Press Conference by Deputy Press Secretary Naoko Saiki
Thursday, June 6, 2013, 1:30 p.m.   Briefing Room No. 381

Deputy Press Secretary Ms. Naoko Saiki: Good afternoon everyone. Let me begin by touching upon several issues before I take questions.

Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development

Ms. Saiki: First, on the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development. TICAD V was held from June 1 to 3 in Yokohama. Delegations of Japan and 51 African countries, including 40 heads of state and government, together with representatives of 35 other partner countries, 74 international and regional organizations from both Africa and Asia, the private sector and civil society participated. The total number of attendants was over 4,500. As outcome documents, the Yokohama Declaration 2013 “Hand in Hand with a More Dynamic Africa” and the Yokohama Action Plan 2013-2017 were issued. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a keynote speech at the beginning of the conference in which he explained Japan’s basic policy of assistance for Africa and Japan’s 3.2 trillion yen assistance package, including the Abe initiative to foster business-savvy individuals. In the margins of TICAD V, Prime Minister Abe held 56 summit meetings, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida held 22 foreign ministerial meetings as well as hosted a luncheon meeting with heads of participating international organizations.

Arms Trade Treaty

Ms. Saiki: Second, on the Arms Trade Treaty, ATT. On June 3 (local time) at the New York headquarters of the United Nations, Japan signed the Arms Trade Treaty. The ATT aims to contribute to international and regional peace and security and to prevent the illicit trade in conventional arms by establishing the highest common international standards to regulate the transfer of conventional arms. Japan has always advocated the necessity of an Arms Trade Treaty. In negotiations as well, Japan played an active and constructive role as one of the co-authors of the UN General Assembly Resolution on the Treaty and the Vice President elected from the Asia Pacific Group, and contributed greatly to the success of negotiations. We will continue to take a leading role in promoting international efforts in this area.

400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain relations

Ms. Saiki: Third, on the 400th anniversary of Japan-Spain relations. On June 5, Ms. Keiko Takeshita and Mr. Teruo Sekiguchi were appointed as Goodwill Ambassador. It is expected that the two Goodwill Ambassadors’ activities will contribute to further deepening the friendly and cooperative bilateral relations between Japan and Spain, and promoting various events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Japan-Spain relations.

Decision regarding the Construction of housing units for Jewish people in East Jerusalem

Ms. Saiki: Fourth, on the decision regarding the construction of housing units for Jewish people in East Jerusalem. The Government of Japan deeply deplores that, according to information, the Israeli government has signed a contract for plans to construct 300 new housing units in Ramot and has announced new sales of 797 plots in Gilo in East Jerusalem. The Israeli government continues its plan for settlement construction and accelerates such acts in recent days, at a time when the international community is making its utmost efforts to resume direct negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This clearly goes against the ongoing efforts by the international community toward realizing a two-state solution. Settlement activities are a violation of international law, and Japan has repeatedly called upon Israel to fully freeze settlement activities. The Government of Japan strongly calls upon Israel to refrain from any unilateral act that changes the current status of East Jerusalem and to desist from implementing the plans of construction for the sake of progress in the peace process.

With these initial announcements, I would be happy to take questions.

Questions concerning the US-China summit meeting

Q: Will you comment on the US-China summit meeting that is scheduled to begin today or tomorrow?

Ms. Saiki: Thank you for the question. But I am afraid I am not in a position to make comments on what has not taken place yet.

Questions concerning the Senkaku Islands

Q: What’s currently attracting attention is whether the two leaders will discuss the issue of the Senkaku Islands at their first summit meeting. How does Japan view this?

Ms. Saiki: Thank you. The position of the Japanese government with respect to the Senkaku Islands has been clear. There is no doubt that the Senkaku Islands are a part of Japan’s inherent territory. Furthermore, we have maintained the valid control over the Islands for a very long time. This position is well understood by the US government, and as everyone here knows, the US government has made it abundantly clear that when and if the Senkaku Islands are attacked by force, Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty will be invoked and consequently the United States will join in efforts to protect Japan’s land, namely the Senkaku Islands.

Q: Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka visited China and stated that there in fact was a “shelving” of the Senkaku Islands issue during the talks for the normalization of Japan-China diplomatic relations in the 1970s. I am aware that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga and also Foreign Minister Kishida have already denied this, but are there any plans to disclose additional diplomatic documents? For quite some time now the Chinese side has been asserting that there was a shelving of the issue, and Japan has said there wasn’t. As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, do you plan to disclose relevant diplomatic documents?

Ms. Saiki: In fact, with respect to the diplomatic documents concerning the Senkaku Islands in the context of bilateral talks between Japan and the PRC towards normalization of diplomatic relations, we have already made them public. And according to those diplomatic documents available to the public at present, it is clear that Japan never recognized the existence of an issue to be resolved on the territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, and that there has never been an agreement with the Chinese side about so-called “shelving” or “maintaining the status quo” regarding the Senkaku Islands.

We understand that Mr. Nonaka was visiting China in his personal capacity, and the government will not comment on statements made by private citizens, including Mr. Nonaka.

Unless there are more questions, I will conclude today’s conference. Thank you for coming.