Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 11:11 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Visit to the Middle East

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida:  From July 23 through 27, I visited Israel, Palestine and Jordan. I held meetings with many key persons, attended the  Ministerial-Level Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity initiative for the first time in five years, and visited a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, making it a very substantial visit. I believe that the Government of Japan was able to demonstrate both domestically and internationally its proactive stance toward stability in the Middle East regions.

In particular, in the light of the positive developments resulting from the efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and others toward the Middle East peace process, I directly called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides to make sincere efforts toward the resumption of peace negotiations, and received positive responses from both sides. Indeed, both sides resumed negotiations yesterday, on July 29, and Japan welcomes this development. The Government of Japan continues to provide support on political and economic fronts to ensure meaningful progress in the peace process. This will also boost the efforts by the U.S., led by State Secretary Kerry, and is also significant from the perspective of US-Japan relations.

Japan-China relations

Ohtani, NHK: Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki has been visiting China since yesterday. I believe that this is the first visit to China by a working-level official since Mr. Saiki assumed his current post. What do you hope to achieve through this visit? Also, how do you interpret China’s acceptance of the Vice-Minister’s visit to China? Do you recognize it as a sign that China has opened up opportunities for dialogue or do you see any sort of change in China’s attitude?  
Minister Kishida: Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Saiki is visiting China on the 29th and 30th and is expected to exchange views with Chinese officials. As to what they will cover, I believe they will discuss Japan-China relations as a whole. I expect to be briefed on the details after he has returned to Japan.
The Japan-China relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships to Japan. I have always said that Japan should pursue a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests with China from a broad perspective, and that it has kept the door for dialogue open. I believe it is important to maintain communication at a variety of levels. Japan continues to build on these efforts.

Deployment of the Osprey in Japan

Yamagishi, Asahi Shimbun: I would like to ask about the Osprey. Today, an additional batch of the Osprey are landing at Air Station Iwakuni, and they are expected to be moved to Air Station Futenma in the near future.
Once again, what are your thoughts regarding the necessity of this additional deployment for Air Station Futenma? I believe that you have been directly approached by the Okinawa Prefecture side regarding flights violating Japan-U.S. Joint Committee agreements. How would you respond to this? The Governor of Okinawa has also directly approached and you mentioned that the Ministry of Defense was currently examining this matter. What is your outlook on this topic?
Minister Kishida: It is my understanding that a transport ship carrying twelve MV-22 Ospreys arrived at Air Station Iwakuni today at around 7:00 a.m. First of all, people in Okinawa and other local residents are continuing to turn a severe eye on such development, and some of them have mentioned that agreements reached at the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee are possibly not being maintained. I am fully aware of this, and I am taking this matter very seriously.
On behalf of the Government of Japan, I continue to offer thorough explanations about the safety of the Osprey and, furthermore, the significance of its deployment in Japan with regard to security. As for the relevant Japan-U.S. Joint Committee agreements, I will hold necessary discussions with the U.S. so that what has been agreed is implemented appropriately. I also plan to thoroughly examine this matter with the U.S. so that flight training is carried out at locations outside of Okinawa.
As for the matters brought up by Okinawa that you pointed out, i.e. the prefecture has stated that there may be 318 violations of the Japan-US Joint Committee agreements, operations to confirm these are currently being carried out. We are quickly carrying out this work, and once it has been completed, we will give an official response to Okinawa Prefecture.

Deployment of the Osprey in Japan and Japan-China relations

Ohtani, NHK: I would like to ask two short questions. On the topic of the Osprey, I learned that the U.S. Pacific Air Forces Commander stated that he was also considering its deployment in the Yokota Air Base. Has the Government of Japan received a notification to this effect? My second question is on Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki: have you specifically received any reports on whom he has already met, such as Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui? 
Minister Kishida: In response to your first question—I think you mean the CV-22—at the current time, there have not been any notifications concerning any deployment in Japan. The Government of Japan is not aware of any notifications of that kind. The U.S. has not made any decisions on the deployment of the CV-22 Osprey in Japan. That’s what I understand.
As for the visit by Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki, and with whom he has met at this point in time, I would like to refrain from making any comments vis-à-vis the Chinese side. I plan to wait until he returns to Japan and gives his reports, and then I will thoroughly confirm the situation.

Japan-China relations

Fujikawa, TV Asahi: I have a question regarding Japan-China relations. On the 28th, Special Advisor to the Cabinet Isao Iijima expressed his view that a Japan-China summit meeting would be realized in the not-so-distant future. What do you think about this outlook?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the statement that you pointed out. However, I believe Special Advisor Iijima expressed his personal opinion in that statement, so I would like to refrain from commenting on each and every one of such statements. As I stated a short while ago, Japan-China relations is one of the most important bilateral relationships to Japan. Japan is always open to such a dialogue. We would like to positively consider any kinds of dialogues.

Deployment of the Osprey in Japan

Matsudo, Ryukyu Shimpo: I would like to ask a question about the Osprey. I think that when Governor Hirokazu Nakaima of Okinawa Prefecture met with you on July 8, he asked for abandoning the deployment of the Osprey. At that time, you told Governor Nakaima that you give him a thorough and specific response. Did you give Governor Nakaima a specific response before the recent deployment? Also, could you please make a comment about the fact that the U.S. military logistics took the ultimate precedenceover the concerns of the citizens?
Minister Kishida: Firstly, as for whether I gave a response to Governor Nakaima, I believe the answer I gave to him was as follows: At the end of last year, the prefecture pointed out 318 possible violations of Japan-U.S.Joint Committee agreements, and so the Government should give a thorough response with regard to this matter. The Government is working on it. I remember that the point of my response to him was that the Government should give a response to this matter. As I mentioned earlier, the work is still underway, and so as soon as it is completed, we intend to give a response. We are hoping to give an answer in the not-so-distant future. 

Regarding the deployment of the Osprey, I believe that there is no doubt that we must give a top priority to the safety of the people of Okinawa Prefecture. I will continue to make efforts to give thorough explanations regarding the safety of the Osprey deployment and its significance for security.

Japan-China relations

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to return once again to the subject of Japan-China relations. May I confirm with you whether or not the Abe administration wishes to hold a summit-level dialogue between the leaders of Japan and China on the earliest possible date?
Minister Kishida: We believe it is no doubt important to maintain communication and hold dialogues at a variety of levels, including a high political level. At present, Japan and China are building on dialogues at a variety of levels on a variety of specific issues. While building on these dialogues, it is indeed important to maintain communication between the leaders. We will therefore make efforts to realize such a dialogue or meeting.
Back to Press Conferences