Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko
Friday, September 29, 2023, 2:27 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Dissemination of Japanese Culture
Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs: It has been two weeks since I took office as foreign minister. Diplomacy moves non-stop. My meetings and messaging on the margins of last week’s United Nations General Assembly session are being followed up on, and they have generated positive responses and messages from various countries at an extremely fast pace. As foreign minister, I will strive for proactive and swift messaging in addressing various issues.
I would also like to share something great that happened. During the Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in New York, Foreign Minister Colonna drank some of the Japanese tea I brought and expressed great interest in it, making me realize that Japanese tea can play a diplomatic role as a symbol of Japanese culture. I had heard that new initiatives are under way to introduce Japanese tea in France, so it was timely event. I will actively continue such efforts to disseminate Japanese culture.
That is all from me.
Situation in North Korea (Contact between Japan and North Korea)
NHK, Igarashi: I have a question related to North Korea. According to some reports, officials from the Government of Japan twice had contact with officials from North Korea’s Workers’ Party of Korea, in March and May of this year, in Southeast Asia. Are these reports true? What arrangements is the government making for a Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting for resolving the abductions issue?
Minister Kamikawa: We are aware of the referred reports. However, due to the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on the details.
In any case, the abduction of Japanese nationals, an issue whose resolution has time constraints, is a human rights issue about which we cannot let our mindfulness dwindle for even a moment, as the families of the victims continue to age.
We will continue to do our utmost to fully and boldly tackle the issue to realize the return of all the abductees to Japan at the earliest possible date.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Statement
Kyodo News, Katsurada: I have a question on the Japan-ROK Joint Statement. October 8 will mark 25 years since the 1998 Japan-ROK Joint Statement was issued. Could you explain again the statement’s significance and the role it has played in the bilateral relationship? Please also share with us your expectations for the relationship in the future.
Minister Kamikawa: The Japan-ROK Joint Statement issued on October 8, 1998, by then Prime Minister Obuchi and President Kim Dae Jung, has played a major role in building a future-oriented relationship.
Japan and the ROK are important neighboring countries that should cooperate with each other as partners in dealing with various issues facing the international community. Considering the severe security environment, close cooperation between the two countries has never been more necessary than it is now.
I will work to foster even firmer and wider-ranging Japan-ROK cooperation, building on the efforts made by my predecessors who have overcome challenging times, including the leaders who issued the statement.
Situation in North Korea (Nuclear Force Policy)
Asahi Shimbun, Matsuyama: My question regards North Korea. The Supreme People’s Assembly that was held from September 26 to 27 approved specifying North Korea’s nuclear force policy in the Constitution. Furthermore, the amendments include developing more advanced nuclear capabilities. Kim Jong-un indicated that North Korea would strengthen solidarity with anti-West countries, and condemned Japan, the United States, and the ROK as the greatest threat to North Korea. I heard that a Japan-U.S.-ROK Director-General-level telephone talk was held yesterday. What was discussed about this matter? In addition, could you tell us how you intend to deal with North Korea?
Minister Kamikawa: We constantly strive to gather and analyze information with serious concern about North Korea’s moves, including what you pointed out. However, I will refrain from commenting on each move in detail.
In any case, the development of nuclear weapons and missiles by North Korea threatens the peace and security of Japan and the international community, and is absolutely unacceptable.
Yesterday, Mr. Namazu, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, held a telephone talk with his U.S. and ROK counterparts.
While ensuring the full implementation of the relevant UNSC resolutions by the international community, we will continue to work towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea, cooperating with the international community, including the United States and ROK.
Use of Japanese Components in Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Mainichi Shimbun, Kawaguchi: I have a question related to the progress of the war in Ukraine. A document sent by Ukraine to the G7 members reportedly states that Iranian drones shot down by Ukraine contained some components made in Japan. This document was allegedly sent to the G7 governments in August. Please tell us what the Government of Japan knows about this matter. It may be difficult to restrict exports from Japan if the parts are commercial components. How does the Government intend to deal with this matter?
Minister Kamikawa: We are aware that the document reportedly states that electronic components made by Japanese and Western companies were found in Iran-made unmanned aerial vehicles. However, I would like to refrain from discussing diplomatic communication.
That being said, to prevent diversion of Japanese exports of goods and technologies into military use and to maintain peace and security in the international community, Japan stipulates regulated items and conducts export controls under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act.
Japan has and will continue to call on Iran to play a constructive role in the situation in Ukraine, seizing all opportunities, including the recent Japan-Iran Summit Meeting.
ALPS Treated Water (Possibility of Import Restrictions by Russia on Aquatic Products Originating in Japan)
Jiji Press, Ueda: I have a question on ALPS treated water. In response to its discharge of treated water into the sea, the Russian quarantine authorities announced that it is considering restricting imports of aquatic products originating in Japan. It has asked Japan to provide information on the testing method and said it will make its final decision after discussing with Japan. What are your thoughts and how will Japan respond to this?
Minister Kamikawa: We are aware of the announcement by the Government of Russia.
The Government of Japan has repeatedly provided the international community, including Russia, with scientifically based explanations on the safety of ALPS treated water. Japan has also undergone IAEA reviews conducted by international experts, including Russian experts. Furthermore, Japan has provided detailed responses and explanations to the concerns contained in the feedback from Russia and China.
We will continue to provide detailed explanations to the international community in a highly transparent manner at all levels on various occasions. In addition, we will continue to urge for measures based on scientific evidence.