Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 8:41 a.m. Prime Minister’s Office
Japan-DPRK Red Cross Talks
Sugawara, TV Asahi: Japan-DPRK informal talks were held between the two governments. Please tell us the content and outcome?
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: In the Japan-DPRK Red Cross Talks, the issue of Japanese nationals’ remains in DPRK and other matters were discussed. Regarding the issue of Japanese nationals’ remains in DPRK, the Japanese Government considers it as an issue of humanitarian importance left unresolved after the war. I positively take the fact that the talks between Japanese and DPRK Red Cross Societies were held.
The Government considers that matters of concerns such as the abductions issue continue to be important and must fully engage to resolve them while strongly urging the DPRK to give positive response. Such a policy remains the same.
Sugawara, TV Asahi: How about inter-governmental informal talks.
Minister Kishida: For the first time in one year and four months, the two governments held discussion for shorter than two hours. I recognize such discussion had some meaning. I intend to make efforts to continue to resolve matters of concerns.
Situation in Ukraine
Sugawara, TV Asahi: Japan has joined in G7’s Joint Statement while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to develop a good relationship with President Vladimir Putin. On what stance and how will the Government address this issue?
Minister Kishida: Various reports and new information are coming in. As some parts of information are complicated, I would like to confirm it. Based on that, we need to respond in close coordination with relevant countries.
Between Japan and Russia, ongoing discussion is held between Japan and Russia on the issues of Northern Territories and a Peace Treaty. On such discussion, we should give consideration while paying close attention to the current situation. There will be no changes to various schedules which has been set between Japan and Russia.
Japan-North Korea Red Cross Talks
Watanabe, NHK: A question on informal talks between Japan and North Korea. As you said there was certain meaning, how do you evaluate the meaning of the content of the meeting in concrete terms?
Minister Kishida: To begin with, the contact was made using the talks between Japanese and North Korean Red Cross Societies. Therefore, in my view, we are not at the stage in which the talks will lead to immediate resumption of inter-governmental talks. However, there was some significance in holding the inter-governmental discussion for the first time in a year and four months.
We must observe the situation going forward. Meanwhile, the Government will address matters of concerns on North Korea under the conventional principle. This point will be unchanged.
Watanabe, NHK: Does that mean the recent talks are a move toward resuming an inter-governmental meeting?
Minister Kishida: As I just said, we must watch further developments. I believe the contact which was made for the first time in a year and four months has some significance.
Situation in Ukraine
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: Japan joined in issuing G7 Leaders statement toward Russia to deliver a statement of condemnation. On the prior day, the Statement by the Foreign Minister was issued, which conveys concerns to Russia. G7’s statement carries the slightly stronger term “condemn.” Behind this difference, is there a certain view of the Japanese Government on its stance?
Minister Kishida: I believe G7’s statement includes Japan’s stance to urge all the parties concerned to behave with maximum self-restraint and responsibility. Japan’s policy to expect the peaceful settlement of the situation remains unchanged.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: As Western countries are discussing with economic sanctions in sight, what is the situation of consideration in the Japanese Government?
Minister Kishida: We will closely monitor how the situation will develop and we should respond to the issue accordingly.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: Do you mean that there is no consideration given to the economic sanctions?
Minister Kishida: In the current situation, we are at the stage of closely monitoring the situation.
Watanabe, NHK: In the near future there will be an investment forum between Japan and Russia and a meeting on economic issues. For now, will they be unchanged, or be held according to the schedules, in case that the situation have changed?
Minister Kishida: There is no change to such schedules at this point. However, we will pay close attention to how the situation will develop.
Watanabe, NHK: There is a report the Russian Military has delivered an ultimatum to Ukrainian troops in the Crimean Peninsula, calling for their surrender by noon of March 4 on Japan time. How do you evaluate such information?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the information, but there are mixed reports. We are now trying to confirm it. With grave anxiety and concern that I stated in the Statement by the Foreign Minister, we are closely monitoring the situation. That is the current situation.