Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Friday, August 29, 2014, 11:00 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Foreign Minister Kishida’s article contributed to Foreign Affairs magazine
Foreign Minister Kishida: Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and also, Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference will be held. In order to build international momentum for “a world free of nuclear weapons” in the run up to this important year in 2015, this month, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki are on our minds, I contributed an article to Foreign Affairs, one of the most authoritative magazines specializing foreign affairs. That contribution was published in the magazine’s online edition yesterday, August 28.
In that contributed article, based on a speech on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policies that I gave in Nagasaki in January this year and the outcome of discussions at the NPDI (Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative) Ministerial Meeting held in Hiroshima in April, I proposed four specific steps based on a multilateral approach, ahead of the NPT Review Conference that is held once every five years and is going to be held next year.
I intend to continue to lead the international community toward the goal of achieving “a world free of nuclear weapons,” and will continue to strive to make efforts for the success of the NPT Review Conference.
Situation in Ukraine
Saito, Kyodo News: President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko announced lately that Russian military forces had entered Eastern Ukraine. I would like to ask what your recognition regarding this is, including how the Government of Japan views this, what its response will be, and whether it will explore additional sanctions.
Minister Kishida: I have been receiving many reports that the Russian military has invaded Ukraine, and I am deeply concerned about the situation. I think behavior such as this is a grave violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, and is completely unacceptable.
I believe it is necessary to once again strongly urge Russia to halt military intervention immediately and exert influence on the armed separatists to achieve a cease-fire, and to act proactively to find a peaceful solution to the situation of Ukraine.
In your question you also asked about the Government of Japan’s views on additional sanctions. In regard to the Government’s response going forward, up to now also our response has been to seek constructive action from Russia while putting emphasis on coordination with the G7. We will continue to emphasize cooperation with the G7 and make adequate responses.
Saito, Kyodo News: Will the Government of Japan’s channels with the Russian side, meaning the relationship of personal trust that Prime Minister Abe has built up through multiple meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the fact that Minister Kishida has also met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, these so-called diplomatic assets, be utilized by the Government of Japan to exercise initiative and play a leadership role to come up with ideas of some kind to work toward a breakthrough in this deadlocked situation?
Minister Kishida: Thus far also, the Government of Japan has been responding by placing an emphasis on cooperating with the G7, while at the same time viewing political dialogue with Russia as important also. Our basic view remains unchanged, but the situation is changing constantly.
I believe the Government of Japan has to respond appropriately while carefully monitoring the state of affairs and giving due consideration to the responses being made by the G7 countries as well as other concerned countries.
Issue of recognition of history
Kamide, Freelance: I would like to ask questions concerning Mr. Seiji Yoshida’s testimony on the issue of comfort women, which has been a hot topic these days. As you may know, since the Asahi Shimbun reported on August 5 that Yoshida’s testimony was false, some major media and weekly magazines have been repeatedly criticizing the Asahi Shimbun very severely. There are even rough tone of arguments that asserts as if Japan did not invade other countries in the past or that the issue of comfort women did not exist.
So, my question is, as long as the media says so, that is within the scope of their freedom of speech. However, there is a movement in the Diet, including the lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party, to make this an issue in the Diet. As you may know, the activities of newspapers are not limited by laws such as Broadcast Law. If this will become an issue in the Diet, I think it would be a serious challenge against the freedom of speech or freedom of expression. I would like to ask your opinion on that. This is my first question.
I think that something lies beneath the current criticism against the Asahi Shimbun. There is a fact that, unfortunately, both Minister Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have explained Japan’s invasion of other countries without using the word “invasion.” Rather there is a nuance to deny it. So, I would like to ask you about your opinion on Yoshida’s testimony and the stance of the Government of Japan on the Kono Statement, though it is said that the issue of Yoshida’s testimony is not related with the Kono Statement, as well as whether Japan invaded other countries in the past or not. Sorry to have several questions, but please answer them.
Minister Kishida: On the issues that you have pointed out, I understand that there are various discussions going on. However, at this point, I would like to refrain from stating from the position of Government what is discussed within the party or whether any issue should be discussed at the Diet.
Anyway, as we have repeatedly stated, the Government of Japan will not review the Kono Statement, and its recognition of history remains unchanged from that of the previous Cabinets.
I intend to continue to carefully explain these basic views or the positions of the Government of Japan.
