Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 10:12 a.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(1) Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida: Regarding the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons which will be held in Vienna on December 8 and 9, The Government of Japan has decided to upgrade the level at which the Japanese delegation is represented at this conference. In past conferences, the delegation was led by a director-level official. This time, Japan will dispatch a delegation led by Ambassador Toshio Sano of the Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, and will actively contribute to the discussions.
Japan has been stressing the importance of securing the broad participation of states in this conference, including nuclear weapon states. In this regard, Japan highly values and welcomes the participation of the United States in this conference. As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings in war, Japan endeavors to spread awareness on the inhumanity of nuclear weapons across borders and generations, and pursue “a world without nuclear weapons.” From this perspective, we hope extensive discussions at the conference.
(2) Dispatch of experts in response to the Ebola virus disease outbreak
Minister Kishida: I have one more announcement. The Government of Japan has decided to newly dispatch four experts to Liberia and Sierra Leone through the WHO in response to the Ebola virus disease outbreak. The four experts are scheduled to successively depart in November. This will bring the total number of Japanese experts having participated or participating in the WHO mission to 10 people. Japan will continue to extend seamless assistance to put an end to the Ebola virus disease outbreak.
Saito, Kyodo Press: I have a question regarding Japan-China relations.
A Japan-China agreement was reached the other day, which served as a platform for yesterday’s Japan-China summit meeting. With regard to the section of the agreement concerning the Senkaku Islands, some Chinese media have reported that Japan made a significant concession. Meanwhile, Japan is sending out the message that that was not the case, at least to my understanding.
So I would like to ask you once again, based on the Japan-China summit meeting yesterday, what is the position of the Japanese Government regarding the Senkaku Islands at this time?
Minister Kishida: I would like to reiterate that Japan’s position on the Senkaku Islands remains unchanged. As for the section of the four-points that touched upon the Senkaku Islands which you referred to, I believe the phrase was “the tense situations in recent years in the waters of the East China Sea, including those around the Senkaku Islands.” In the East China Sea, there is a variety of issues, including the issue of the “East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone” and the issue of the excavation of ocean floor resources. The points say that there is the emergence of tense situations over such issues.
There are tense situations over these issues, and there are different views on them. There is no difference at all with Japan’s position to date. I would like to once again underscore that Japan’s position remains unchanged.
Saito, Kyodo Press: If I may confirm then, you just stated that Japan’s position has not changed at all. If so, is my understanding correct that there is not even the slightest change to Japan’s position that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of the territory of Japan and there exists no territorial issue between Japan and China?
Minister Kishida: That is correct.
Kamide, Freelance: I have a follow-up question to Mr. Saito’s question.
Indeed, people of the Chinese media, such as the People’s Daily, as well as scholars, are saying that “different views,” as written explicitly in the statement, clearly refer to the territorial dispute.
In addition, there was mentioning that both sides shared some recognition regarding the history issue. Sources with strong connections to the Communist Party of China have presented interpretations that in general this meant that Prime Minister Abe would not visit Yasukuni Shrine.
What is your assessment of these interpretations? Do you perceive that the statement should be interpreted in this manner? Are there any problems with these interpretations?
Minister Kishida: With respect to your first question on situations in the East China Sea, I responded a short while ago. I will not repeat it.
As for your second question regarding history recognition, my understanding is that the part of the points is referring to all of the various issues surrounding the recognition of history, and is not pointing to at any specific issue. There are various challenges and indications to various issues of the recognition of history, however, my understanding is that it is referring to them as a whole.
Dissolution of the House of Representatives
Yamamoto, Sankei Shimbun: Dissolution of the House of Representatives has been rumored. Could you tell us about your opinion on the dissolution of the House of Representatives by the end of this year and if you think dissolution at this time of year is appropriate or not?
