Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 8:45 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
(1) Partial lifting of restrictions on the use of the Hotel/Hotel Training Area
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: I would like to notify you that the partial lifting of restrictions on the use of the Hotel/Hotel training area will be agreed as a measure to reduce the impact on Okinawa in an explicit manner. As a result of the discussion based on the principle agreement reached when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Japan last December, we will announce the lifting of restrictions as an agreement of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee this afternoon. The agreement allows ships to sail or to catch a certain amount of fish when the U.S. forces are not undertaking exercises. I would like to continue my best possible efforts for reduction of the impact on Okinawa in the future.
Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting
Watanabe, NHK: My question is on the Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting. Has the ROK side ever notified to the U.S. side, or to the Japanese side via the U.S., or directly to the Japanese side, that it would accept or hold the meeting?
Minister Kishida: If circumstances allow, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would visit the Netherlands to attend the Nuclear Security Summit. However, at the current point of time, nothing has been determined concerning the Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting or other issues. We have not received any specific contact whatsoever as of yet.
Japan-DPRK Red Cross Talks
Watanabe, NHK: Currently, Red Cross Talks between Japan and the DPRK are going on in Shenyang, and an unofficial director-level consultation was held yesterday. In terms of resuming Director-General-level talks, which is the focus of the current talks, have the two sides reached any agreement or is there anything determined at this stage?
Minister Kishida: Japan-DPRK Red Cross Talks were held yesterday, in which discussions were held on issues such as return of the remains. In addition to that, an unofficial consultation between the Governments of Japan and the DPRK was also held. I have learned that an unofficial consultation between the Governments of Japan and the DPRK will also be held today. Since discussions will continue today, I would like to refrain from making any comments concerning the details.
Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: I will ask a question concerning the Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting. Prime Minister Abe has stated that he has no intention to review the Kono Statement. In addition, thanks to the U.S. serving as a mediator between Japan and the ROK, an atmosphere for a Japan-U.S.-ROK Summit Meeting seems to have been prepared. However, no decision has been made concerning the meeting. Could you let us know your opinions and understanding of the situation?
Minister Kishida: The Government of Japan has kept the door for dialogue open. Although there exist some issues between Japan, U.S., and the ROK, particularly between Japan and the ROK, I have repeatedly stated that because we are in such a difficult condition, we need to hold dialogues, and that politically high-level dialogues are particularly important. I have expressed such policies of the Government of Japan at every opportunity and would like to continue to work according to such policies. I expect that the ROK side will respond to such policies of ours. However, nothing has been determined at present.
Situation in Ukraine
Takagi, Kyodo Press: The situation in Ukraine remains tense. At this moment in time, what is the outlook for the scheduled G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in April?
Minister Kishida: Regarding the framework discussions of the G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the G7 leaders affirmed in the G7 Leaders Statement of March 3 that the preparatory meetings would be held off for the time being. At present, the preparation work is suspended. As to what will happen to the G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, we will have to see how the situation develops.
I believe there are talks now about holding a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. If such a meeting is convened, I would imagine that these matters would also be discussed during this meeting. This is the current situation, and my understanding is that the final conclusion has not yet been reached.
Mizuuchi, Sankei Shimbun: It seems that there is quite a bit of widespread turmoil in the Crimea region, with the Russian Armed Forces stepping up their military activities against the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and some deaths also resulting. Are we now entering a stage for considering additional sanctions by Japan? How do you perceive the situation?
Minister Kishida: With regard to the situation in Ukraine, Japan has steadily communicated its view that any attempt to change the status quo with force in the background will not be overlooked. Two days ago, I announced Japan’s measures in response to the situation. The situation is evolving, and furthermore, discussions are taking place among various countries including the G7. Japan will be taking appropriate responses while following the situation.
Partial lifting of restrictions on the use of the Hotel/Hotel Training Area
Takeshima, Mainichi Shimbun: Concerning the Japan-U.S. agreement on the Hotel/Hotel Training Area, since when will this agreement take effect?
Minister Kishida: I understand that after the agreement is confirmed during this afternoon’s meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee, a detailed agreement will be prepared, and things will move from there. Therefore, I believe no certain date has been set for the agreement’s entry into force. If an agreement is reached at this afternoon’s meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee, then we will work as quickly as possible, including preparation work for the detailed agreement.
Situation in Ukraine
Kurita, Hokkaido Shimbun: What will become of your scheduled visit to Russia in April?
Minister Kishida: For now, no changes have been made to the plans. However, the situation is evolving, and discussions among relevant countries are under way. I do believe that the situation must be closely monitored. This matter will be dealt with appropriately on this basis.