Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary ONO Hikariko
Wednesday, June 7, 2023, 4:10 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Issue of Abductions by North Korea (Japan-North Korea High-level Consultations)
Yomiuri Shimbun, Tanikawa: Regarding the issue of abductions by North Korea, it has been reported that the governments of Japan and North Korea are in contact behind the scenes. Is this true? Additionally, Prime Minister Kishida has indicated Japan’s intention to deal with the issue through consultations that report directly to him. Please explain how the Government of Japan will be dealing with the issue.
Ms. ONO Hikariko, Press Secretary: I will refrain from disclosing the details of what Japan is urging North Korea as it may have implications for our future negotiations.
That being said, Japan’s response to North Korea is as the Prime Minister stated at the Citizens’ Rally on May 27.
That is, the Government of Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea through comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues, and settling the unfortunate past, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of 2002. In particular, the abduction of Japanese nationals, an issue whose resolution has time constraints, is a human rights issue about which we cannot let our mindfulness dwindle for even a moment, as the families of the victims continue to age. We will continue to do our utmost to boldly tackle the issue to realize the return of all the abductees to Japan at the earliest possible date.
On that note, the Prime Minister stated that he will continue to seize every possible opportunity to convey his determination to Chairman Kim Jong-un from the perspective of resolving outstanding issues of concern in Japan-North Korea relations and jointly carving out a new era, and that, at the same time, Japan will press forward proactively, engaging in high-level consultations while reporting directly to him, to bring about summit-level talks at an early time. The Prime Minister then stated that, based on a broad perspective, he will overcome every obstacle and make his own decisions for the peace and stability of the region and the international community as well as for both Japan and North Korea.
Joint Patrol by Russian and Chinese Aircraft
Kyodo News, Katsurada: I have a question about the military activities of Chinese and Russian bombers in the periphery of Japan. Yesterday, Chinese and Russian bombers conducted a long-distance joint patrol from the Sea of Japan to the East China Sea, and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter aircraft in response. According to yesterday’s announcement by the Ministry of Defense, Japan conveyed its concerns through diplomatic channels. Please elaborate on the details. Please also share with us your thoughts on the intensification of Chinese and Russian military activities in the periphery of Japan.
Press Secretary Ono: We have confirmed that Chinese and Russian bombers conducted a joint patrol from the Sea of Japan to the East China Sea on June 6.
This is the sixth joint patrol since 2019. The series of joint actions by the two countries’ militaries in the periphery of Japan, including the recent joint patrol, can only be construed as coercive activities against Japan.
This view was conveyed to China from the Deputy Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Japan to the Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of China in Japan, and from the Minister-Counsellor of the Embassy of Japan in China to the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. We also expressed our serious concern on the recent joint patrol from a security perspective. Additionally, Japan conveyed its grave concern from a national security perspective over the continued and increasingly frequent joint actions by the Chinese and Russian militaries in the periphery of Japan.
To Russia, we also reiterated Japan’s position on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and conveyed our grave concerns, stating that Japan cannot condone Russia’s actions that further escalate tensions in the East Asian region while intensifying the situation in Ukraine.
In addition, given that China continues to conduct joint military exercises with Russian forces at a time when Russia is violating international law through its aggression against Ukraine and the international community is working to stop it, Japan once again urged China to play a responsible role in maintaining international peace and security.
Opening of a NATO Tokyo Office
Radio France, Nishimura: I would like to ask about the possible establishment of a NATO liaison office in Tokyo. It seems that the establishment of a liaison office is being considered, but the media has also reported that France is opposed to the establishment. What is the view or the position of Japan? Is the establishment of a liaison office desirable? Furthermore, what would be your reaction if other NATO members express objections like France?
Press Secretary Ono: We are aware of the referred reports.
As Minister Hayashi answered yesterday, NATO’s establishment of a liaison office in Japan is undergoing various reviews within NATO, and at this time I would like to refrain from answering based on speculation.
Legislation for the Promotion of LGBT Understanding
Asahi Shimbun, Nagasaki: Diet deliberations over legislation for the promotion of LGBT understanding are expected to begin by the end of this week, as early as June 9. Gender equality, including LGBT, was incorporated into the G7 Summit’s Leaders’ Communiqué. Please share with us the Government’s view on these developments.
Press Secretary Ono: Our policy is to respect and watch over developments related to lawmaker-initiated legislation, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to refrain from making any comments.
Building on the G7 Hiroshima Summit, the Government will continue to listen to the voices of the people and fully address the matter to realize a society in which diversity is respected and everyone values each other’s human rights and dignity and can enjoy vibrant lives.
G7 Hiroshima Summit (Section of the Leaders’ Communiqué regarding the Discharge of ALPS Treated Water into the Sea)
Radio France, Nishimura: I would like to ask a question about the G7 Summit’s Communiqué. There is a significant discrepancy between the English and Japanese versions of the Communiqué on the discharge of treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. By that, I mean that in English it states that an IAEA survey is needed, but the Japanese version, which I believe is a provisional translation, is totally different. It states that the discharge itself is necessary. Do you know if anyone has already pointed this out to the Government? If someone has, why has the Government not corrected the mistake? If you can verify that there is such a mistake, will you correct it?
Press Secretary Ono: Firstly, generally speaking, the English versions are the official texts of the outcome documents of the G7 Hiroshima Summit and the G7 related ministerial meetings. The provisional Japanese translations are made available solely for reference purposes.
That being said, the referred section of the Leaders’ Communiqué on the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea is identical in wording to the English text in the G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers’ Communiqué. Accordingly, it was decided that the same provisional translation would be used. For more information on the provisional translation of this section, please inquire with the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
Radio France, Nishimura: I have a related question. It seems extremely unacceptable that such a mistake is still there a month after the summit. You say it is a “provisional translation” and “for reference purposes.” However, it is very likely that readers will read the Japanese version and get an incorrect understanding. Do you consider that a prompt revision is unnecessary?
Press Secretary Ono: Our answer to this matter is as I stated earlier. With regard to the provisional translation you are referring to, please inquire with the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.