Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 9:09 a.m.   Prime Minister’s Office

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

(1) Measures against Russia in response to the results of the referendum in Crimea

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: I am announcing the Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan on the situation in Ukraine.

The referendum conducted in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine violates the Ukrainian Constitution and is thus legally invalid. Therefore, Japan will not recognize the results.

It is regrettable that Russia’s approval of the independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea infringes on Ukraine’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Japan will never overlook any attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion.

In response to that development, Japan has suspended discussion with Russia on easing visa requirements, and frozen the launch of negotiations to conclude the following three new international agreements: a new investment agreement, a space agreement and an agreement concerning the prevention of dangerous military activities.

Japan urges Russia to fully abide by the international law and respect Ukraine’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, thereby avoid annexing Crimea. In addition, Japan expresses grave concern over mounting tensions in East Ukraine.

Situation in Ukraine

Yamazaki, Fuji TV: I assume these sanctions are unexpected incidents amid the highly smooth and favorable developments of Japan-Russia relations. What do you think about the impact on Japan-Russia relations?

Minister Kishida: Our response is decided considering the current situation of Ukraine, responses fromG7 relevant countries.

While we would like to attach importance to our unity with G7 and other related nations, the Abe administration has been developing relations with Russia since last year. I will appropriately respond to Russia based on such Japan-Russia relations.

Yamazaki, Fuji TV: Do you think there will be no impact on Japan-Russia relations?

Minister Kishida: We will continue to deal with it under the principle I just mentioned. In addition, we will continue to keep close observation on the situation in Ukraine.

Japan-North Korea Red Cross Talks

Yamazaki, Fuji TV: Regarding Japan-North Korea relations, Red Cross Talks will be held in Shenyang, China from tomorrow. As seen in the meeting between Mr. and Mrs. Yokota with Ms. Kim Eun-gyong, momentum for dialogue is growing to a great extent. Please tell us your expectations on Japan-North Korea Talks.

Minister Kishida: Firstly, Japan-North Korea Red Cross Talks are scheduled on the 19th and 20th. We would like relevant government officials to accompany the party. However, it is not decided yet whether informal inter-government discussion will be held on that occasion. Nothing has been decided on specific talks going forward. However, Japan has not changed, up to now, its policy on the issues of North Korea. We fully keep our policy to call on North Korea’s earnest attitude in order to bring comprehensive solution to the abductions issue, nuclear and missile issues of our concern under the principle of dialogue and pressure, and based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration. Therefore, we will take steady approaches to the DPRK side and urge its earnest attitude.

Yamazaki, Fuji TV: Do you reckon it is better for Director-General level talks to be resumed as early as possible?

Minister Kishida: As for such inter-government talks, an informal inter-government consultation was held for the first time in a year and 4 months on the occasion of the previous Japan-North Korea Red Cross Talks. Regarding the issues of concern involving North Korea, given the stance to urge the North’s earnest attitude toward their resolution, we would like to take various opportunities and make approaches on the issues.

Yamazaki, Fuji TV: Nuclear Security Summit will be held in Hague next week and summit meetings with the U.S. and South Korea have been talked about. Please tell me your views on this.

Minister Kishida: We have been saying that our door for dialogue is open. Of course, it is what we hope for, to hold dialogue, taking various opportunities. That said however, regarding the Nuclear Security Summit, we have not formally decided official delegates from Japan and, regarding dialogues, I am aware various coordination is still under way.

Situation in Ukraine

Mizuuchi, Sankei Shimbun: With respect to sanctions on Russia, I understand the U.S. and EU have imposed strong comprehensive sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans. These sanctions are different from those of Japan. What are the reasons?

Minister Kishida: Japan has constantly communicated with G7 countries and coordinated with them, including the March 12 Leaders Statement. In such a situation, we would like to appropriately respond based on Japan-Russia relations up to today. I recognize appropriate response will continue to be required upon close observation of the situation.

Mizuuchi, Sankei Shimbun: If the situation spreads slightly, do you think there will be different developments?

Minister Kishida: I consider the situation is still fluid. We must continue to pay close attention to the situation in Ukraine and other countries’ response. On that basis, Japan will continue to consider appropriate response.

Hashimoto, Hokkaido Shimbun: An address by President Vladimir Putin is scheduled tonight. Depending on the content, will additional sanction be considered?

Minister Kishida: I have heard the address will be given after 8 p.m. in Japan time. I must pay close attention to how it will be, and the content.

Issues of North Korea

Nakamura, Nippon TV: Minister for the Abduction Issue Keiji Furuya has met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before now. Is that on Mr. and Mrs. Yokota?

Minister Kishida: They exchanged information and opinions on the recent meeting of the Yokotas of the other day and other matters.

Nakamura, Nippon TV: Has the Prime Minister given any directions?

Minister Kishida: I will not touch upon specific points. However, it is basically information and opinion exchanges that I just mentioned.

Situation in Ukraine

Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: As sanctions have been imposed, the planned Japan-Russia investment forum and G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting slated for April can be brought into consideration, including that on making attendance. Are there possibilities of cancelation?

Minister Kishida: Regarding G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the preparatory meeting is postponed, as shown in the G7 Leaders Statement. At this stage we cannot make premature judgments on the future outlook.

As the investment forum is a forum mainly led by private sectors, I have heard it will be predominantly sponsored by nongovernment bodies. I am aware no changes have been made so far on holding it.

Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: Will government officials’ attendances be cancelled?

Minister Kishida: I have heard attendees and other details are still under coordination.

Japan-North Korea Red Cross Talks

Watanabe, NHK: I understand director-level consultation will be held again on the sidelines of Japan-North Korea Red Cross Talks in Shenyang, China.

Minister Kishida: As I have mentioned, that has yet to be decided. As the informal consultation has not been set, nothing beyond has yet to be decided in the current situation.