Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida

Friday, August 2, 2013, 10:31 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening Remarks

(1) Trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Foreign Minister Kishida: Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make one announcement at the outset. I will be attending the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony to be held in the city of Hiroshima on the 6th of August and also the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony to be held in the city of Nagasaki on the 9th of August. I will also be holding the Commissioning Ceremony for appointing students from Nagasaki as the Youth Communicator for a World Without Nuclear Weapons. I understand that this is the first time that a Foreign Minister will be attending the Peace Memorial Ceremonies in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As the Foreign Minister from Hiroshima, I would like to firmly take the responsibility of communicating the catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to future generations.

Deputy Prime Minister Aso's remarks on Nazi regime

Yamagishi, Asahi Shimubun: A question on Deputy Prime Minister Aso’s statement on the Nazis. Foreign Minister, what is your reaction to his remarks, what points do you think are problematic and what may be the impact on the international community especially on Japan-U.S. relations?
Foreign Minister Kishida: First of all with regard to Deputy Prime Minister Aso’s comments, he has explained his intentions and he also issued a retraction of his statement. He himself has and will explain the substance of his comments and the retraction of his remarks. If I have anything to say from my position, I would say that I will make efforts so that this kind of comment will not become a problem in foreign policy or diplomatic relationships. from happening.
We have constantly been endeavoring to establish a society that protects human rights and contributes to the international community ever since the end of World War II and our policy of such remains unchanged. We will continue to explain our position as such and the same applies to our relationship with the U.S.

Visit to the Yasukuni Shrine

Kamiide Freelance: I have a related question. It’s a problem you cannot dismiss as saying that it is Mr. Aso’s personal comments. On August 15th, if a cabinet member is to visit the Yasukuni Shirne, and I’m sure that Mr. Aso will not visit but there are concerns that this could become a major political problem.
Maybe this question should be asked to the Prime Minister but Minister Kishida, you mentioned that Japan has been upholding that policy and you said that you need to continue to explain especially to the U.S. Even if one cabinet member visits the Yasukuni Shrine, that could become a major problem for the whole world, not just China or South Korea. What’s your view on this? I don’t think this could be dismissed as something personal. Don’t you think political judgment is necessary?
Foreign Minister Kishida: First of all those people who have sacrificed their lives for the country, we must pay respect to those people. That is something very important. And Japan consistently has made efforts to build a peace loving nation and we have consistently contributed to the international society by building a society that protects peace and human rights. And we need to convey firmly to the Japanese people and also to explain in detail our position and efforts to the international community. As for hypothetical questions and individual issues I will refrain from commenting.

Trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: On the 6th and 9th of August, you stated that you will be attending the Peace Memorial Ceremonies and I understand that the Prime Minister will also be attending. After the Ceremonies, there’s a practice for the Prime Minister to hold a meeting with the victims of the atomic bombing. From the perspective of hearing about diplomacy for a nuclear free world, they have been requesting for your presence there, what is your response?
Foreign Minister Kishida: Your question is whether I will be attending the session for exchanging views following the ceremony. I’ve already decided to participate in the ceremony which will take place on the 6th of August and that has been announced. As for other itineraries, it is under coordination.

Additional deployment of the Osprey

Toyama, Ryukyu Shinpo: The U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa will fly four Ospreys to Okinawa and they say that this would be announced some time this afternoon and this has been communicated by the Defense Authority to Ginowan City and Okinawa prefecture. But as the Governor has said, they are strongly asking for the suspension of the deployment. What is you view on the deployment and if it has gone ahead, how will you obtain the understanding of the Okinawa people? The other day the Ministry of Defense has, there has been a request to check the 318 violations of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee agreement on operations of the Osprey. The MOD has made comments that there could be some points that it would be difficult to confirm; that they would not be able to confirm. Okinawa prefecture will most likely be asking the central government to revisit this issue and verify whether violations have taken place. But do you think that a conclusion could be reached that the central government could not find the evidence showing violations? What are your plans with regards to future plans for verifications?
Foreign Minister Kishida: First of all on the question of Osprey, in the local community, there are strong criticisms, I am fully aware of that. We need to acknowledge those criticisms. Now having said so, the safety as well as for the significance with regard to security should be in detail consistently explained to the local community. And in that process the position and stance of the Government on the Osprey issue should be maintained. As to the studies on the Osprey, that there could be some cases of possible violation of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee agreement, has been pointed out by the local community. On the issue, the Government of Japan would like to sincerely make efforts to try to grasp the facts, the accurate situation. There has been assertion made that various efforts should be made to clarify the actual situation. Yes, we are aware of that and I would like to continue to place importance on our stance. But to try to seek different ways to grasp the actual situation, we should continue to make efforts to have solid relationships with the local community based on trust and confidence.

Director-General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau

Fujikawa, TV Asahi: To the head of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, the Government has chosen Ambassador Komatsu, the current Ambassador to France, which is quite unusual. What are your thoughts on this?
Foreign Minister Kishida: That point has made headlines and to that extent I am aware of it. But this is an issue related to personnel matters and at this timing I would like to refrain from making any comments.

