Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 10:41 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
(1) Signing of the Japan-Australia EPA and the Japan-Australia Agreement concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology
Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida: During today’s Cabinet Meeting, the signing of the Japan-Australia economic partnership agreement (EPA) and the signing of the Japan-Australia agreement on the transfer of defense equipment and technology were decided. This afternoon, in Canberra, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Tony Abbott are expected to sign the agreements. Japan and Australia are strategic partners that share universal values and strategic interests. Japan expects that these agreements will further strengthen the bilateral relationship in a wide range of areas, including the economy and security, and that this will greatly invigorate both economies and advance peace and stability in the region.
(2) An article of a Chinese local newspaper with illustrations of the mushroom cloud
Minister Kishida: Moving onto my second announcement, a Chinese local newspaper, Chongqing Youth Daily, has run an article accompanied by a map of Japan with illustrations of what appears to be an atomic mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, stating that Japan wants a war again. This is deeply regrettable. If this article was published with the July 1 Cabinet Decision in mind, I would like to reiterate that Prime Minister Abe set out clearly during his press conference that it is absolutely not the case that Japan will again become a country that would go into war.
The aim of last week’s Cabinet Decision is to secure the lives and peaceful livelihood of the Japanese people and to enhance deterrence by making all necessary preparations. There is no change at all to the path Japan has followed as a peace-loving nation. Japan will continue to explain our security policy carefully to other countries to ensure its accurate understanding.
Japan deems that it was extremely thoughtless of the newspaper to have illustrations of the atomic mushroom cloud. I cannot approve of this as a foreign minister of the only country to have suffered atomic bombings and as a politician from Hiroshima which suffered an atomic bombing. I instructed the Consulate-General of Japan in Chongqing to swiftly confirm with the newspaper whether or not this is true, and if it is true, lodge a strong protest.
An article of a Chinese local newspaper with illustrations of the mushroom cloud and address by President Xi Jinping on the 77th anniversary of the “Marco Polo Bridge Incident”
Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: I have a question regarding the Chongqing Youth Daily matter. You stated that you instructed the Embassy to lodge a protest. Specifically, will the protest be lodged in the near future, for example, today or tomorrow? Also, mushroom cloud illustrations are likely to incense the atomic bomb survivors. The article is clearly a hate article against Japan. The latest issue of the Chongqing Youth Daily is very disrespectful. Furthermore, yesterday, President Xi Jinping criticized Japan over the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. Can you once again explain your views regarding the escalation of Chinese criticisms against Japan, as is evident from the recent series of criticisms? If you can please answer these two questions.
Minister Kishida: With regard to your first question, I instructed the Consulate-General to lodge a protest. I consider the Consulate-General will be dealing with the matter as quickly as possible. With regard to the various developments taking place in China, I cannot make a sweeping statement as each matter is different in content. However, with respect to the article criticizing Japan published by a Chinese local newspaper that used atomic mushroom cloud illustrations, I believe the illustrations may incense the atomic bomb survivors.
In your question, you touched on the address by President Xi Jinping on the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. I am aware that President Xi Jinping delivered the address at a commemorative ceremony for the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on the morning of the 7th.
The Government of Japan considers that it won’t contribute to building peace and cooperation in the region for China to needlessly make an international issue out of Japan’s recognition of history. The position of the Government of Japan regarding historical issues, including World War II, remains unchanged. We perceive that the course Japan has taken as a peace-loving nation after WWII has garnered significant praise from the international community. The readiness to develop future-oriented cooperation on common issues facing the Asia-Pacific region and the international community is precisely what is demanded of a leader of a nation. Japan will continue to follow the recent developments in China pertaining to historical issues, including this matter, with interest.
Japan-North Korea government-level consultations
Yamaguchi, Nikkei Shimbun: My question concerns North Korea’s re-investigation into the abductions issue. North Korea is embarking on the investigation with unprecedented arrangements in place. On the other hand, North Korea’s investigation of the same issue 10 years ago was sloppy, and it seemed steps were taken to make the investigation appear logical. Against this backdrop, what measures can the Government of Japan take to ensure the effectiveness and transparency of the investigation this time?
Minister Kishida: The Special Investigation Committee was set up and has started investigations on issues concerning all Japanese nationals, including the abductions issue. We are by no means optimistic about the outcome of the investigations. We consider that we need to monitor the investigations carefully going foward.
Japan and North Korea shared the recognition that the first report would be submitted between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. We view that in the course of the investigations leading up to such reports, Japan will need to fully verify North Korea’s steps and intentions through diplomatic channels, including the “embassy channel” in Beijing.
In that process, if necessary, we must consider a variety of responses. Even in the May agreement between the two countries, what is to be done – for example, whether Japan-related parties are to stay in North Korea, whether to visit relevant locations, whether to hold interviews with related parties, whether to share materials – these sorts of points are currently being confirmed in writing. So I think that the methods agreed upon will be firmly utilized.
Watanabe, NHK: My question concerns the exchanges taking place between Japan and North Korea in the period until the first report arrives. I understand that at the current point in time, the investigation has begun, but up to this point, what kind of cooperation and investigation has the Committee requested from the Japanese side, and has the Japan side requested anything of the Committee? Are any exchanges of this sort taking place?
Minister Kishida: My understanding is that the Special Investigation Committee has begun its investigation, but I think at this stage, it is important that we first clearly confirm that it has begun. Once this has been confirmed, I consider that what is important is that we continually confirm the progress of the investigation step by step. I think that things have just begun.
Watanabe, NHK: From your answer, can I understand it to mean that it has not been confirmed that the investigation has begun?
Minister Kishida: As I previously stated, we are constantly and firmly communicating with North Korea via the “Embassy channel” in Beijing and have confirmed it.
Prefectural Gubernatorial Election in Okinawa
Ichinose, Kyodo News: Concerning the prefectural gubernatorial election in Okinawa, the Okinawa prefectural chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party confirmed yesterday that it would field Mr. Hirokazu Nakaima, the incumbent Governor of Okinawa, and Governor Nakaima expressed his positive intention toward the election, stating that he seriously took the decision. On the other hand, the headquarters of the LDP has not made its attitude clear yet and has not declared its support of Mr. Nakaima, taking a cautious stance. In addition, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated in a press conference yesterday that coordination would be made from now between the prefectural chapter and the headquarters, while there is a move that the Mayor of Naha City might file his candidacy for the gubernatorial election. For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Okinawa is a region of diplomatic concerns such as the Futenma Air Station of the U.S. Forces. Could you tell us your ideas on the decision by the Okinawa prefectural chapter yesterday and Mr. Nakaima’s willingness, as well as the circumstances surrounding the gubernatorial election?
Minister Kishida: The prefectural gubernatorial election in Okinawa scheduled this fall will, needless to say, be a very important election for the people of Okinawa. Moreover, I recognize that this will be a very important election from the perspective of various issues of Okinawa such as the reduction of the impact of Okinawa. I understand that many relevant people are making various efforts for this significant election. However, there are also various discussions concerning such efforts and therefore I think I need to refrain from making specific comments on each and every such move. I will keep a close watch on the election with interest.
Japan-North Korea government-level consultations
Houga, TBS: If I can return to the Japan-North Korea consultations, when it comes to the term confirmation as you previously stated, what sorts of actions by North Korea made you believe that the start of the investigations has been confirmed?
Minister Kishida: I think I must refrain from describing in a public venue the specific details of the exchanges taking place via diplomatic channels and the “Embassy” channel. As Japan, as the Government of Japan, we have a responsibility to confirm that the investigation has started, and above all, to ensure that it leads to concrete results. Going forward, we will do all we can to achieve this outcome.