Minister Kishida: Dissolution of the House of Representatives is, needless to say, the exclusive right of the Prime Minister and therefore I think Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a decision. Therefore, I think it is not appropriate for me, a member of the Cabinet, to say anything about it. I think Prime Minister Abe will make a decision, including whether the dissolution is appropriate or not.
Nakagawa, Yomiuri Shimbun: Related to the previous question, Prime Minister Abe expressed his idea that a judgment to hike the consumption tax to 10% will be made soon, after referring to the preliminary figures of the quarterly GDP between July and September.
In the first place, there was a three-party agreement in 2012. You were the Chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party then. I remember you repeating in the press conference that it was a very important decision then. As time to make an important judgment is approaching, please tell us how you think or feel about it.
Minister Kishida: Concerning the establishment of the act that you have pointed out, as a matter of course, I consider it a very important one. I also think that Prime Minister Abe will make his decision on whether or not to further increase the consumption tax based on that act. Therefore, I believe that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet will make a decision after having carefully examined the situations. Needless to say, the act weighs heavily, and I think a careful judgment should be made based on the act.
Contact between the leaders of Japan and ROK in APEC
Matsuura, Kyodo News: I would like to get back to the topic of APEC. During the dinner yesterday, Prime Minister Abe and Ms. Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea, had a conversation. Could you tell us about the significance of the conversation? In addition, do you think the summit meeting between Japan and China prompted this conversation?
Minister Kishida: I received a report that Prime Minister Abe and President Park Geun-hye sat next to each other during the dinner of APEC on November 10. I also received a report that both leaders discussed various issues on that occasion. Moreover, the leaders have concurred on smoothly advancing the director-general-level talks, which are currently ongoing, between the two countries.
In terms of your question that whether or not the communication between the two leaders was influenced by the other factors behind, my answer is that they have communicated at the dinner meeting and that is all.
Japan-Russia Summit Meeting
Ichinose, Kyodo News: My question is concerning the Japan-Russia summit meeting. The two leaders agreed on the preparation for the visit by President Putin next year. In that case, I think the situation in Ukraine, which is becoming an issue to Japan’s policy, should be much improved in order to realize the visit to Japan by President Putin. However, it does not seem to be moving toward stabilization in view of the fact that pro-Russian groups held elections. I would like to ask your outlook on that. What is your future prospect of the situation in Ukraine? Another question is President Putin mentioned negotiations on a peace treaty. However, there are opinions that the Russian side mentioned the peace treaty because they want to obtain economic cooperation. Could you let us know your ideas on such an opinion?
Minister Kishida: First of all, the Government of Japan, in view of the situation in Ukraine, emphasizes coordination with the G7 and has been taking measures against Russia. On the other hand, the Government also recognizes that political dialogues between Japan and Russia are very important. Amid such a condition, a Japan-Russia summit meeting was held on November 9. The two leaders reached a consensus that the two countries will begin concrete preparations for realizing President Putin’s visit to Japan at an appropriate time next year. As for the specific time of his visit, I think both sides will consider various factors and comprehensively examine it. In terms of your question about the relations between the Northern Territory, peace treaty and economic cooperation, both leaders exchanged frank opinions to sincerely tackle the conclusion of a peace treaty by clarifying the very important issue of the territorial belonging of the Northern Territories on the basis of the recognition that the political dialogues between Japan and Russia are very important. I do not have anything to say about the intention of the Russian side as I do not have the materials for it and I am not in a position to say anything about them.
Contact between leaders of Japan and ROK in APEC
Matsuura, Kyodo News: Could you tell us about the significance of the meeting between President Park and Prime Minister Abe?
Minister Kishida: First of all, Japan and Korea are neighboring countries and I recognize that the bilateral relationship with the ROK is an important relationship for Japan. Although there are difficult issues between the two countries, we have stressed that this is the very reason why dialogues are important. We have stated on various levels that the doors for dialogues are open and, most of all, stated that high-level political dialogues are important. I think we should welcome communication between leaders in various forms.