Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 9:36 a.m. Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
(1) Three years after the Great East Japan Earthquake
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: Today, it has been three years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. I would like to pray for the souls of the victims to rest in peace and extend my sincere condolences to the bereaved families and those still in a difficult situation. Taking this opportunity, I express once again my heartfelt gratitude for warm assistance from countries and regions, including Operation Tomodachi by the U.S.
I will make continued efforts for reconstruction as the Foreign Minister. As for the damages caused by wrongful rumors about the nuclear accident, we have been continually urging other countries to ease or totally abolish import restrictions. In addition, we are working hard to wipe out those unfounded rumors by providing information on Japan’s reconstruction status from our Embassies and Consulate Generals abroad.
Moreover, at the occasion of the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held in disaster-hit Sendai City in March 2015, we intend to make active international contribution in the field of disaster prevention, sharing with the international community precious experience and other matters gained from past disasters.
(2) Global symposium on women
Minister Kishida: At some point between this summer and fall, we are planning to hold an international symposium in Japan with the attendance of female leaders from around the world. We will launch a preparatory team led by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato. I hope the symposium will further promote women’s active roles in Japan and abroad.
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki’s visit to ROK
Yamazaki, Fuji TV: It was announced that Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki would visit the Republic of Korea tomorrow to have a meeting with his counterpart. Please tell us your outlook for mending the relations going forward and your determination to do so?
Minister Kishida: Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Saiki is scheduled to visit the ROK on the 12th and 13th, and have a meeting with ROK’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. I do expect wide-ranging exchanges of views and thorough communication. As such, our two countries will steadily communicate at every level in every field and build on practical cooperation. By doing so, we will lead those efforts to high-level political communication. I intend to continue our efforts step by step.
Watanabe, NHK: In relation to the question just before this, Mr. Saiki’s visit follows that of the Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau. Do you have any expectations from the visit this time, including the outlook for your prospective meeting with the ROK Foreign Minister?
Minister Kishida: The ROK is an important neighbor. I am keenly aware that we must forge future-oriented relations from a broad perspective, overcoming difficult issues we face. Although a Foreign Ministers’ and other meetings have yet to be decided in specific terms, I intend to have high-level political communication after a series of communication at various levels. Through such communication, I would like to advance our important bilateral relations.
Damages caused by rumors about the nuclear accident
Takagi, Kyodo Press: At the outset, you mentioned the damages caused by rumors about the nuclear accident. Three years have passed, and yet 40 countries and regions impose import restrictions on Japanese agricultural and marine produce. Please tell us your view on that and what specific efforts will be made.
Minister Kishida: To this date, as for the damages caused by rumors, we have strived, in cooperation with relevant government agencies, to gather information on the current situation of import restrictions by each country and continued to provide accurate information on Japan’s actual situation based on scientific grounds. We have disseminated information using our foreign missions and other organizations worldwide. This resulted in the abolition of import restrictions in 13 countries, and the EU has eased its restrictions.
We do need to continue our efforts. In this respect, under my leadership, last December we established the headquarters of the Promotion of Support for Japanese Businesses inside MOFA. At the headquarters, we will certainly raise the issue of the damages caused by rumors, discuss it and take specific measures. We will address this issue that way.
Right to collective self-defense
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: A new organization to discuss the exercise of the right to collective self-defense will be set up in the Liberal Democratic Party. With respect to the discussion being held on the premise of approval, some are taking a cautious stance mainly in the House of Councillors. What are your views?
Minister Kishida: Currently, the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security has been discussing the relationship between the right to collective self-defense and the Constitution. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been reiterating that the issue will be discussed in a careful manner even after the Panel releases a report. I believe that the discussion will go on in accordance with the Prime Minister’s policy as such.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: At the Cabinet level, Minister of Justice Sadakazu Tanigaki insists that nationwide understanding be necessary. Do you reckon that the discussion is better to be conducted more carefully?
Minister Kishida: The discussion is at the stage of being discussed at the Advisory Panel. Regarding what discussion will follow after the release of a report, the Prime Minister reiterates that he will bear in mind to hold careful discussion. As a Cabinet member, I believe that we need to have careful discussion.
Watanabe, NHK: At a press conference on the 6th, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki positively evaluated Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s remark that the Kono Statement would not be revised. What do you think about the U.S. perception? You may also agree that the Statement will not be revised, though.
Minister Kishida: Of course, the Kono Statement will not be revised. I am aware that this is the stance of the Cabinet, as clearly stated by the Chief Cabinet Secretary. We need to provide thorough and detailed explanations to the international community on Japan’s recognition of history and our stance on foreign policy. MOFA will work hard to make Japan’s position properly understood.
Japan-North Korea Talks
Nakamura, Nippon TV: In respect to the informal Japan-DPRK director-level discussion held in Shenyang on March 3, it is reported that the Japanese side proposed a resumption of bilateral Director-General-level talks. Is that true?
Minister Kishida: During the informal talks held on the sidelines of the Japan-DPRK Red Cross Talks, the Japanese side conveyed its understanding of problems involved to the DPRK side. I will refrain from making any specific comments. However, I am unaware that any concrete schedules have been set.
Situation in Ukraine
Watanabe, NHK: Regarding Ukraine, some countries have started moving to impose sanctions on Russia. At this point, is the Government of Japan considering any sanctions?
Minister Kishida: We will respond appropriately, closely watching the situation in Ukraine as well as moves of other countries.