Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 11:03 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
System of Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons
Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: Regarding the system of Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons that commenced based on your proposal last year, this month will mark one year since the Communicators were delegated. Could you please let us hear the outcomes of the first year and the outlook for the future?
Minister Kishida: To begin with, in recent years, with the victims of atomic bombs growing older, it is important for Japan, the only country to have suffered from atomic bombings, to continue to convey the tragedies of the use of atomic weapons across generations. Based on that belief, the system of Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons was established, in June last year as I recall. Since the establishment of the system, 35 young people have thus far been delegated as Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons. I feel that they have been proactively appealing for a world without nuclear weapons, both at home and overseas. Recognition of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons is beginning to spread worldwide as a result of this system. That is the feeling I get.
Furthermore, next year is a milestone year as the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings. It is my hope that this nuclear disarmament momentum will increase further and across generations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also intends to continue to proactively utilize this system of Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons system.
Fujimura, Chugoku Shimbun: In fact, speaking to high-school students who were delegated, they said that they were inspired to be representing young people, and at the same time, some said that the period of delegation was limited to the period they spend overseas, and that they would like to remain active under the Youth Communicator title after they returned home and reported their results. What are your thoughts on that?
Minister Kishida: By all means I would like to see young people who are delegated as Youth Communicators being boldly proactive, and in order to ensure that those outcomes are conveyed solidly and to a large number of people, I believe that initiatives will need to be taken with regard to specific approaches to implementing the system, based on the points you just raised, for example. I would like to carefully confirm points that have been raised such as that once again, and refer to them in implementing the system going forward.
The crash of the Malaysian airliner
Daniel Leussink, Het Financieele Dagblad: As for the accident in Ukraine, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on the 21st July that calls for the international investigation team’s unlimited access. According to MOFA, the truth must be identified, and it said that Japan is willing to offer necessary cooperation. If an international investigation is carried out, will Japan be able to contribute to it? If so, in what form is the contribution likely to be?
Foreign Minister Kishida: I am deeply shocked by the crash of the Malaysian airliner and the tragic loss of many lives. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Netherlands, Malaysia, and any other countries whose citizens were lost on this flight.
Though the cause of the crash has yet to be identified, it is highly likely that the Malaysian airliner was actually shot down. Hence, the international community needs to strongly condemn such flagrant acts. Those who were involved in the shooting down must take grave responsibility. I am deeply concerned that the separatists’ controlling of the crash site and the surrounding area continues to block the investigation. I would like to urge them to cooperate to secure access to the site of the crash by all relevant parties. In this regard, I strongly condemn these separatists’ acts which violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and unity. Any support to them should be immediately stopped as it will only worsen the situation. I would like to ask Russia to use its direct influence over the separatists and compel them to hold a talk with the Ukrainian government for a peaceful process and to cooperate with the international investigation of the incident.
I welcome the UN Security Council’s unanimous resolution on July 21 to call on all states and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident, including with respect to immediate, full, and impeded access to the crash site. I call for all relevant parties to respect this resolution.
In response to your question on Japan’s cooperation, I understand that ICAO, OSCE and the Governments of Ukraine, the Netherlands and Malaysia, the last two of which suffered heavy casualties, are leading the investigation. I intend to cooperate on the investigation in concrete terms after serious consideration as to what specific contribution in which field Japan can make, while communicating with the relevant parties and consulting with them. Communication with relevant parties aside, although Japan has not decided what kind of specific cooperation it will offer, we will continue close communication.
Japan-Republic of Korea relations
Saito, Kyodo Press: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. I have heard that Japan-ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Director-General level consultations will be held in Seoul tomorrow. Up to the present time, based on the Abe Cabinet’s experts’ report on the study on the Kono Statement, both you and senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said until now that Japan would explain to the ROK side the objectives and the significance of this study. But I think that up to the present time, the current situation in the ROK is that its Government and media have not necessarily supported the findings of the report from the Japan side, and instead, have been fairly critical of it.
Within this sort of situation, how do you perceive this issue? Do you think that the ROK side has been unable to fully understand the explanation provided by the Japan side, or do you think the problem lies with the explanation provided by Japan? What is your understanding of the current situation? I would like to ask on these points.
