Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 8:32 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) First Round of Consultations on the Agreement to Supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on Environmental Stewardship
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: Yesterday the first round of consultations on the agreement to supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on environmental stewardship was held in Washington, D.C., at the director level. In the interests of achieving a good outcome as promptly as possible, it is my hope that the negotiations move forward.
(2) Advisory Panel of Experts on Strengthening Sports Diplomacy
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I hope to harness the power that sports possess in order to strengthen diplomacy. Based on that viewpoint, an Advisory Panel of Experts on Strengthening Sports Diplomacy will be established under my auspices. It is scheduled to meet for the first time tomorrow morning, and to come up with recommendations by the end of the year.
Establishment of a “Comfort Women’s Day”
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: There have been some reports that the Republic of Korea is moving to establish a Comfort Women’s Day. Will you confirm the facts of the matter, and tell us how you view this move?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the reports of such a move. The Government of Japan’s stance and views on the comfort women issue have been explained up to now. In any event, I do not believe this issue should be turned into a diplomatic issue or a political issue.
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: Specifically, what are your views on the need to make some form of approach to the ROK side?
Minister Kishida: Up to now also, Japan has explained its stance and views, and going forward, we intend to continue to make that effort to explain.
Ministerial-level dialogue between China and Taiwan
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: Ministers from China and Taiwan held discussions for the first time in 65 years. How does the Government of Japan plan to observe this in the future?
Minister Kishida: As far as the Taiwan issue is concerned, the Government of Japan hopes that discussions will take place involving those concerned on both sides of the Strait and that the issue will be resolved peacefully. Based on that perspective, Japan will be watching such development with interest in the future.
Sex Crimes by U.S. Forces in Japan
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: I would like to ask about Okinawa. There have been reports by AP indicating that documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests show that a low number of cases involving sex crimes by military personnel belonging to U.S. forces Japan have resulted in courts martial and that the crimes were punished lightly. Lieutenant General Salvatore Angelella, Commander, United States Forces Japan, even issued some comments regarding this matter, but what are your thoughts on the situation surrounding sex crimes, and do you feel it necessary to make some form of approachs to the U.S. side?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the reports. Numbers and other information have been cited, and I would like to again confirm those details and so forth. In any case, I believe that it is extremely regrettable that U.S. military personnel commit sex crimes, and that it should not happen. The Government of Japan also believes that sex crimes such as this must be prevented from occurring by approaching the parties concerned and continuing to hold robust discussions with them.
Sochi Olympic Games
Imoto, TBS: Have you been watching the Olympic Games?
Minister Kishida: I watched a couple of events.
Imoto, TBS: Japanese athletes medaled yesterday. Could you please share your reaction on this?
Minister Kishida: Ever since the Olympic Games started, the people of Japan have kept their hopes high in a variety of events. The fact that Japanese athletes became medalists for the first time is terrific news, and I believe it has given courage to the people. I hope the athletes will keep up outstanding performances. Everyone in Japan will be cheering hard for them.
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: Did you watch it in real time?
Minister Kishida: I did not see the moment when they became medalists in real time.