Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, June 14, 2013, 10:12 a.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Osprey flight training

Yamashita, TV Asahi: I would like to ask you about Osprey flight training. We saw Ospreys flying near Futenma Air Station after 10:00 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday this week. Also we have a recording of Ospreys flying above a residential area around 10:50 p.m. This kind of incidents happens despite the fact that last year Okinawa Prefecture spoke out against this issue as a violation of the agreement between Japan and the U.S. It seems to suggest that the security measures agreed upon by the two countries are not being observed. I would like to ask how you will respond to the issue.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: I am aware that local residents in Okinawa have made a variety of points related to Osprey flight training and that they are concerned about its safety.

First of all, we must call on the U.S. side firmly to observe the agreement reached at the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee. On the occasions like that, the concern of Okinawa people should be delivered to the U.S. side properly. We need to thoroughly work with the U.S. to obtain the understanding of local citizens in Okinawa. The Government of Japan will make further efforts to obtain understanding on safety.

Yamashita, TV Asahi: The Japanese Government may have an understanding that it is unclear whether the agreement was violated or not, or rather an understanding that the agreement was not violated. What is your opinion on this issue? If there were no violations of the agreement, on what grounds has the Japanese Government reached that understanding?

Minister Kishida: We need to take various opinions humbly. Based on that, we need to make efforts to call on the U.S. side to observe the agreement reached at the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee. We will request the U.S. side to be fully responsible and accountable on this issue. The Government of Japan, in turn, should make further efforts to obtain the understanding of local people in Okinawa.

Landing of ammunition outside the Yausubetsu Maneuver Area

Watanabe, Hokkaido Shimbun: During training in the Yausubetsu Maneuver Area conducted by U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa, a shell used for training landed outside the maneuver area. It was confirmed that the accident was due to human error. The U.S. side and the Hokkaido Defense Bureau visited the affected local governments yesterday to request a restart of the training. For their part, the locals are concerned about an immediate restart of the training. I would like to ask how you see this incident and whether you think it is necessary to obtain a local understanding before restarting the training.

Minister Kishida: In relation to the landing of ammunition outside the Yausubetsu Maneuver Area during artillery live-fire training of U.S. Marines, the U.S. side has explained that it was due to human error, and showed us recurrence preventive measures. Based on the report, I believe that the Ministry of Defense is making explanations to people in the affected local governments.

I am not aware of the specific timeframe for the restart of the training. In any case, it is critical for the U.S. side to ensure that solid preventive measures are in place before restarting training. I also believe that it is important to obtain the solid understanding of local citizens on this issue. It is critical for us to explain the root causes of this incident in detail.

Roles played by Kochi Kai

Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: I would like to hear your opinion on the role of Kochi Kai in the current Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), as the chair of this faction.

Minister Kishida: The political faction Kochi Kai started in 1957. I am proud to be a member of this faction, where my superiors in the history of the LDP have endeavored so much for our party and for Japanese politics. I absolutely believe that based on that history, the members of Kochi Kai must work to thoroughly fulfill their role within the LDP toward the future. That is my recognition of our role.

Remark by Ambassador Hideaki Ueda at the UN Committee against Torture

Nishinaka, Freelance: Rude words came out from Ambassador in Charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda after the Mauritius delegate spoke about the realization of transparent interrogations in Japan. The scene was uploaded on YouTube and other media, and now it causes problems. To what extent do you know about this issue? I would also like to ask what sort of picture you have on this matter.

Minister Kishida: I am aware of that information. I feel that we must thoroughly carry out our accountability and exert efforts until we can gain understanding if the real intentions of Japan have not been thoroughly communicated.

Nishinaka, Freelance: However, the ambassador's remark was not a mere counterargument. In response to ridicule from the floor, Ambassador Ueda said, “Don't laugh." and “Shut up! Shut up!" in sequence. No matter what the content of the exchange was, I believe that his behavior utterly trampled the sensitiveness of the international community to human rights. What is your opinion on this issue?

Minister Kishida: I have received reports on the exchange. If the actual exchange caused any misunderstanding, we must exert efforts moving forward to thoroughly gain understanding.

Nishinaka, Freelance: Not only in light of the Convention against Torture but also in light of the UN Human Rights Council as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Japan has received various UN recommendations. The Government of Japan has been criticized for not responding appropriately to them. If you have any plans moving forward regarding international human rights, please let us know.

Minister Kishida: In the past, throughout history, basic human rights have often been infringed upon. Japan is continuing diplomatic efforts to ensure that the 21st century is free from further violations of basic human rights. We must thoroughly gain understanding on this basic position of Japan. As for specific issues, we should thoroughly deliver this basic position and make efforts to gain understanding, too.

Landing of ammunition outside the Yausubetsu Maneuver Area and a Japan-Russia Summit Meeting to be held at the G8 Summit

Watanabe, Hokkaido Shimbun: Let me ask a question about the incident that occurred at the Yausubetsu Maneuver Area. I think that training by U.S. Marines in Yausubetsu was started in the first place in order to reduce the impact on Okinawa. However, this incident occurred. I would like to ask how you see this situation.

I have another question related to a Japan-Russia Summit Meeting to be held at the G8 Summit. At the last Japan-Russia Summit Meeting in April, it was determined that vice-ministerial-level meetings would be held in the future to negotiate territorial issues. As these vice-ministerial meetings have not yet been realized, a Japan-Russia Summit Meeting is scheduled during the G8 Summit once again. What do you expect from this Summit Meeting between the two countries?

Minister Kishida: In relation to your first question, as you pointed out, the U.S. Marines artillery live-fire training was previously conducted in Camp Hansen, Okinawa, with blocking Highway 104. Based on the SACO Final Report , artillery live-fire training is now relocated to maneuver areas on the mainland of Japan. The Yausubetsu Maneuver Area is among them. Japan as a whole must solidly continue to reduce the impact on Okinawa. In that context, live ammunition landed outside the maneuver area. We definitely think it necessary for the U.S. to introduce comprehensive preventive measures and be accountable for local people. I believe having such view is critical.

I have been saying that we will make further efforts especially through vice-ministerial-level meetings as a follow-up to the last Japan-Russia Summit Meeting. We will continue to engage in such coordination at various levels. In parallel, mutual communication between the leaders of the two countries is also vitally important. Japan and Russia have a critical bilateral relationship. Between both countries, there exist various challenges. I hope that bilateral communication will further develop at multiple levels and lead to steady progress.

Roles played by Kochi Kai

Kikuchi, Nippon TV: I have a question related to the future stance of Kochi Kai, which you talked about a moment ago. Kochi Kai has been taking a dovish position, shown in the attitude toward policies on constitution and security. Now the Abe Administration considers revising the constitution or changing the interpretation of the right to collective self-defense. Under such circumstances, will Kochi Kai stick to its traditional position and take a stance in which it responds to each matter carefully? Or will the faction become more flexible for the matters? I would like to hear from you what stance Kochi Kai will take on these kinds of issues in the future.

Minister Kishida: First of all, as I said a moment ago, members of Kochi Kai and I feel very proud of our history up until now. As for the position of Kochi Kai, overall circumstances have changed as time passes. In that situation, what positions will Kochi Kai take and what messages will we deliver? No matter what, we must lead the entire politics so that Japan can continue to play a major role for peace and prosperity in the international community in the future, while looking back the role we have played in Japan's economic growth and peace diplomacy after the World War II. We want to thoroughly play this role for the end.