Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, July 4, 2014, 11:13 a.m.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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

Opening remarks

(1) Personnel decisions on senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida: During the Cabinet meeting which was held a short while ago, personnel affairs related to senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among other matters, were approved and decided. We reshuffled personnel to appoint people to posts in which they can fully unleash their capabilities in view of their skills and experience, from the perspective of placing the right people in the right jobs.

One of the important policies of the Abe Cabinet is to promote the appointment of women to senior positions. In the latest reshuffle, Director-General for Cultural Affairs Naoko Saiki was appointed as the first female Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau. In addition, Minister Mitsuko Shino of the Embassy of Japan in Italy was selected as the first Japanese Ambassador to Iceland. This brings the number of female Japanese ambassadors to four.

Senior officials of MOFA have been reshuffled as follows: Deputy Vice-Minister Kazuhiko Koshikawa will be replaced by Director-General of the European Affairs Bureau Toyohisa Kozuki. Director-General of the European Affairs Bureau Kozuki will be replaced by Councillor of the Cabinet Secretariat Hajime Hayashi. Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau Keiichi Katakami will be replaced by Director-General for Cultural Affairs Saiki. Director-General of the International Legal Affairs Bureau Masafumi Ishii will be replaced by Deputy Director-General of the North American Affairs Bureau Takeo Akiba. Director-General of the Intelligence and Analysis Service Shigeo Matsutomi will be replaced by Deputy Director-General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau Hiroshi Oka. Deputy Vice-Minister Koshikawa will be appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Spain. Director-General of the Intelligence and Analysis Service Matsutomi will be appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the State of Israel.
This is all from me with regard to the reshuffle of the senior officials of MOFA.

Personnel decisions on senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ichinose, Kyodo News: I have a question regarding this topic of personnel decisions. The appointment of women is one of the policies of the Abe Cabinet. Also, I imagine that personnel decisions for director-general level and higher posts are centralized at the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs. You stated that the first female Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau was appointed, as well as the first Ambassador to Iceland, bringing the number of female ambassadors to four. As you were a member of the Cabinet meeting which made the decision today, and as I gather that MOFA has a policy of its own, could you please once again explain to us why the two individuals were appointed? I’m sure their gender was not the sole reason for their appointments.

Minister Kishida: The Abe Cabinet has continued to communicate in Japan and overseas that it intends to create a society in which women shine. We consider that efforts need to be made in a variety of sectors to create a society and environment in which women can play an active role. Here at MOFA too, we have a policy to appoint the right people for the right jobs to enable our female staff to fully unleash their respective capabilities, taking into account their experience and other factors. The personnel decisions were made based on such a policy.

As these are personnel decisions, a variety of elements factors into them. They also require various coordination work. As I explained moments ago, the personnel decisions I described were made as a result of various coordination efforts in view of the basic policy. Under present circumstances, I believe we were able to establish an excellent organizational structure for MOFA.

Japan-North Korea relations

Watanabe, NHK: My question concerns Japan-North Korea relations. Is my understanding correct that North Korea has already notified Japan about the establishment of its Special Investigation Committee?

Minister Kishida: With regard to the establishment of the Special Investigation Committee, Japan deliberated and decided on a policy to lift some of the measures Japan imposes on North Korea, in accordance with the Japan-North Korea agreement. I believe that shortly today the Chief Cabinet Secretary will be holding a press conference and announcing the lifting of three measures. I am of the view that by the end of today the North Korean side will be announcing the launch of the Special Investigation Committee, among other matters. My understanding is that the steps being taken by Japan and North Korea will both be starting by the end of today.

Right of collective self-defense

Kamide, Freelance: Allow me to ask a question concerning the right of collective self-defense. Three days have passed since the July 1 Cabinet Decision. As for the media coverage and opinion polls over these three days, I believe that half of the national newspapers expressed opposing views, and many of multi-prefectural newspapers and leading local newspapers in Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, showed disapproval and were critical. Some of the foreign press have also published disapproving opinions. While maybe this was predicted, what is your take on the media coverage, opinion polls, and overseas reaction? How do you intend to obtain the understanding of the people?