Minister Kishida: First, with regards to the current report on the Study of the Kono Statement, this report was absolutely not intended to damage the Kono Statement, as was insisted by the ROK side, but with regards to its intention and objective, it was intended to address domestic concerns about the Kono Statement by providing answers based on objective facts. Consequently, I recognize the Kono Statement as the outcome of efforts by the Governments of both countries in order to build future-orientated Japan-ROK relations based on historical facts. Therefore, I am disappointed by the response of the ROK side.
To begin with, this study was based on a request from the Diet, and the work to clarify the facts on the drafting process by which the Kono Statement was created was performed objectively, in accordance with the instructions of experts from various fields. I hope that the Government of the ROK calmly consider the findings of this Study.
Whatever the case, in the future the Government of Japan’s position will remain unchanged; namely, we will not review the Kono Statement but uphold it. We have clearly explained this point to the ROK side on numerous occasions, and going forward, we will continue to respectfully explain to the ROK side our thinking that I have just described.
Saito, Kyodo Press: Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. I would like to ask whether you intend to try to resolve the friction that has existed between Japan and the ROK on their recognitions of history, including the comfort women issue. Are you planning anything toward achieving this and preparing to hold frank talks on this issue with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se at the time of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to be held in August in Myanmar? I would like to ask your opinion on these points.
Minister Kishida: Currently, various issues exist between Japan and the ROK. But as I have previously stated, our approach is that our two countries need to sit down at the table and hold a dialogue precisely because these issues exist, and we will not change this approach at all in the future.
Japan-ROK Director-General level consultations are on-going. They will be held again tomorrow, but I hope that we will continue to hold a dialogue with the ROK on a variety of levels. On two occasions in the past I had a meeting with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, and I would like to continue to have these frank exchanges of opinions with him. I believe that Japan will continue to value these sorts of opportunities for dialogue. I want to state that our policy of always keeping the door open for dialogue will remain unchanged in the future.
By continuously holding this sort of dialogue, in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and moreover as I understand it is also the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the ROK, I want these anniversaries to spur us to think about Japan-ROK relations from an future-oriented and broad perspective.
Right of collective self-defense
Kamide, Freelance: I have a question on the right of collective self-defense. Following the announcement on July 1, Hisahiko Okazaki, who was also a member of the Advisory Panel, stated that Japan and the U.S. could now act jointly from Tokyo Bay to the Persian Gulf. He was extremely happy that it would be possible to act jointly, with the minesweeping of sea-lanes and other such activities in mind.
I would like to ask whether or not the Government’s current explanation is consistent with Japan and the U.S. actually being able to act jointly from Tokyo Bay to the Persian Gulf, and being able to protect military vessels. What are your thoughts on that? In other words, Mr. Okazaki says that if the other party displays even slightly risky behavior, it could be used as a pretext for pre-emptive defense.
Minister Kishida: I do not personally have a detailed knowledge of the opinions of Mr. Okazaki that you refer to, but the Government recently undertook a cabinet decision on the basic policies of the legal basis for Japan’s security. Within that, the fact is that basic policies on the legal basis were established regarding the issue of how to respond to various security challenges such as gray zones or “kaketsuke-keigo” (rushing to the aid of unit or personnel under attack) in the context of peacekeeping operations. And there is a part concerning the right of collective self-defense in that. However, as I have stated a number of times, the Government of Japan carried out this debate while conscious of the issue of how to go about protecting citizens’ lives and peaceful living. Consequently, where the right of collective self-defense is concerned also, the fundamental policy consistently remains whether or not the three new conditions apply in order to protect citizens’ lives and peaceful living, and to make solid considerations based on that. Where all specific cases are concerned also, I believe that the Government’s response should be considered after rigorous confirmation of whether or not the three new conditions apply.
Reports on the Minister visiting the United States
Takagi, Kyodo Press: I would like to ask if you are planning to visit the United States. Following the Malaysia Airline’s crash, I imagine that there will be communication between Japan and the U.S., and there have also been reports that coordination is taking place toward your visit on the 23rd. I would like to ask whether you are planning to visit the U.S., and if so, by when are you visiting the U.S.?
Minister Kishida: I am aware of the various reports, but I am not planning to visit the U.S., that’s all.