they are finalized.

China-ROK Summit Meeting

Kamide, Freelance: China and the ROK recently held a summit meeting. Needless to say, conventionally, the second summit meeting for newly inaugurated ROK Presidents has been with Japan. How do you acknowledge the fact that that isn’t the case this time and how do you read into the overall messages sent to Japan although it is said that there aren’t any severe or condemning implications against us? I appreciate your views.
Minister Kishida: Firstly, I believe the destinations of heads of state’s visits are determined based on individual circumstances. Therefore, I believe I am not in a position to comment which country should be visited first. In any case, the Japanese Government has communicated on various levels with the ROK Government, with which we share basic values and interests, on issues including North Korea. We will make steady efforts to continue establishing a close relationship.
On our view and understanding of the China-ROK summit meeting, I am aware that on the afternoon of the 27th, President Park Geun-hye and President Xi Jinping had a ROK-China summit meeting in Beijing, and announced a joint statement on the future vision of the two countries. With regard to how I recognize it, since this is a summit meeting held between third countries, the Government of Japan will refrain from voicing our assessment. We will continue to closely monitor these various international moves with interest.

Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons

Sakamoto, NHK: I would like to ask about the Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons, which you mentioned in your opening remarks. You mentioned that it is an important program to be carried on to future generations. With the aging of the atomic bomb victims, as a Minister from the Hiroshima Prefecture, how do you regard the significance of appointing young people to pass on experiences of the atomic bombing?
Minister Kishida: As you just did, many people have pointed out the aging of the atomic bomb victims, and numerous voices of concern have been raised that the various experiences of Japan as a nation hit by atomic bombs, and the realities of nuclear devastation may not be carried on to future generations due to the aging of the victims. Under such circumstances, I believe that as the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation, it is Japan’s responsibility to clearly communicate the realities beyond generations.
I sincerely hope that many young people will apply for this Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons program and concretely and proactively participate in such initiatives. I am confident that these initiatives will receive support in the international community and advance our major goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons. It is my strong desire to actively promote these initiatives.

Issue of the recognition of history

Saito, Kyodo News: With regard to the China-ROK Summit Meeting, you mentioned that you would like to refrain from making any specific comments regarding meetings between third countries. Leaving the China-ROK summit meeting aside, in general terms, do you believe that in the East Asia region, the issue of the recognition of history is a factor obstructing the peace and stability of the region? Please give us your view on this point.
Minister Kishida: With regard to the recognition of history of the Japanese Government, we have explained to and communicated with the international community on numerous occasions. If Japan’s perspective or recognition of history is not sufficiently understood, we must continue our steady efforts and thoroughly explain Japan’s stance. I hope by continuing our efforts we will earn the understandings of other countries. We will further our efforts with the aim of advancing communications.
Saito, Kyodo News: There is one point I would like to confirm on that. The issue of the recognition of history is in a way impacting the peace and stability of the region. Although I will refrain from mentioning whether this is due to problems on the Japanese side or the ROK side, in any case, do you acknowledge that this issue has become a factor impacting peace and stability?
Minister Kishida: Japan, by thoroughly explaining our recognition of history, we will collaborate with the international community and work together for peace and prosperity. We will strive to establish this structure. I believe Japan must promote our peace diplomacy based on this stance regardless of the circumstances.

Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons

Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: I would like to ask about the Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons. I understand this to be a youth version of the Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons. Some Special Communicators’ travel expenses are currently partially supported. Are you also considering such financial support for the Youth Communicators?
Minister Kishida: First of all, this program of Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons involves young people broadly communicating to the international community the disastrous consequences of the use of nuclear weapons on occasions such as international conferences, atomic bombing exhibitions and other related events. From this perspective, we give the name “Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons.”
As for financial assistance, which you just pointed out, since there will be various cases and circumstances for each application, our policy is to deliberate cooperation means including financial assistance on a case-by-case basis.

Personnel affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Yamagishi, Asahi Shimbun: I would like to ask about personnel affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I believe today’s Cabinet meeting approved personnel changes of Vice-Minister and other senior officials. Vice-Minister Chikao Kawai will leave his position after his exceptionally short stint and Mr. Akitaka Saiki, who is said to be very close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will assume the position of Vice-Minister. Against this backdrop, what instructions have you given or will you give, and what do you expect from these two officials?
Minister Kishida: Since last September, as the top ministry official, Vice-Minister Kawai has exerted his leadership and achieved great results on a variety of issues, including North Korea’s missile and nuclear issues, repeated intrusions into Japanese territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands, and the terrorist attack in Algeria, as well as addressing various large-scale international conferences including TICAD V. I would like to offer my sincere gratitude for his great effort and many accomplishments to date.
Japan continues to face many difficult diplomatic challenges. Under newly appointed Vice-Minister Saiki’s leadership, I hope the renewed organization will steadily address the diplomatic challenges surrounding Japan. As the House of Councilors election nears and various diplomatic schedules are expected by the end of the year, it is my hope that steady efforts are made under the new leadership of Vice-Minister Saiki.

The Senkaku Islands

Sugimoto, Sankei Shimbun: I would like to ask about former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who is currently visiting China. He made a statement similar to the one he’d made recently in Japan that regarding the issue of the Senkaku Islands, it cannot be helped that China considers that Japan stole the islands from China, and that this is only natural. What is your take on this statement? Will you also comment whether these sorts of remarks can be further tolerated? If not, are you prepared to take measures such as lodging a protest?
Minister Kishida: First of all, on the remarks, I am aware of them through media reports. If he actually made the remarks that you have just pointed out, it is completely unacceptable and intolerable. I believe that those remarks by a former Prime Minister seriously undermine our national interest. I believe that we must continue to explain and disseminate Japan’s basic stance on this issue in a thorough manner going forward, but at this point, there are no plans to specifically approach Mr. Hatoyama personally.