Press Conferences

Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki

Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 3:46 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Russia’s Deployment of Missiles to the Northern Territories

Mainichi Shimbun, TADOKORO: I would like to ask about Russia and the Northern Territories. There are reports that the Russian military deployed surface-to-air missiles to Etorofu Island, which Russia considers to be part of the Kurile Islands. Please tell us your view about this, as well as whether the Government of Japan is responding, such as through a protest or inquiry.

Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: I believe your question referred to the reports that Russia deployed S-300V4 surface-to-air missiles systems to Etorofu Island. Japan constantly monitors the Russian military’s movements concerning the Northern Territories, and diligently conducts information-gathering. This current movement is the Russian military strengthening its armaments in the Northern Territories, and is completely inconsistent with Japan’s position that the Four Northern Islands are inherent territories of Japan. Accordingly, Japan issued a protest to Russia yesterday, December 1.

Mainichi Shimbun, TADOKORO: Can you please tell us the content of the protest as well as the route, such as from Tokyo to Moscow?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: As I stated before, the content was that this movement is inconsistent with Japan’s position and is unacceptable. The protest route was from a diplomat at the Japanese embassy in Russia to a Deputy Minister of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Comfort Woman Statue in Berlin (Decision by the Mitte District Council)

Sankei Shimbun, ISHINABE: I would like to ask about the comfort woman statue installed in the Mitte District of Berlin. The district council adopted a resolution to permanently install the comfort woman statue. Can you please tell us MOFA’s reaction and response?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: It is my understanding that at its council meeting on December 1, the council of the Mitte District in Berlin approved the motion requesting to maintain the comfort woman statue installed in the district. In regard to the movements in the Mitte District, we have been diligently explaining Japan’s position to the people concerned in the district, including the council, since the decision by the district mayor to order the removal of the comfort woman statue.

The approval of the motion is inconsistent with the Government of Japan’s position which we have been explaining thus far and our efforts. I believe it is extremely regrettable. Regarding whether the content of the motion itself indicates the permanent installation of the statue, I believe that is not necessarily the case. In any event, regarding movements in the Mitte District, there is no change to our position of seeking the statue’s removal as we continue to approach the people concerned and earnestly explain the Government of Japan’s position with a sense of urgency.

Statements Regarding the Senkaku Islands Issue (Issuance of a Resolution from the Foreign Affairs Division of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to Foreign Minister Motegi)

Asahi Shimbun, ABE: In regard to the statement concerning the Senkaku Islands by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi that was discussed last week, yesterday the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division and others issued a resolution to Foreign Minister Motegi that he should strongly protest such statements. Foreign Minister Motegi stated that he took this seriously. Through now, Foreign Minister Motegi and you have stated that such statements regarding the Senkaku Islands are completely unacceptable. Can you please tell us your recognition on whether further response is necessary?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: The resolution by the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division was received yesterday. We take this seriously. Although I will not repeat the detailed content, as I explained in my press conference last week, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang’s statement concerning the Senkaku Islands was based on China’s view and position and is unacceptable.

Also, as Foreign Minister Motegi explained, he again properly emphasized Japan’s position during the working dinner following the joint press conference. We have been taking every opportunity at various levels thus far to clearly convey Japan’s position to China and request China to take action regarding this issue. There is no change to the fact that we will continue such efforts. Due to the view expressed by the LDP, we will continue to take the appropriate opportunities to thoroughly convey Japan’s position.

Format for Announcing Results of Foreign Ministers’ Meetings

Asahi Shimbun, ABE: In relation to this, I would like to ask about the method of announcing the results of foreign ministers’ meetings. In the form of the joint press announcement used recently for the foreign ministers’ meeting with China, there was no question and answer session between reporters and Foreign Minister Motegi. On the other hand, when Foreign Minister Motegi visited Mongolia, there was a question and answer session held online in addition to a joint press announcement. There are also other cases of joint press conferences being held in the past. What standards have been set for deciding the method of announcing results?

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: In regard to your question about methods for announcing and conveying results of foreign ministers’ meetings, as was just explained, there are various means of doing so. Sometimes this is done in intervals during meetings, and sometimes it is after all the events have finished. Also, depending on the situation, there is a press release in written form rather than a press conference or announcement. There are not necessarily any clear standards or rules about the method. The format is decided through communication between both sides on the most appropriate method of conveying the content of the meeting and other such matters to the international community. Also, the decision is made by taking into consideration logistics such as the location of the meeting, the time period, access by reporters, and other such matters. In any event, we aim to use what is considered the most effective communication method at the time to convey the results.

Host Nation Support (HNS) for the U.S. Forces Japan

Asahi Shimbun, ABE: I would like to ask another question on a different subject. Currently, the negotiations on HNS are continuing with the United States. I believe that use of the term omoiyari yosan (sympathy budget) has been spreading generally. Does MOFA believe that the term omoiyari yosan is appropriate? Please tell us your recognition on this matter.

Press Secretary YOSHIDA: I believe you are asking about HNS for the U.S. Forces Japan. MOFA and the Government of Japan have been using the English term “Host Nation Support” as well as the Japanese term Zainichi Beigun churyu keihi meaning “stationing costs for the U.S. Forces Japan” thus far. I know there are various details regarding popular use of the term omoiyari yosan, but we do not use that term.

In regard to your question about my thoughts on this matter, I believe there has not been a decision on the official approach to this. The U.S. Forces Japan is essential for Japan’s security as well as regional peace and security. HNS for the U.S. Forces Japan was originally decided in principle by the Status of Forces Agreement, and the approach to the cost burden is also based on the additional stipulations of the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) taking various circumstances into consideration.

As I just stated, the U.S. Forces Japan have played an extremely important role for Japan’s peace and security, and at the same time for the peace and security of the region and the Asia-Pacific. It is positioned under the premise that Japan and the United States will cooperate on responses. Accordingly, I believe this is not a relationship of one side needing to provide “sympathy” or “consideration” to the other side, or one side having a debt to the other side.

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