Sugisaki, Asahi Shimbun: My question is concerning the so-called hate speech. I have learned that a recommendation including a suggestion that a law for banning hate speech should be made would be issued by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations as the Committee’s concluding observations. In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a recommendation to the Government of Japan in July that the Government should regulate or ban the hate speech. Could you let us know what the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs think about them?
Minister Kishida: Concerning the discussion related to the so-called hate speech at the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a discussion was held the other day at a committee meeting to review Japan’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Committee members then questioned whether Japan should withdraw its reservations on subparagraphs (a) and (b) of Article 4 of the Convention, which aims at punishing any activities that encourage racial discrimination, and to take legislative activities for regulating the so-called hate speech. Moreover, there were questions concerning its relation to freedom of speech, domestic legal precedents, and the recent remark by the Prime Minister.
The Government of Japan appropriately replied to the questions and explained that, while referring to Prime Minister Abe’s remark that such issues should be examined within the LDP, the Government will keep close eyes on the examination. That is the discussion we had the other day.
The concluding observations of the committee are to be released. In case there is a recommendation concerning hate speech, we will carefully review it.
That is all for now.
Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: I have a question regarding Japan-China relations. Yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga expressed expectations over the possibility of a Japan-China summit meeting being realized on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting, saying that it would be a natural flow of events for China as host country to hold dialogues with each participating country. As things stand, how feasible is it to hold a Japan-China summit meeting during the APEC meeting? Also, what is the current status of the arrangements?
Minister Kishida: First of all, Prime Minister Abe stated recently that there exist various issues between Japan and China, but it is precisely because such issues exist that a dialogue between the two countries is necessary. Accordingly, the Prime Minister said he hoped that a Japan-China summit meeting could be realized on the occasion of the APEC Meeting in Beijing in November.
The Government has stated on many occasions that Japan’s door for dialogue is always open and that Japan hopes China adopts a similar stance.
Having said that, there is no such fact that the two countries at this stage have started making specific arrangements for a Japan-China summit meeting on the occasion of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November.
President Putin’s visit to Japan
Hashimoto, Hokkaido Shimbun: Returning to the situation in Ukraine, it is undeniable that the situation is deteriorating. What impact will this have on President Putin’s visit to Japan which is scheduled for this autumn?
Minister Kishida: Japan will continue to closely follow the situation in Ukraine, and we need to deal with it appropriately while putting emphasis on our cooperation with the G7. As for the itinerary of President Putin’s visit to Japan which you noted, nothing has been decided at this moment. The Government will continue to examine this matter based on a comprehensive consideration of various aspects. This is the policy of our country.
Japan-North Korea relations
Nakagawa, Yomiuri Shimbun: I would like to ask a question about Japan-North Korea relations.
I believe that it was agreed between the Japanese and North Korean governments that the interim report on the reinvestigation of the abductees would be submitted between the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. What kind of reports or communications are you currently receiving from North Korea? Also, could you explain your assessment of the state of progress of the coordination efforts in connection with receiving this interim report?
Minister Kishida: With regard to the matter raised in your question: first of all, North Korea is to issue the first notice about the special investigation committee sometime between the end of summer and beginning of autumn this year. The policy of the Japanese Government is to carefully assess the progress of the investigation that is being carried out by North Korea.
However, as of now, no specific details of this initial report have been decided, such as the date or place of the report. I think we will continue to carry out further coordination on these matters.
Visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan
Reynolds, Bloomberg News: Tomorrow, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Japan. I have heard that India is strongly requesting a nuclear agreement; is there any possibility that such an agreement could be concluded during this visit? Also, what is the biggest stumbling block to such an agreement?
Minister Kishida: It is planned that the Indian Prime Minister Modi will visit Japan as official guest from August 30 tomorrow until September 3.
During his visit, Prime Minister Modi will have an audience with His Majesty the Emperor and visit Kyoto. An India-Japan summit meeting as well as a dinner is planned to take place between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Abe. They are expected to hold discussions on strengthening relations in a wide variety of areas including politics, security, economy, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchange.
Some discussions have already taken place between Japan and India concerning a nuclear agreement; however, there are currently no reports of any concrete details with regard to such an agreement.
In any case, we are currently in the process of coordinating what exchanges will take place during the summit and other meetings.