Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 9:44 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Conclusion of the protocol to amend the Guam Agreement
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: At the Cabinet meeting a short time ago, it was decided to conclude the protocol to amend the Guam Agreement. Tomorrow (May 14), the Government of Japan will exchange official diplomatic documents with the Government of the United States, and the protocol is scheduled to come into force.
The Government of Japan intends to cooperate with the U.S. Government based on the amended agreement, and move steadily ahead with the task of relocating U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa to Guam, maintaining the deterrent force of the U.S. military and achieving a reduction in Okinawa’s burden promptly at the same time.
Japan-Republic of Korea(ROK) Director-General level talks
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a short time ago that Director-General level talks between Japan and the ROK will take place on May 15. Previously the talks have mainly concerned the comfort women issue. What kinds of things do you expect to be discussed in these coming talks?
Minister Kishida: On Thursday, May 15, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Junichi Ihara is scheduled to hold talks on various issues between Japan and the ROK with Lee Sang-deok, Director-General of the Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau at the ROK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who will visit Japan, and in these talks they will discuss matters of interest to both Japan and the ROK. I imagine both sides will present matters of interest and that these will be taken up as topics for discussion.Fujikawa, TV Asahi: That being the case, do you think matters of great interest of Japan, such as the issue of forced labor, and the issue of import restrictions on marine products, will also be on the agenda?
Minister Kishida: The issues that you have mentioned are included in the Government of Japan’s matters of interest; they are one of our matters of concern, I believe.
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: How do you intend to link the Director-General level talks to foreign ministers’ meetings or summit meetings in the future?
Minister Kishida: For the time being, the Director-General level talks will be held for the second time, and I think it will be important to continue to take up matters of interest to both sides and seek to communicate solidly. It is my hope that striving to communicate in the Director-General level talks in this way will help to build a relationship of trust and lead to dialogue at a high political level also.
Japan-North Korea relations
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: At the same time, there have been some reports that Japan and the North Korea are considering to hold a foreign ministers’ meeting between Minister Kishida and the North Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs at the ASEAN Regional Forum. Can you confirm whether this is true?
Minister Kishida: There is not such a fact at all. No such thing has been decided at all.
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: There have been no official consultations held between the Governments of Japan and the North Korea since the end of March. How are you planning to move things forward from here on?
Minister Kishida: Government-level consultations between Japan and the North Korea took place at the end of March, and it was agreed that those consultations will continue. And since then we have been in the process of making adjustments toward the next consultations. I believe dialogue must be continued, by all means.
Gathering of information on the Japan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)
Kubota, TBS: Edward Snowden has published a book in which he suggests that Japan’s Mission to the UN was the subject of interception. I would like to ask about this, and how you view Japan being subjected to interception by an ally.
Minister Kishida: With regard to your point, I am aware of the reports, but until they are confirmed, including the facts, I do not think the Government of Japan is in a position to say anything. I intend to watch this matter with interest.
Kubota, TBS: Will it go as far as considering a review of Japan’s information management, for example?
Minister Kishida: I believe the Government of Japan must remain constantly vigilant when it comes to Japan’s information management. Where this matter is concerned I believe we must make a solid effort both now and into the future.
Kubota, TBS: Was there an explanation from the U.S., either before or after the event?
Minister Kishida: The Government of Japan has continually communicated with the U.S. I would like to refrain from mentioning the details here.
Procedure for the auction sale of the head office building of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan
Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: My question concerns the auction sale of the head office building of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). Yesterday, the Tokyo High Court dismissed an appeal against the disposition of execution of its auction sale. The DPRK has made a number of assertions about the handling of the Chongryon head office issue, and I would like to ask you what effects you think this issue might have on the consultations between Japan and the DPRK?
Minister Kishida: First of all, I am naturally aware that the Tokyo High Court dismissed the appeal. However, I think I must refrain from saying anything about individual court proceedings from my position as a member of the administration. Concerning consultations between Japan and the DPRK, we shared the view that government-level consultations should continue, and I certainly hope that they continue.
Nakamura, Nippon TV: The DPRK Ambassador Song Ilho, in charge of Japan-DPRK normalization talks, has said that as long as no progress is made on this issue, there will be no improvement to the situation regarding Japan-DPRK consultations. Don’t you think that the problem will affect the consultations between the two governments?
Minister Kishida: We do not think that this problem is connected to the holding of consultations. I imagine that both parties will continue to raise the concerns of the both sides in Japan-DPRK consultations and Japan-DPRK government-level consultations. Whatever the case, we agree that the consultations should continue and I hope that we progress on to the next round.