Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, February 14, 2014, 8:40 a.m. Prime Minister’s Office
(1) The Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: An expert-level international conference that discusses the impact of nuclear weapons use from a scientific standpoint has been held since the 13th, yesterday, in Mexico. From our country, medical experts, atomic bomb sufferers and one of their third-generation descendants joined Government officials. I have been briefed that, as a third-generation descendant of atomic bomb sufferers, the high-school student, who also acts as a “Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons,” voiced their earnest desire for a world without nuclear weapons.
I consider having the full recognition of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons as the starting point to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. On that basis, Japan intends to actively push forward pragmatic and practical initiatives toward “a world without nuclear weapons”.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s Visit to Japan
Tokuhashi, NHK: U.S. President Obama announced his visit to Japan and Japan is his first destination. What are your thoughts on this and expectations on how the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting will be like?
Minister Kishida: I am aware that the U.S. side announced on 12th that President Obama will visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in late April. Japan would like to prepare well for his visit, while confirming its specific schedule. With this opportunity President Obama visits Japan, we would like to reaffirm the firmness of Japan- U.S. alliance between the two countries. Besides bilateral relations on security and economy, we will thoroughly explain about our course to international contributions on the basis of “proactive contribution to peace” in cooperation with the U.S. I expect such a Summit Meeting will be held.
Tokuhashi, NHK: I understand the schedule of President Obama’s visit is under coordination, but it is expected that the President will stay for a night. Does the Government of Japan still keep the stance to treat him as a state guest?
Minister Kishida: As for the schedule, a spokesperson of the U.S. side has just announced that the President’s visit is scheduled in late April. The entire schedule as such is not yet released. Therefore I am aware that the detailed schedule showing how many days the President will stay in Japan is not announced. Yet the Government of Japan has been extending an invitation to welcome the President as a state guest.
First Round of Consultations on the Agreement to Supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on Environmental Stewardship
Tokuhashi, NHK: I heard that Cabinet members concerning Okinawa were assembled before today’s Cabinet meeting. What did you discuss there?
Minister Kishida: We talked about recent moves on Okinawa, for instance, the first round of consultations on the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on environmental stewardship. The meeting provided an opportunity to report issues such as this conference and exchange opinions.
Tokuhashi, NHK: Regarding the environmental stewardship you just talked about, as the negotiations started, what are your views on its prospect?
Minister Kishida: The consultations have just begun, so they have not reached the point enough for me to speak about its concrete prospects. However, I hope that the consultations will bring about as much outcome as possible and will reach a conclusion at an early stage.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s Visit Japan
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: As for President Obama’s visit to Asian countries, South Korea was announced as the President’s destinations, in addition to countries originally mentioned. What are your views on the impact of his visit to South Korea on strengthening partnership among Japan, the United States and South Korea?
Minister Kishida: As for the point that was originally mentioned, countries were not listed specifically until 12th. On 12th, specific destinations were released for the first time. Therefore I think that it is not the case whether it was added or not. As for the announcement itself, I do have hopes that the tour will contribute to the peace and stability of the Asia region.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Visit to South Korea
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: Secretary of State Kerry now visiting South Korea held meetings with President Park Geun-he and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, and Mr. Kerry told that he urged mending the Japan-ROK relationship and, at the same time, that he wanted the two countries to move forward despite the historical issues.
Minister Kishida: I am aware that U.S. Secretary of State Kerry has been in South Korea from the 13th and held the U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and other events to discuss the U.S.-ROK alliance and North Korea’s situation.
Prior to that, I had a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry in Washington and confirmed that the Japan-U.S. alliance was solid, that we would continue to contribute to the peace and stability in the region and international community based on our policy of “proactive contribution to peace,” and that we will do so in collaboration with the U.S. We are in accord that the Japan-U.S.-ROK partnership is vital, considering the issues such as North Korea.
Secretary of State Kerry’s visit to South Korea this time is meaningful when considering the Japan-U.S.-ROK partnership on the issues of North Korea and other matters.
Akiyama, Nikkei Shimbun: The U.S. is working to encourage Japan-ROK dialogue. Are there any plans to hold a summit meeting during the Nuclear Security Summit in March and to have a Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at some point, for example?
Minister Kishida: No concrete dates have been decided, but Japan-ROK relations are important neighboring relations and Japan has stated that we want to advance the bilateral relationship from a broader perspective. I do hope to advance the bilateral relationship by developing a concrete cooperative relationship, going forward.
Issue of the name of the Sea of Japan in the U.S.
Torinari, Kyodo Press: In respect of the name of the Sea of Japan, a move to submit a bill to obligate “the East Sea” to be added on textbooks has been stepping up in US State Assemblies. Please tell us concrete response that the Japanese Government will give?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the name of the Sea of Japan, the United Nations explicitly recognized in March, 2004 that only the Sea of Japan would be used. The U.S. Government has also clarified the sole use of the Sea of Japan. It is deeply regretful that such a move that you pointed out has been seen in U.S. State Assemblies.
Japan has provided explanations of its stance and views through the Ambassador to the U.S. and lobbyists and others. We must explain them in a respectful manner and we will continue to work hard.
Torinari, Kyodo Press: Do you intend to convey our concerns to, or lodge a protest against, the South Korean side and those related to U.S. State Assemblies?
Minister Kishida: At any rate, the sole use of the Sea of Japan is confirmed in the U.N. and the U.S. Government. Therefore, I intend to make steady approaches as to the right management of this issue while explaining the international situation as such.
Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: As for the conference in Mexico, what impact do you think the discussion on the inhumanity of nuclear weapons will have on the NPDI Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April?
Minister Kishida: The conference in Mexico is about deepening the knowledge of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons on scientific grounds among experts. I believe deepening such a discussion will become a clue to accelerating debate toward the overriding goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons. I have expectations on the conference outcome.