Press Conference by State Minister Yasuhide Nakayama
Thursday, October 30, 2014, 3:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Adoption of the Draft Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament Submitted by Japan to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
Today, October 30, we issued a Minister for Foreign Affairs’ statement following the adoption of a draft resolution on nuclear disarmament submitted by Japan to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
This resolution was adopted with the endorsement of an overwhelming majority of 163 nations, including nuclear-weapon states. This draft resolution is scheduled to be put to the vote at the UN General Assembly Plenary Session in early December.
Next year marks the 70th year of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in that milestone year the 2015 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is scheduled to be held.
Through such initiatives the Government of Japan intends to contribute to the success of next year’s NPT Review Conference, and continue to lead the international community’s efforts to achieve “a world without nuclear weapons.”
(2) Illegal operation of Chinese coral vessels around the Ogasawara Islands
With regard to the problem of Chinese coral vessels off-shore the Ogasawara Islands, up to now we have been responding with the coordination with the relevant parties and relevant ministries and agencies. In October there were four incidents in which captains of Chinese coral vessels were arrested concerning the activities off the Ogasawara Islands. In addition, this morning (October 30), an arrest was made concerning the activities in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Ogasawara Islands. Thus far also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly made representations about the incident to the Chinese side via the embassy route, and today also, the Ministry made immediate representations following the arrest.
We will continue to respond while coordinating with the relevant ministries and agencies.
The situation in Ukraine
Hirayama, Independent Web Journal: I would like to ask about the situation in Ukraine. The election of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) in Ukraine was held the other day and the pro-Western faction of President Petro Poroshenko won. However, it is considered that the pro-Russia faction will independently hold election in the east of Ukraine and it is being said that this may fix the division of the country. Can I ask how you see the situation in Ukraine, and what do you think the Government of Japan should make an approach to Russia? Can I ask your opinion on this?
State Minister Nakayama: As you are aware, the parliamentary election for Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada was held on 26th. You might be aware that the Minister for Foreign Affairs issued a statement. I understand that Ukraine’s parliamentary election was conducted in a generally free and peaceful manner apart from part of eastern Ukraine and Crimea as you mentioned. We would like to welcome this. At the same time, we have received a preliminary report from the 10 election observers dispatched by the Government of Japan, which states that voting and vote counting on the whole were conducted in a peaceful manner and the transparency of the tallying process was secured.
Japan hopes that Ukraine will rapidly form a new parliament and government and make progress in resolving its problems. We would also like to offer our support for the peace and stability of Ukraine.
At the same time I would like to mention the fact that voting could not take place in around half of the electoral districts in the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast. Regarding the legitimacy of the election, we think it is important that this parliamentary election was carried out peacefully and democratically toward realizing peace and stability in Ukraine, and that the actions of the pro-Russian armed groups that impeded this should be criticized.
In this election, out of the 225 electoral districts nationwide, voting could not take place in a total of 27 electoral districts in Crimea and two eastern oblasts occupied by the separatists. I understand that the electoral seats for these districts will remain vacant. On the other hand, my understanding is that in every other region, the election was conducted in a generally free and peaceful manner and that there were no problems regarding the legitimacy of the election.
Illegal operation of Chinese coral vessels around the Ogasawara Islands
Kojima, NHK: My question concerns the coral issue you have just raised. Do you know who from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made representations about the issue, and who the other party was?
State Minister Nakayama: The director in charge of the issue at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of the Second China and Mongolia Division conveyed his regret to the Counsellor at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Japan, along with requesting that recurrences are prevented.
State Minister Nakayama: At the present point in time I would like to refrain from commenting on details of the exchange.
Ohki, Yomiuri Shimbun: Yesterday China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech that there is a custom of treating everyone who visits as a guest in China. In the lecture he suggested that China intends to do its utmost to fulfill its necessary duties to all its guests, a comment that could be perceived as relatively positive for holding a Japan-China Summit Meeting. How do you see this comment?
State Minister Nakayama: I am aware of the comment made by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, including media reports. Our answer at present is that nothing has been decided regarding a Japan-China Summit Meeting at the APEC meeting in Beijing.
