Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, March 28, 2014, 9:12 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Firing of Ballistic Missiles by North Korea (Informal Meeting of the United Nations Security Council)
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: Apparently at the recent emergency meeting held by the United Nations Security Council in response to the firing of Nodong missiles by North Korea, there was a statement condemning North Korea, but it seems that the meeting did not result in any resolutions or announcements. What are your thoughts on this outcome?
Minister Kishida: I have heard that the United Nations Security Council engaged in informal discussions—I believe in the early hours of March 28, Japan time. Subsequently, the chair of the Council made statements of criticism during a Council meeting. I have also heard reports that such statements were made, and that discussions will continue going forward.
In any case, I believe that Japan must send a strong message to North Korea while maintaining contact with the relevant countries, and I expect that the United Nations Security Council will respond to the situation in an appropriate way.
Japan-North Korea Director- General Level Talks
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: On the topic of North Korea, director-general level talks are set to take place between Japan and North Korea the day after tomorrow on March 30, and I believe that these bilateral discussions will draw the attention of the United States, the Republic of Korea, and other countries, especially because of the recent missile launches. I also think that this will be an important step for Japan regarding the resolution of the abduction issue. What will be your approach with regard to these upcoming director-general level talks, and what types of outcomes are you anticipating?
Minister Kishida: We will be resuming these Japan-North Korea director-general level talks, and I believe that discussions will take place with each side raising its own topics of interest. Japan will raise outstanding issues such as the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues, and we intend to work hard in order to make progress in resolving these matters. These discussions will be taking place for the first time in a year and a half, so at this stage it is difficult to make any predictions, but I believe that we will be required to approach these discussions in a tenacious manner.
Meeting Between Officials of the Government of Japan and Affiliates of the Nanum House of Sharing, a Support Facility for Former Comfort Women
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: On the topic of the Republic of Korea, on March 17, Regional Policy Division Director Yasushi Yamamoto of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau exchanged opinions with relevant persons in the Republic of Korea at a facility for former comfort women. What is the fact regarding this matter, and what were the aims of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
Minister Kishida: On March 17, a relevant director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met and exchanged opinions with affiliates of the Nanum House of Sharing, a support facility for former comfort women. It has been reported to me that this was related to a follow-up concerning the Asian Women’s Fund, and so a meeting with the affiliates of the facility who are supporting these former comfort women was held.
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: It seems that general director-level talks are also being considered between Japan and the Republic of Korea. The Republic of Korea side is expressing that it would like to engage in discussions specifically regarding the comfort women issue, and it appears that there is a bit of a difference or a gap in terms of Japan’s stance on this matter. What are your thoughts on this issue, and what is the status of organizing general director-level talks?
Minister Kishida: We have been communicating with the Republic of Korea at various levels not only regarding the comfort women issue, but also a variety of other issues. Nevertheless, it is my understanding that at the current stage, no specific schedule or other things has been decided for holding general director-level talks, or director-general level talks specifically to discuss the comfort women issue.
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: Does that mean that no such talks are being coordinated?
Minister Kishida: We have been communicating with the Republic of Korea for some time. I have still not received any reports about any specific decisions.
State Visit by President Barack Obama of the United States
Yamaguchi, TV Tokyo: With a visit by President Barack Obama of the United States to Japan less than a month away, there are reports that this will be treated as a two-night and three-day State Visit. What is the current status of planning?
Minister Kishida: In late April, President Obama is scheduled to travel to countries such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This much has been affirmed, but the specific dates and so forth have not yet been officially confirmed at this point in time.
Japan-North Korea Director- General Level Talks
Torinari, Kyodo Press: There is one thing I would like to ask regarding the Japan-DPRK Director-General-level talks. In a recent press conference Minister Furuya stated that unless the victims are repatriated, sanctions will not be lifted and not a single yen of assistance will be provided. However, at the time of the 2008 Japan-DPRK talks, a kind of bartering took place regarding reinvestigating the abductions, cooperating on the handing over of the Yodo-go hijackers and partially lifting economic sanctions, and Minister Furuya’s statement could be interpreted as meaning that reinvestigating the abductions alone is not enough and that unless the victims are repatriated sanctions will not be lifted. In terms of the government’s policy, what kind of policy is it adopting?
Minister Kishida: To begin with, because these Director-General level talks will recommence for the first time in 18 months, the fact is various discussions occurred in the past and the talks will recommence on that basis, but at the same time, there is the other party involved and it has been 18 months since the last talks. At this stage, making a prediction and suggesting what the content of the talks will be is difficult and would be inappropriate, I believe. In any event, I think that the Government of Japan will naturally bring up various pending issues such as the abduction issue, the nuclear issue and the missile issue, and is prepared to engage tenaciously in the negotiations.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: I understand your basic stance is that dialogue should take place for the very reason that challenges exist, but what are your thoughts regarding dialogue with Russia over the situation in Crimea and Ukraine?
Minister Kishida: The Government of Japan has been building up bilateral relations with Russia in various ways from last year. Where the situation in Ukraine is concerned the international situation is very tense and the Government of Japan has misgivings about that, but I believe efforts such as talking to and urging Russia based on bilateral relations and explaining Japan’s position, including this situation in Ukraine, etc., are important.
When considering the difficult security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, stability in Japan-Russia relations is important as well, and when various matters are considered, I think political dialogue should take place.
Kikuchi, Asahi Shimbun: Won’t the opportunity for dialogue be lost if you do not visit Russia in April?
Minister Kishida: At the present point in time nothing has been decided regarding my visit to Russia in April. Where the specific schedule, etc., for that is concerned, I think an appropriate judgment should be made after keeping a close eye on the situation in Ukraine, the action Russia takes going forward and the responses made by the countries concerned, beginning with the G-7.