Visit to the Yasukuni Shrine

Yamagishi, Asahi Shimbun: This is a related question to Yasukuni Shrine. On the 15th of August or in the days neighboring that date, do you have any plans to visit the Shrine?
Foreign Minister Kishida: As a member of the Abe administration and as the Foreign Minister, I intend to act appropriately.

Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Nakanishi, Nishinippon Shimbun: On the Peace Memorial Ceremony, you have explained that you’ll be attending in both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In April this year at the preparatory meeting for the NPT review, you did not sign the Joint Statement which was to never ever use nuclear weapons. In the local community, they have concerns and criticisms that Japan may use nuclear weapons in the future. It could also send a negative message to the international community. It may be included in Nagasaki’s Peace Declaration. So Minister, if you could once again explain why the Government of Japan did not sign the Joint Statement or your personal thoughts please.
Foreign Minister Kishida: First of all, nuclear disarmament for a world without nuclear weapons, that is the objective and the basic stance. On the 29th of July, Hiroshima prefecture hosted the Hiroshima Roundtable where I made a speech. I shared our basic stance. There are two recognitions that serve as the basis of our nuclear disarmament. First of all we are the only country on this planet that has suffered atomic bombings. We are aware of the tragedies of nuclear weapons as we are best positioned to be aware of the difficulties and tragedies. With regard to impacts of the use of nuclear weapons, we must continue to communicate the accurate and precise recognition to the international community. So that’s the first point. The second recognition is that in reality in East Asia, Japan is faced with North Korea as well as the rising nuclear risk. Diversifying nuclear risks is being faced by Japan in this context. In order to protect the lives, assets, the freedom of our people, Japan must continue to make efforts, so these objective recognition in terms of security is the second recognition and therefore accurate and objective recognition will have to be placed as the platform. There is no paradox. There is no either or. There is no incompatibility. It must be pursued together. In order to pursue these two notions, we must make realistic and implementable approaches. It is the NPT and NPDI that will serve as the actual measures to be implemented as international frameworks. In that context, more specifically as far as the nuclear issue is concerned, transparency must be upgraded and that should be the goal at which we must be making efforts. That is the position of Japan. That position of Japan versus the Joint Statement, most recently, until the last minute, the Government of Japan had been making efforts to participate in the Joint Statement. Humanitarian issues pertaining to nuclear weapons not just the immediate damage but the multi-generation wide, society wide damage is caused and that recognition is shared between the countries that participated in the Joint Statement and Japan. But we had run out of time, and it was not possible for Japan to participate, which we regret. The participating countries and Japan share an ultimate goal to pursue a world without nuclear weapons. Therefore, we will continue to make efforts to enable participation in the Joint Statement and this Joint Statement was driven by for example South Africa, New Zealand and Malaysia. The other day even when I visited New Zealand most recently, with the Minister of New Zealand, I communicated the mindset and the philosophy of Japan. I had taken that issue up voluntarily and I told him that we would like to seek his cooperation. Also when I met with Foreign Minister Aman of Malaysia, I made a comment along a similar line. As we endeavor to create a world without nuclear weapons, which is a goal that we all share, I hope to communicate and cooperate with many countries as we strive together towards that goal. Domestically, on frequent occasions, I have been explaining our position as such. We should continue to solicit understanding on our position and we need to solicit the understanding of the avenue that we would be pursuing.

Japan-China relations

Mizuuchi, Sankei Shimbun: A few days ago, Vice Minister Saiki visited China and I think you have been briefed. After being briefed, frankly speaking, what is your impression of the attitude of the Chinese government? Upon being briefed, what are the prospects of higher level consultations?
Foreign Minister Kishida: Vice Minister Saiki recently visited China and met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other high ranking officials. I understand that they had such meetings and that the exchange of views on various issues were made, which were quite important for both countries. We should continue to have solid dialogue and exchange of views going forward. I have stated that in various areas and sectors we need to have solid communication between our two nations and to have these communications to lead to higher level communications.

Japan-ROK relations

Saito, Kyodo News: Soon it will be one year since the former President Lee of South Korea landed on Takeshima and ever since there has been strains between South Korea and Japan in bilateral relations. Even thought Japan has consistently made efforts to approach South Korea, it seems that no improvement has been seen in the bilateral relations. Why is it that we do not see any improvements and how will you respond going forward?
Foreign Minister Kishida: First of all, needless to say, ROK is a county with which we share fundament values and common interests. Takeshima is an issue that cannot be solved overnight. But peaceful resolution is being sought by the Government and we will continue to persistently make efforts in terms of diplomacy in order to bring this a solution. There are difficult issues between Japan and ROK but every year 5.5 million people travel between our two countries. There are very strong people to people exchanges. In July there was the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministerial meeting and Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ meeting was also conducted. There were two rounds of senior officials meeting between the Vice Ministers of Japan and ROK. So most recently, we have been conducting frequent exchange of views to enhance communications. The overall outlook, we would like to focus on the future to promote the bilateral relationship.
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