Explanation to former rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy
Hirayama, Independent Web Journal: I would like to change the subject. Forgive me for bringing up something that happened about two weeks ago, but I would like to ask about the Government’s request to Radhika Coomaraswamy that she retract portions of her report on the comfort women issue.
Ms. Coomaraswamy ended up turning down the Government of Japan’s request that the report be corrected. However, a close look at the report reveals that in fact it only cites a small portion of Seiji Yoshida’s testimony, and cites the theories of scholars who criticize Yoshida’s testimony, and similarly cites the testimonies of close to 80 other individuals.
It has been pointed out that rejecting the tenor of Ms. Coomaraswamy’s report based on The Asahi Shimbun’s retraction of its reports is somewhat unrealistic. However, could you once again explain what the Government’s recognition is regarding Ms. Coomaraswamy’s report?
Additionally, will the Government continue to make similar retraction requests in the future? And in the future, how will the Government explain such a thing to other countries, including the United States.? I would like to ask for your views on these issues, as State Minister.
State Minister Nakayama: The Government of Japan has explained its position on this report at the United Nations, including the Commission on Human Rights. As you are aware, as there have recently been development including the Asahi Shimbun’s retraction of its reporting on this matter, Japanese government officials met with Ms. Coomaraswamy in person on the 14th and clearly explained these developments to her and asked her to revise in some form the views she expressed in the document.
Japanese government officials explained Japan’s basic position to Ms. Coomaraswamy. They also explained the projects implemented under the Asian Women’s Fund and the initiatives taken by Japan to promote women’s rights after the report was submitted in February 1996.
I understand Ms. Coomaraswamy responded that she was not in a position to revise the report as she has long left the position of special rapporteur, that Mr. Yoshida’s testimony was no more than one of the evidence, and that she will continue to maintain the position expressed in the report.
The Government deeply regrets Ms. Coomaraswamy’s response. In any case, the Government remains committed to seizing appropriate opportunities to clearly explain to and obtain the understanding of the international community, including the UN Human Rights Council, regarding Japan’s basic position and the initiatives taken by Japan up to the present time. This remains unchanged.
Hirayama, Independent Web Journal: Just a point of clarification. Is my understanding of the sequence of events correct, that is, the Government lodged a protest with Ms. Coomaraswamy after the Asahi Shimbun retracted its reporting?
State Minister Nakayama: It is as I have just explained.
Meeting with the Special Investigation Committee of North Korea
Kojima, NHK: My question is about the meeting with North Korea. I understand that this evening, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Junichi Ihara will return to Japan and brief the Government’s top officials. I assume that the details of the consultations will not be disclosed until this. At any event, North Korea took unprecedented moves. For example, the meeting with senior officials of the Special Investigation Committee was opened to the press. What is your assessment of North Korea’s response in this regard?
State Minister Nakayama: I would like to give you an overview of the latest meeting with the Special Investigation Committee of North Korea. At the meeting in Pyongyang, talks with members of the Special Investigation Committee were held over two days for a total of about ten and a half hours.
The Japanese side directly stressed to responsible officials of the Special Investigation Committee, including its Chairman So Tae Ha, that the abduction issue is a top priority issue. The Japanese side also strongly urged North Korea to conduct the investigations promptly and deliver the results as quickly as possible.
The Japanese side inquired North Korea from a variety of angles about the system of the Special Investigation Committee, the current status of the investigations, among other issues. Right around this time, I expect that the delegation, including Mr. Ihara, is now on its way back to Japan from Beijing. We will be briefed after officials dispatched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs return to Japan. With regard to our assessment of the consultations, I would like to respond to your questions after we have been briefed following the delegation’s return to Japan. We will be setting up an opportunity of briefing.
Agreement to Supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement on Environmental Stewardship
Takagi, Kyodo Press: Last week, the Japanese and U.S. Governments achieved substantial agreement on an environmental stewardship agreement relating to the bases of the U.S. Forces. Can you please give us a sense of the upcoming schedule for the signing of the agreement? Can you explain the status of the negotiations?
State Minister Nakayama: As I do not have the information with me at this time, including information on the status of progress, I would like to give you the details at a later time.