Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 11:03 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: Good morning. This is the first press conference in 2014. I am pleased that members of the Kasumi Club and press conference attendees have welcomed the new year in good shape. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone for the past year. I am looking forward to working with you this year as well. There are no opening remarks from myself today. I welcome any questions.
Japan-China and Japan-ROK relations
Saito, Kyodo Press: I have a general question. As for Japan-China relations, you must be well aware that the Chinese Government and media have repeatedly and in various forms taken words and actions questioning Japan’s recognition of history in response to Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine. My question is on China’s repeated reference that the Abe Administration is glorifying the war of aggression. This phrase has been reiterated. What is your view on this and how will you rebut this?
Minister Kishida: Of course, through media and others, I am aware of China’s various moves on Japan’s recognition of history. As I have repeatedly mentioned, the entire position outlined by previous administrations is continued by the Abe Cabinet. We have been explaining Japan’s stance on recognition of history to China repeatedly on various occasions. Looking at the current situation, we must continue to steadily, sincerely provide explanations in a persistent manner. In addition, I strongly feel politically high-level dialogue is important all the more because of the wide-ranging controversies and issues. I do intend to continue to carefully explain Japan’s recognition of history, and in relation to that, I hope to realize politically high-level dialogue at an early point. As I have reiterated heretofore, the door for dialogue is open. I truly hope the Chinese side will respond to this.
Saito, Kyodo Press: I have an additional question. You just mentioned that the past governments’ recognition of history is continued by the Abe Administration. Will you elaborate on China’s remark that the Abe Cabinet is beautifying the war of aggression, further, on whether the past Sino-Japanese War was a war of aggression in the first place, and whether the Abe Cabinet beautifies it?
Minister Kishida: As I have mentioned, the entire position outlined by previous administrations is continued by the Abe Cabinet. In addition, the Abe Cabinet has never denied statements issued by the past Cabinets, for instance the Kono Statement and Murayama Statement. As such, the Abe Cabinet’s recognition of history remains the same as former Cabinets and I have repeatedly explained so. If China doubts this point, I believe the only way is to continue providing explanations in a careful manner.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: On your comment just now that the door for dialogue is always open, Prime Minister Abe has been repeating this remark since last year. Japan has been just commenting as so and no actions have been taken. This year, in addition to the door being open, showing an attitude to calling for dialogue somewhat more -- or, I feel that the door is slightly closed due to Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine. What are your views?
Minister Kishida: As I have mentioned on many occasions, dialogue is important all the more because of these individual issues. In addition to explaining that to China and other counterparts, we must give proper explanations on Japan’s view and stance to relevant surrounding nations. As such, we have worked earnestly since last year. We have strived to thoroughly explain Japan’s stance that our country places importance on dialogue not only to relevant parties but also to the region and the entire international community, whereby enlisting cooperation in preparing an environment where dialogue will be realized. Through continuing these efforts, we must work hard to concretely realize dialogue with our important neighbors, such as China and the ROK, and to open dialogue at politically high-levels, including summit meetings.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: Don’t you view that the door for dialogue is slightly closed due to Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine?
Minister Kishida: With respect to Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine, the Prime Minister has clarified his true intent in his Statement and others. We have been properly explaining his intent and belief. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and myself as the Foreign Minister must work hard to properly convey the Prime Minister’s true intention to China, the ROK and other relevant countries. We have expressed that the issue should not be politicized or be turned into a diplomatic issue, and strive to prevent any consequences.
Kamiide, Freelance: In relation to the same question, apart from the use of the term the war of aggression, you stated that the past Cabinets’ recognition of history has been continued. While I understand there are various wordings, I have a feeling that the Prime Minister has not made a clear statement that it was not a war of aggression. Can you articulate here once again as the Foreign Minister that the past war was indeed a war of aggression?
Minister Kishida: I believe that the Prime Minister uses various wordings on each occasion. However, at the basic level, as I have mentioned, the entire position outlined by previous administrations is continued by the Abe Cabinet. In addition, the Abe Cabinet has never denied the past Cabinets’ statements, such as the Kono Statement and the Murayama Statement. Putting aside specific phrasing, I am certain that the Abe Cabinet continues the position outlined by past Cabinets, and the recognition remains unchanged.
Kamiide, Freelance: While I understand your view, my first point is whether you can clarify here that the war was not an aggression and, also as there are harsh articles by the U.S. media, it seems that the Abe Cabinet’s ambiguous stance was one of the factors. What are your views?
Minister Kishida: When we raise each word and make comments on parts out of context, such comments will begin to have their own meanings. We have provided explanations, in a comprehensive manner, on the Abe Cabinet’s position through a range of responses to questions in the Diet, remarks and lectures given in various public occasions to this date as well as on the stance of the past Cabinets. I hope the entire picture is properly understood. In that context, we have thoroughly explained that the entire position outlined by previous administrations on the recognition of history is continued by the Abe Cabinet. I hope this to be properly accepted and the Abe Cabinet’s stance to be reflected. What is your other point?
Kamiide, Freelance: On the U.S.
Minister Kishida: I am aware a spectrum of opinions and remarks are voiced from the U.S. Since the establishment of the Abe Cabinet, we have raised the enhancement of Japan-U.S. alliance as one of the three pillars of diplomacy. I recognize it was reaffirmed that the Japan-U.S. alliance is absolutely strong through last year’s Japan-U.S. Summit and various endeavors. I acknowledge that the alliance is highly solid in the current situation. Our alliance will stay as one of Japan’s diplomatic pillars. I intend to thoroughly confirm our vital bilateral relations while striving to reinforce it. I perceive that our bilateral relationship is solid in the current situation.
Nago City mayoral election
Mizuuchi, Sankei Shimbun: I have a question on the upcoming Nago City mayoral election. The election campaign has begun. Apart from that, Okinawa’s Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has, as a fact, filed an application for reclamation last year. The relocation to Henoko is a major topic in this election now. Will the Government steadily propel landfill in Henoko and the commencement of construction, regardless of election results and other matters?
Minister Kishida: Nago City mayoral election is a municipal authority’s election. Consequently, I will refrain from making comments in the Governmental capacity. At any rate, the Government must avoid the indefinite use of the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma. I believe the Government stands on the same position as the people of Okinawa in this regard. We take extremely seriously Governor Nakaima’s approval of public water reclamation permit for the Futenma Replacement Facility last year. We need to make our utmost effort for the realization of the return of the Futenma Air Station at the earliest opportunity.
UN Peacekeeping Operations in South Sudan
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: In relation to the UN Peacekeeping Operations in South Sudan, please clarify the facts on a report by some media that Japan rejected the United Nations’ request to the Self-Defense Forces for transporting military personnel and weapons of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Minister Kishida: Japan has made various contributions to UN peacekeeping operations under the principle of proactive contribution to peace and is deliberating on making further active contributions. On your point, it is a fact that the UN asked for air transport support for the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). On this, we have decided to respond in a cautious manner based on comprehensive deliberations.