Minister Kishida: The Cabinet Decision presents a basic policy on the development of security legislation for securing the lives and peaceful livelihood of the Japanese people, given the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan.

You noted in your question that disapproving comments have been voiced across the country. However, as far as I can tell from the opinion polls and other sources, domestically there are disapproving comments, to be sure, but also a substantial number of comments commending the policy of the Government. Outside of Japan, many countries expressed that they welcome Japan’s position and efforts. That is the current situation.

Nevertheless, it is true that there are critical opinions about the latest decision. Therefore, I believe we need to continue to provide careful explanations to the people in Japan and overseas. We will continue to carefully explain Japan’s position, views, and the meaning behind our initiatives, including that there is no change at all to the path Japan has followed as a peace-loving nation.

Japan-North Korea relations

Saito, Kyodo News: I would like to once again ask you about North Korea. As you have told us, the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear issue has not been held for a long time. My question is whether the Government of Japan has an intention to urge early resumption of the Six-Party Talks for the solution of the nuclear issue. Another question is whether Japan has ever made any effort for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks and has an intention to make such efforts in the future. Please let us know your opinions on these questions.

Minister Kishida: First of all, concerning the Six-Party Talks, I recognize that the Six-Party Talks serve as an effective framework for solving outstanding issues of concern. However, I recognize that it is important for the North Korean side to show a sincere attitude toward a solution of the issues, including denuclearization.

In addition, North Korea has taken provocative actions such as the launching of missiles, particularly these days, and the Government of Japan has lodged strong protests against North Korea on occasions such as the recent Japan-North Korea government-level consultations. Taking such circumstances into consideration, I think it is too early to resume the Six-Party Talks at this stage, though I understand that the Six-Party Talks still serve as an effective framework for solving outstanding issues of concern.

Saito, Kyodo News: In this regard, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly stated in press conferences or in the Diet that because there are outstanding issues of concern, we should build a good relationship through dialogues. I think he stated so with China or the Republic of Korea in mind and he has stated that we should talk because there are issues of concern.

Considering the intent of the Prime Minister’s statement, I think we can take a stance of setting no preconditions, such as the overall environment, for the Six-Party Talks. What is your opinion about this?

Minister Kishida: Regarding the issue of North Korea, the Government of Japan has conventionally taken a policy based on dialogue and pressure. As a result, we resumed Japan-North Korea government-level consultations this time and agreed on launching the Special Investigation Committee.

As we have conventionally taken a policy based on dialogue and pressure, dialogue is important. However, regarding the Six-Party Talks, there are stakeholders other than Japan. Considering such circumstances, I think it is too early to resume the Six-Party Talks at this point in time.

China-ROK Summit Meeting

Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: Yesterday, President Park Geun-hye and President Xi Jinpin held a ROK-China summit meeting and an attachment to their joint statement included studies on comfort women. Can I ask your opinion on this?

Minister Kishida: First, I am aware, as you pointed out, that a description of this sort accompanied the joint statement. Up to the present time, the Government of Japan has been doing all that it possibly can to address historical issues, including the issue of comfort women. But as the Government, we consider that these problems should not be politicized or be turned into a diplomatic issue.

China’s State Archives Administration’s disclosure of written statements by Japanese war criminals

Hasegawa, AFP: My question is a related one. Yesterday, China began to publish online the confessions of 45 Japanese who were convicted by military courts in China of committing crimes during the Second World War.

They include a confession by Hiraku Suzuki, a lieutenant general and commander of Japan’s 117th Division, who wrote that he ordered 1,000 Chinese to be killed, and that he had killed more than 200 people by his own hand. He also wrote that he ordered the cholera virus to be spread in three or four villages. The document was littered with the language of imperialism. China is publishing this sort of hand written confession online. I would like to ask your opinion about this and also whether some sort of response has been decided on?

Minister Kishida: First, I am also aware, as you pointed out, that China’s States Archives Administration announced that it would start to publish these documents on the Internet. But our position is that, in general, the evaluation of historical events of this type should be done through discussions by experts. Therefore, as a representative of the Government of Japan, I consider that I must refrain from making any comment on this issue.