Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, February 21, 2014, 8:40 a.m. Prime Minister’s Office
Nakamura, Nippon TV: Did you watch the performance of Ms. Mao Asada?
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: I watched it on various TV programs this morning. It was a fantastic and passionate peformance.
Remarks by Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori (Northern Territories issue)
Nakamura, Nippon TV: Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori presented his idea of jointly controlling a part of the Northern Territories with Russia in his address yesterday. How do you recognize this kind of idea at the timing when your visit to Russia is scheduled soon?
Minister Kishida: Japan holds fast to its basic stance to conclude a peace treaty by solving the Northern Territories issue. As you said, there are various opinions and discussion regarding possible solutions. However, I must refrain from making a concrete comment, as any reference to a specific solution from the position of the Government of Japan could influence negotiations going forward.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: I will ask a question on the Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the issue of comfort women. In the Diet deliberations yesterday, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara testified that there was no evidence to support the coerciveness by the Japanese Government or the Japanese military in the course of preparing the Statement. Do you think this undermines the reliability of Kono Statement?
Minister Kishida: There was a discussion at the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives concerning the issue on Kono Statement yesterday. Basically, the statement was issued by a Chief Cabinet Secretary. Therefore, as for the view and response, I understand that they are just as the response given by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: In his press conference, the Chief Cabinet Secretary referred to the issue and noted that he would like to study the testimonies of former comfort women and the process of preparing the Statement, while keeping classified information. Do you think that the Chief Cabinet Secretary stated this with an understanding of the necessity for reexamination?
Minister Kishida: I believe the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s remark and view are just as he stated.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: What do you think about the need for reexamination?
Minister Kishida: I understand that the Chief Cabinet Secretary’s remark explained all, as Kono Statement is a Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary.
Agreement to supplement the Japan-U.S. SOFA on environmental stewardship
Takagi, Kyodo Press: The first working-level round of consultations on the agreement to supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement on environmental stewardship took place. Please tell us roughly when you will have the next round, as I heard it would be held in Tokyo? Also by what time would you like to reach the final agreement?
Minister Kishida: Concerning the specific date for the next round, I have not been briefed that it had been fixed.
I am aware, however, that local people have their requests on this issue. We must reach a solid conclusion as early as possible. Japan and the U.S. agreed to make our utmost effort to advance negotiations and bring an early conclusion when I recently visited the U.S. and had the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among other occasions.
I will work hard to the best of my ability. However, at this stage, I cannot show you any concrete picture including the future prospect, and the timing we will reach the conclusion, as the consultations have just began.
Remarks by Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori (the Olympics)
Shimaya, Jiji Press: Yesterday, Former Prime Minister Mori said that figure skater Ms. Mao Asada “always falls on the ground at an important occasion.” What do you feel about this remark?
Minister Kishida: I will refrain from making immediate comments now, as I have not confirmed the details of his remark and the context in which he made this remark.
Remarks by some aides to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: In response to the U.S. comment that it was disappointed by the Prime Minister’s visit to Yasukuni, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Seiichi Eto stated it was we who had been disappointed. And Special Advisor to the Cabinet Etsuro Honda was made to explain his remarks in a Wall Street Journal interview he had. How do you see the impact of such reactions from key officials around the Prime Minister? The Prime Minister is repeatedly made to explain their acts when asked questions in the Diet. How do you see the impact on the Administration?
Minister Kishida: As for Mr. Eto’s remark, I am aware that it was retracted as a personal statement. Regarding the issue of the visit to Yasukuni Shrine, our position is that we will respectfully provide solid explanations just as the Prime Minister says.
In respect of the various remarks, Japan maintains its basic stance, foreign policy and historical recognition. Therefore, I believe my position and role as the Foreign Minister is to work hard to prevent these issues from becoming a diplomatic or political issue through giving proper explanations.