Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:23 a.m. Front Entrance Hall, Prime Minister’s Office
(1) Foreign Minister Kishida’s visit to the Kyrgyz Republic and Ukraine
Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida: If circumstances allow, I will be visiting the Kyrgyz Republic and Ukraine from Tuesday, July 15 to Friday, July 18.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, I will be attending the Fifth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue, which will mark its 10th anniversary this year. Discussions are expected to take place on promoting regional cooperation, which is vital to the stability and development of Central Asia. I also hope to hold bilateral meetings with the respective countries.
In Ukraine, I would like to show that Japan, as a G7 member, stands ready to engage proactively in the swift resolution of the Ukrainian crisis. Therefore, I will be calling on the new Ukrainian Government to implement necessary political and economic reforms and hold dialogue with Russia and separatists, as well as show Japan’s readiness to provide the necessary supports in coordination with the international community.
Visit to the Kyrgyz Republic and Ukraine
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: I would like to ask a question regarding the announcement about your overseas visit. Four-party talks and other meetings have been held with regard to Ukraine. What is your aim in visiting Ukraine at this timing? Also, what message does Japan want to get across in particular?
Minister Kishida: With regard to Ukraine, Japan has reiterated that the annexation of Crimea and the actions of pro-Russian armed forces in Eastern Ukraine violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and that Japan can never condone attempts to change the status quo by coercive measures. Based on this stance, Japan will continue to make efforts toward the diplomatic and peaceful settlement of the Ukraine issue, while working with our partners, including the G7, and while maintaining communication with Russia.
I view that my visit to Ukraine will serve as an opportunity to demonstrate Japan’s readiness to take such actions. I hope to make it an opportunity to urge Ukraine to implement political and economic reforms and hold dialogue with Russia or separatists.
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: My question concerns Japan’s relationship with Russia which you spoke about moments ago. With regard to the relationship, the Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers’ meeting and your visit to Russia have been postponed since this spring. What is the current status toward their realization? Could you please give us an outlook?
Minister Kishida: Regarding Russia, Japan deems that it is important to resolve the Ukraine issue peacefully and diplomatically. Therefore, Japan needs to continue to maintain communication with Russia on these matters. Furthermore, the importance of Japan-Russia relations remains unchanged in view of the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region.
Japan seeks to continue to hold political dialogue with Russia, and intends to strengthen the overall Japan-Russia relations that serve Japan’s national interests. With respect to my visit to Russia, no specific date has been decided at this moment in time.
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: I understand that there is no change to President Putin’s visit to Japan scheduled this fall. Do you hope to realize a Foreign Ministers’ meeting before then?
Minister Kishida: A Japan-Russia summit meeting was held in February, and at that time, the two sides agreed on President Putin’s visit to Japan. However, the itinerary has not been decided at this moment in time. As for the Foreign Minister’s visit to Russia to be conducted before a summit meeting, I believe that as of last year the meeting had been scheduled this spring, but that the two countries agreed to postpone it to a later date. Nothing more has been arranged. Neither has the specific itinerary.
Media reports on list of survivors
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: Concerning Japan-North Korea consultations, there have been a series of reports by some media that North Korea presented a list of survivors to Japan. Can you once again explain your views and whether or not the reports are true?
Minister Kishida: I am aware that such reports have been published and that they have been published a number of times at that. However, there is absolutely no truth in such reports. I have difficulty understanding what the reports are based on. Yesterday, the Government lodged a written protest regarding such reports.
Cancellation of the Reception Commemorating Founding of the Self-Defense Forces Hosted by the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Korea
Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: The reception commemorating the founding of the Self-Defense Forces scheduled to be held at the Lotte Hotel Seoul was cancelled. It seems that anti-Japanese feelings are intensifying there. Could you tell us facts about this issue and your opinion on this issue?
Minister Kishida: Regarding your question, on the night of July 10, our Embassy in ROK received a unilateral notice of cancellation from the hotel, where the reception would be held on July 11, that they became unable to provide the venue for the reception commemorating the founding of the Self-Defense Forces hosted by the Embassy.
No matter what the reason might be, it is very regrettable that the hotel took such a measure the day just before the reception. Meanwhile, we managed to switch the venue of the reception. It has changed to the ambassador’s residence and the reception will be held as previously scheduled.
Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: It is said that the hotel was criticized by many for holding the reception and the hotel decided to cancel it. Have you heard the reason for the cancellation?
Minister Kishida: I understand that they received such a notice of cancellation from the hotel. Although various media is making various assumptions, I will carefully confirm the background of the cancellation.
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: Have you made an inquiry or lodged a protest to the ROK side?
Minister Kishida: First of all, we lodged a strong protest against the hotel through the Embassy.
Fujikawa, TV Asahi: Have you talked about it with the Government of the ROK?
Minister Kishida: I recognize that this is primarily an issue between the Embassy of Japan and the hotel.
Dispatch of a MOFA official to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Watanabe, NHK: Regarding the talk of a MOFA official being dispatched to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, I imagine that the general idea is that because of the Olympics, exchanges with foreign countries are likely to increase. Could you explain again the objective of this, providing the relevant facts?
Minister Kishida: I am aware that for the local government, exchanges with the relevant parties such as its overseas counterparts are fundamentally an extremely important matter.
The point you referred to is a personnel matter pertaining to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, one of the local governments, so I think I must refrain from making any specific comments on it. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will hold the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and we are communicating and consulting with it on the skilled personnel it will require. These are the facts and the situation at the current time.